Inside the Shadows: A survey of UK HUMINT practitioners examining their considerations when handling a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS)

Moffett, Lee; Oxburgh, Gavin; Dresser, Paul; Watson, Steven and Gabbert, Fiona. 2021. Inside the Shadows: A survey of UK HUMINT practitioners examining their considerations when handling a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS). Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, ISSN 1321-8719 [Article] (In Press)

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Moffett et al., 2021, Inside the Shadows - A survey of UK HUMINT practitioners re. handling a CHIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

Law enforcement agencies in the UK are embracing evidence-based policing and recognise the importance of human source intelligence (HUMINT), in the decision-making process. A review of the literature identified six categories likely to impact the handling of a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS), or an informant: (i) handler personality traits; (ii) informant motivation; (iii) rapport; (iv) gaining cooperation; (v) obtaining information, and; (vi) detecting deception. This study sought to identify which of these categories current HUMINT practitioners considered the most when planning and conducting a meeting with an informant. A bespoke online survey was designed and disseminated to 34 practitioners using purposive and snowball sampling. Directed Content Analysis and Thematic Content Analysis were conducted. Results indicate that practitioners appear most concerned with gaining co-operation (iv) and detecting deception (vi). Results also found an inter-connectivity between the six categories, with informant handlers often having to balance competing requirements. Implications for future research are discussed.

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Additional Information:

“This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, published by Taylor & Francis It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.”


CHIS; HUMINT; intelligence; informant; handler; law enforcement; practitioner; survey; content analysis; evidence-based policing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


14 April 2021Accepted
29 July 2021Published Online

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Date Deposited:

02 Jul 2021 12:25

Last Modified:

02 Aug 2021 12:00

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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