MI5 - Security Service

Covert Human Intelligence Sources

Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS), more commonly known as agents, are one of our most important sources of intelligence. Agent operations are run by specially trained officers - agent handlers - and can continue for long periods, sometimes for many years.

What is an agent?

An agent is anyone able to provide intelligence that assists our investigations. Agents are not members of MI5 - we call our staff "officers", not "agents".

For more information on what our agents do, see the following pages:

Key points

  • An agent is anyone able to provide intelligence that assists our investigations.
  • MI5 staff are called officers, not agents.
  • A strict legal framework applies to our use of agents.
  • Agents' safety is paramount - identities are protected and personal welfare looked after.

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