What does a spy actually do?

October 25th, 2014

Intelligence services working against the UK tend to focus on gaining a number of different types of secret information say Mi5.

Military secrets

Industrial secrets

Political secrets

Lenin and Trotsky made their homes in the UK because of our long tradition of political tolerance.

How do they do it?

An intelligence officer is a person who is a member of an intelligence service. An agent is an individual who provides information to an intelligence officer.

Confusion happens when different countries use the terms in different ways. In the US an agent is a member of an intelligence or security agency such as the FBI or CIA.

The methods used often evolve around the latest technology which can help the agent eavesdrop, tap telephone calls and communicate secretly.

Cyber data presents a new way for information to be gained and the amount of information is limitless in this area.

Where does the law fit in?

Under the 1911 Act, a person commits the offence of ‘spying’ if he, for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State;

(a) approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the neighbourhood of, or enters any prohibited place,

(b) makes any sketch, plan, model, or note which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy; or

(c) obtains, collects, records, or publishes, or communicates to any other person any secret official code word, or pass word, or any sketch, plan, model, article, or note, or other document which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.

Mi5′s role

A dedicated branch look after counter-espionage and countering cyber threats. Their main concern is the protection of national security.


World War Two

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