Type of undercover operative

Law enforcement uses the word cleanskin to refer to an undercover operative whose identity is unknown to the police forces he or she is tasked to find information about. This is usually because such an agent has not conducted any prior undercover activity.[1]

The phrase got more use with a slightly different meaning in the United Kingdom following the London bombings of 7 July 2005. The four bombers involved in those bombings were reported in the press to be "cleanskins", according to police sources, meaning that their profiles did not fit what bombers are usually like.[2]


  1. "cleanskin". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  2. Lewis, Leo (6 May 2007). "The jihadi house parties of hate: Britain's terror network offered an easy target the security sevices [sic] missed, says Shiv Malik". The Times. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2021. And how could Charles Clarke, home secretary at the time, claim that Khan and his associates were 'clean skins' unknown to the security services?