Informants get �1,000 a week from police

POLICE in Suffolk spend more than �1,000 a week paying informants, The Evening Star can reveal today.

POLICE in Suffolk spend more than �1,000 a week paying informants, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The sensitive figures, released following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, also show that the force paid out more than twice as much for information in the last 12 months as it did four years ago.

In 2004/05, Suffolk Constabulary accounted for “source based intelligence” payments totaling �28,067, but by 2008/09, that figure had leapt to a staggering �59,950.

In all, the county's police spent �274,141 on informants over the last six years.

The release of the figures, which do not include any payments made to informants by other agencies, was initially refused by Suffolk police. However, a second request for the statistics was approved.

While those opposed to paying for information say the procedures could be abused because cash changes hands under a cloak of secrecy, Suffolk police today defended the crime-fighting technique.

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Detective chief superintendent Stewart Gull said the gathering of intelligence from informants “plays a vital role” in the policing of the county, especially in targeting serious and organised criminals.

“Source based intelligence is an important element of this, as it enables intelligence to be gathered which may have otherwise been unavailable to us,” he said.

“Accurate information given to the police at crucial times can often save hours of painstaking police work.

“It is also a cost effective method of targeted intelligence collection - often against the most serious and organised crime groups operating within and across Suffolk - and is an extremely positive contribution in our fight against crimes impacting on local communities.”

Mr Gull said this type of intelligence gathering was strictly governed through legislation. He also revealed the constabulary is annually inspected by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners to ensure it is complying with the law.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Systems for payment must be safeguarded against any unjust or inappropriate allegations with suitable levels for approval of payments and a requirement that all payments must be witnessed and corroborated with incremental levels of seniority depending on the size of the reward.”

Should police pay informants? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Cash paid by Suffolk police to informants:

2003/04 - �32,812

2004/05 - �28,067

2005/06 - �48,445

2006/07 - �46,694

2007/08 - �58,173

2008/09 - �59,950 (estimated out-turn)