The cost of covert human intelligence resources

A freedom of information request from BBC Radio 5 Live has revealed the cost of covert human intelligence resources, aka informants, to police services across the UK. Interestingly, the Metropolitan’s bill has fallen since 2007. Here, the PSNI have revealed that they paid out £299,000 to those intelligence resources last year, about the same as the West Midlands police. This has drawn a somewhat disingenuous response from Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson.

“There is also a widely held belief that many informants currently operated by the PSNI are active within various dissident groupings.”

Of course, as Martina well knows, the activities of such republican groupings fall mainly within the remit of MI5. Adds It’s also worth noting this from the BBC report

Patricia Gallan, Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and chairman of ACPO’s National Source Working Group, said the use of informants had proved essential in cases ranging from serious organised crime to burglary. “Each force is audited on their use of informants and is subject to a robust annual inspection by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners to ensure compliance with the law,” she added. “They are a valuable source of intelligence and their use is justifiable and proportionate when set against other police tactics.”

From the BBC report

TOP TEN SPENDERS
Metropolitan Police: £1,863,074
Greater Manchester: £329,497
Police Service of Northern Ireland: £299,000
West Midlands: £291,780
Kent: £222,578 (Median over seven years)
Strathclyde: £221,598
Northumbria: £191,652
South Yorkshire: £182,457
Thames Valley: £179,516
West Yorkshire: £170,475

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  • Dec

    Ignoring the fact that once again you quickly turn the story into Sinn Fein (and erroneously to boot – go ask paddy Murray), it’s worth pointing out that in comparison the West Midlands force police over 2.6 million people with 8461 full-time officers. The PSNI police 1.7 million people with 9200 full-time officers. Further, what I’d like to know is the actual number of informants the PSNI run.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    “Further, what I’d like to know is the actual number of informants the PSNI run.” I dare say you would. So here’s a clue: peer harder at those blue benches the next time Stormont’s in session.

  • sinless

    Obviously this is not the full story. Sinn Fein and other counter gangs have other paymasters. The Brtis were always good at this, even against serious opposition like the Germans.

  • Dec

    Toryboy

    I’m sure you’ll make a pertinent point one day.

  • fair_deal

    Considering the poor clear up rates of crime here there surely must be questions on the cost-effectiveness of this spending?

    Password: lack

  • Dec

    Considering the poor clear up rates of crime here there surely must be questions on the cost-effectiveness of this spending?

    Crap as they are already, clear-up rates would probably plummet through the floor if they didn’t throw taxpayer money at touts/grasses.

    Given that a PSNI Informer has just this week been charged with murder, Gallen’s comments about compliance with the law can safely be consigned to the dustbin marked ‘Bollocks’.

  • McGrath

    Is there some way to determine what proportion of the money is being spent to acquire useful information, and what proportion is being spend to keep various people quiet?

  • fair_deal

    Dec

    “clear-up rates would probably plummet through the floor if they didn’t throw taxpayer money at touts/grasses.”

    I am not attacking the use of informants but questioning the bang for the buck?

    The raw figures seem to show us getting less for more expenditure with comparable police services. Link that with the clear-up rate and it seems we are paying for information rather than actionable information.

  • Dec

    I am not attacking the use of informants but questioning the bang for the buck?

    I think the question of whether we are receiving bang for the buck should be levelled at the entire PSNI organisation and not just its intelligence gathering activities.

  • longdansweeney

    Are their similar stats for the multiple non PSNI/RUC agencies to show how much they are all spending?

  • cynic

    Dec

    “Given that a PSNI Informer has just this week been charged with murder”

    Absolutely right. They would be far better and safer focusing efforts on recruiting people like your granny as an informant.

    Think of the possibilities. Wee Sean playing ball in the middle of the streeet? William wearing a T shirt that cased disresess and alarm. A dog allowed to wander in a public place without a lead?

    All these crimes would soon be cleared up and no risks. the arrest rate would soar and the efficiency measures for PSNI go through the roof.
    I am assuming of course that your Granny isnt a covert axe-murderer

  • Dec

    Cynic

    All very hilarious. I think you must the key point – he committted that murder (and I would speculate quite a few others) whilst in the pay of the PSNI c/o the taxpayer. I wonder whether you’d be as flippant if a paid informant murdered one of your relatives or whether you’d adopt a stoical approach and mumble about ‘the greater good’.

  • fair_deal

    Dec

    “we are receiving bang for the buck should be levelled at the entire PSNI organisation ”

    Agreed