POLICE across Kent spent more than a million pounds over the last five years on paying for information about criminal activities. It was
the third highest amount of any force in the country.POLICE across Kent spent more than a million pounds over the last five years on paying for information about criminal activities. It was
the third highest amount of any force in the country.
Only the Metropolitan Police, the largest force in the country, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland handed out more money to informants at £5.2million and £2million respectively.
Kent spent £1,029,145 on ‘covert human intelligence sources’ between 2011-16, according to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live, via a Freedom of Information request.
Informants, also known in the criminal world as ‘grasses’, can get anything from a few pounds for basic information, up to several thousand for helping disrupt organised crime. There is no upper limit to the payments.
No statistics are available to show how many convictions have come about as a result of paying the money, although Kent’s Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Fordham believes the tactic is ‘effective and legitimate’.
“The use of informants is a well-established and widely known technique, which is used by Kent Police.
“It helps us prevent and detect crime of the most serious nature, and is one of many ways that the police protects its communities.
“The use of informants is something that is closely managed and scrutinised to ensure that it is lawful, proportionate, ethical, justified,” he said.
Forces are audited on their use of informants and are inspected annually by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners to ensure they are not breaking the law.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said: “Use of police resources is an operational matter for the Chief Constable.
“My role as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner is to hold him to account on behalf of the people of Kent.
“I will be taking the opportunity to discuss this topical matter with him in due course to reassure myself that spending on police informants is effective and represents value for money.”
Nationally police paid out at least £22million to informants over the last five years.
Payments are typically used to solve – or prevent – crimes including murder, terrorism and serious sexual offences, and can also be made to recover valuable stolen items.