Payments to police informants rise

Police informants bucked the recession as Britain's largest force increased spending on tip-offs, according to figures revealed today.

Scotland Yard paid £1,908,345 in rewards for information about criminals operating in London and across the country during the last financial year.

The bill was a small increase on the outlay to informers, known to police as covert human intelligence sources, over the previous 12 months of £1,863,074.

It means police officers handed over about £5,228 every day of the year despite budgets being slashed across the board.

The figures, contained in documents obtained by Press Association, shine a light on an area of modern policing that remains shrouded in secrecy.

Senior police officers are reluctant to discuss the importance of informants in the fight against crime.

But they remain a key and cost effective weapon against crooks despite huge advances in surveillance technology and police techniques.

There is evidence MI5 shares this view and has redoubled its efforts in recent years to recruit informants, particularly in the fight on Islamic terrorism.

A board of officers within Scotland Yard oversees the use of informants to ensure they remain safe and that their handlers act within the law.

A review is under way of all procedures, from registering informers to monitoring the value of information they provide.

Critics fear informant handling procedures could be abused by officers because large amounts of cash change hands under a cloak of secrecy.

Although the identities of informants are closely guarded, senior officers have access to statistics about their ethnicity and overall number.

The payments were contained in internal budget files filed by accountants at the end of the financial year 2009-10.

The papers revealed a further £176,250 was spent on travel, accommodation and meals for police informant handlers.

They also showed £3,933,306 was spent on secret surveillance operations against organised criminal gangs and terrorists.

The figure was made up of £1,861,501 for covert operations, £645,948 for covert terrorist operations and £1,425,857 on covert running costs.

A further £105,066 was paid to ensure broken down or damaged cars, vans and motorbikes used in undercover work were recovered without undue attention.

Spending on informants by the Met has grown considerably over the past five years, from £1,255,262 in 2004-05.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "The use of informants to assist in police investigations is one part of the armoury used by forces to defend and protect the public.

"Their use has proved vital in bringing offenders to justice in cases ranging from serious organised crime to burglary."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent