£1.2 million paid to informants by Midlands police
Police in the Midlands have paid informants £1.2 million in three years, it can be revealed today.
The West Midlands force was the biggest spender, handing out £850,976. Staffordshire paid £305,260 and West Mercia spent £127,018 – a combined £1,283,254.
Senior officers say informants are sometimes the only way to crack serious organised crime and terrorism. They say there are strict controls, laid out in law, on payments.
None of the forces would release the amounts paid to individuals, nor the convictions they helped secure, for fear of identifying their sources.
Figures for the three financial years to last April were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Carl Bird, from the West Midlands force's information services, said informants were used to help officers perform their duties "enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime".
Staffordshire Detective Superintendent Wayne Jones said: "The use of and recruitment of informants is a legitimate and closely-regulated police tactic, in particular in cases involving organised crime and terrorism.
"The release of individual payments to informants by a force would put this process of recruitment and retention of informants at serious risk."
Sarah Buxton, spokeswoman for West Mercia Police, added: "Informants often help to speed up an investigation, resulting in significant cost and time savings, which can then be passed onto the communities which West Mercia Police serves.
"However, the use of sources is not undertaken lightly. They are only used in situations where it is deemed essential to an investigation."
By Alex Homer
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