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Cops defend pounds 291,000 to informants; CRIME: Payments 'vital to get offenders'.

Byline: Emma Stone

WEST Midlands Police paid out pounds 291,780 in rewards for information about criminals in the last financial year.

The total spending on informants across the country was pounds 6 million, figures show.

The Metropolitan Police spent most, with more than pounds 1.8 million, Greater Manchester Police spent pounds 329,497 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland spent pounds 299,000.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) defended the payments, describing the use of informants as part of the armoury used by forces to defend and protect the public.

Patricia Gallan, Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and chair of the ACPO National Source Working Group, said: "Their use has proved vital in bringing offenders to justice in cases ranging from serious organised crime to burglary. They are a valuable source of intelligence and their use is justifiable and proportionate when set against other police tactics."

Other forces with the largest bills for what are known to police as "covert human intelligence sources", include Strathclyde, which spent al-mospounds 221,600, and Northumbria, with nearly pounds 191,650.

ACPO said it could not confirm reports that most informers earned between pounds 50 and pounds 2,000 for information, with a few paid more than pounds 100,000 a year for intelligence.

"Each force has a rigorous chain of command in place which ensures the proper management of informants and decides levels of reward," Asst Chief Con Gallan added.

Every police force is audited on its use of informants and is subject to an annual inspection by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners to ensure compliance with the law, ACPO said.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 30, 2009
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