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Informants cost pounds 300k; REWARDS: West Midlands Police's annual CHIS bill.

Byline: Mark Cowan

WEST Midlands Police have paid out nearly pounds 300,000 in rewards to informants during the last financial year.

The total spending on informants, officially known as Covert Human Intelligence Sources, by forces across the country was pounds 6 million, figures released this week 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.

West Midlands Police spent pounds 291,780.

It has been claimed that a CHIS can earn between pounds 50 and pounds 2,000 for information, with a few being paid more than pounds 100,000 a year for intelligence.

The number of informants by each force has not been revealed. There have been concerns that the high amounts of cash being spent on sources - who are usually very close to criminals - are not open to public scrutiny.

But 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 CHIS include Strathclyde, which spent almost pounds 221,600, and Northumbria, with expenditure of nearly pounds 191,650.

ACPO said it could not confirm reports on how much individual informers earn.

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

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:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 30, 2009
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