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MP slams use of child sex abusers to catch offenders; HOME OFFICE DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL PRACTICE.

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com @jonwalker121

HOME Office ministers have defended the use of paedophile informants to bring child sex abusers to justice.

Crime minister Ben Wallace said the controversial practice could be "vital" to efforts to put offenders behind bars.

But Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan criticised it as "unacceptable".

It comes after Northumbria Police was attacked for paying a convicted child rapist almost PS10,000 to infiltrate a paedophile gang as part of Operation Sanctuary, an investigation into sex abuse and exploitation that led to more than 460 arrests and may have protected hundreds of vulnerable victims.

This included Operation Shelter, an inquiry into allegations vulnerable girls and young women in the West End of Newcastle were being plied with drugs and drink then exploited for sex, which led to 18 people being convicted of offences including rape, trafficking for sexual exploitation and supplying drugs.

It emerged during proceedings at Newcastle Crown Court that police had recruited a convicted sex offender, known only as XY, as an informant. He had drugged an under-age girl and invited another man to rape her.

Northumbria Police's former chief constable Steve Ashman defended the decision, saying: "There are dangerous men behind bars now and vulnerable people protected that would not have been the case had we not used that informant."

But others disagreed. The NSPCC said it was "appalled" that a sex offender had been recruited as an informant.

The Government has stepped in and given its backing to the tactic, after concerns were raised by Mrs Trevelyan in the House of Commons.

She asked the Home Office to agree that "when using informants to tackle serious and organised crime such as paedophile rings, it should be unacceptable to use paedophiles as informants". Bu Mr Wallace said: "I understand her concern, but I can assure her that the use of informants is strongly controlled by robust safeguards and independent oversight.

"We must not shy away from using informants, as their use in certain circumstances is vital in stopping some of the worst in society carrying out their crimes."

Former Northumbria Police detective Nigel Wilkinson last year told the Chronicle that paying the informant known as XY was the right thing to do.

He said: "The police had no choice. The welfare, safety and security of hundreds of past and future victims was ensured. Tens of sex offenders were convicted.

"I understand some people's natural dislike of the police using XY, however paedophile rings tend not to advertise, so who else is going to tell the police about the identity of offenders and crime scenes; past, present and future, other than someone like him?" Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP

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Former Northumbria Police Chief Steve Ashman

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 28, 2018
Words:455
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