THE RUC/PSNI has paid out almost £2m to informers (agents of the British state) over the last five years – and the bill has risen sharply.
Revelations about the amount of cash being handed over to ‘covert human intelligence sources’ in return for information comes after the RUC/PSNI revealed it is facing massive funding cuts. The force revealed it is shedding up to 300 posts and closing the (HET) the Historical Enquiries Team as part of cutbacks. The figures obtained by The Irish News refere only to informers handled by the RUC/PSNI and not those recruited in the North of Ireland by MI5 and British army intelligence. The so-called security forces regularly use informers to infiltrate crime gangs and paramilitary organisations, although there is still a strong social stigma attached to the activity in many areas across the North of Ireland. Their use has also proved controversial during the Troubles amid claims of collusion. Between 2008 and 2013 more than £1.9m was paid out to informers, figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal. The bill increased significantly in the last five years. In 2008/09 £299,000 was handed over but that figure had increased to £422,000 in 2012/13. The amount of cash paid to infomers spiked in 2011/12 during the so-called Peace Process with £434,000 handed over. However, the RUC/PSNI has refused to reveal the largest or smallest amounts forked out to individuals, claiming it is exempt from providing the information. It also declined to reveal if informers have been given gifts or payments in kind. In addition, the force refused to say how many children it has recruited as informers, claiming it “can neither confirm or deny that it holds the information”. In 2005 then Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie approved a policy of ‘Children as Covert Human Intelligence Sources’ which raised concerns at the time. Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said she would exspect that payments to informers are “done in a way that has safegards and the greatest integrity”. The SDLP deputy leader also voiced concern about the potential use of children. “I would have a lot of concern about it,” she said. “I don’t really think children should be listed as informers, I don’t think it is appropriate.” She said she intends to raise the matter with the children’s commissioner and officials at the Policing Board. Asked about the cost of informormers, Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “Given the severity of the cuts we are being asked to make, every area of policing is being examined to determine how we can best deliver these savings effectively and efficiently. “As a police service, our immediate obligations must be towards keeping people safe, protecting people and preventing crime. We will continue to do that.” On the use of child informers Mr Kerr said: “In line with all other police services across the UK, the RUC/PSNI’s policy in relation to the use of Covert Human Intelligence Sources is strictly governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and is fully compliant with human rights legislation.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.