Over £400k a year paid to informers

Published Tuesday, 01 April 2014
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The PSNI pays more than £400,000 a year to informers, UTV can reveal.

Over £400k a year paid to informers
The scene of the bomb attack, outside Victoria Square's underground carpark. (© Pacemaker)

The details of the payments to what the police call "covert human intelligence sources" have been revealed in a freedom of information request submitted by UTV.

The PSNI has refused to reveal how many informers it has on its books and whether they can be classed as republican or loyalist. It claims that releasing those details could compromise the safety of its sources.

The terrorist threat level in Northern Ireland remains severe with dissident republicans continuing to pose the biggest threat, planting a bomb at Victoria Square in Belfast in December and earlier this month, triggering a device to explode at Belfast City Cemetery as a PSNI landrover passed by.

When people are in a vulnerable position they should not be approached to be a state agent or an informant.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin MLA

The police have long argued that informers are a valuable weapon in their fight against terrorism.

Informers were paid a total of £422,000 for the 2012/2013 financial year.

The figure highlights a slight drop on the previous year 2011/2012 when informants were paid £434,000 in total.

Those figures have remained relatively stable over the last four years.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin Policing Board Member, said that it was a huge amount of money and he wanted to know if it was being spent properly.

"The problem is the way they [informers] are used and the way that public money is used.

"Our history here unfortunately is when they haven't been accountable. We have had state agents [who have] been involved in every sort of crime up to and including murder."

The North Belfast MLA said that the difficulty is if they are not made accountable.

"The amount of money they spend, the amount of informants they have, might be something entirely different."

This is money, in my view, well spent if it saves one life - and how do you put a value on saving somebody's life?

Paul Givan, DUP Policing Board Member

DUP MLA Paul Givan said: "What's important is that it's properly regulated and I have confidence that the police are subject to the proper legislation and [to the] the independent oversight body, which comes in through the Office of Surveillance, and they are there to give us that assurance that they are doing their job properly by way of this money that is used to get information.

"Ultimately, the police need to stand over this amount of money being used to get information from informers.

"However, the past has shown that information of this nature has helped to counteract terrorist activity and it has helped to save lives," the Lagan Valley MLA added.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (298 days ago):
Surely Mr Kelly, as a member of the policing board you are obliged to recommend that anyone with information should tell the police or crimestoppers? Is this not part of your obligation?
shamrock in Belfast wrote (299 days ago):
Touts are a despicable low life. They are in themselves criminally minded and are used by the ridiculously inept and keystone cops aka the PSNI, to point the finger at all and any i.e. the innocent as well as the guilty!!! If the PSNI are throwing money at touts, maybe they should direct some to carrickfergus and larne, where 100 masked thugs can congregate and terrorise the local community but not ONE single arrest!!! The taxpayer should request a refund as paying touts doesn't seem to work!!!!
Equality in Belfast wrote (300 days ago):
To Taxi Paul i think Gerry is the best person to ask these questions as he is policing spokesperson for SF. Why would he not want answers to where the PSNI are spending their money.
Tax Slave in Belfast wrote (300 days ago):
How much is a life worth? Maybe you should ask that question when you plan on CUTTING NHS and fire service budgets.....Now thats money well spent...
Ted in Belfast wrote (300 days ago):
I'm sure these informers are paying tax on the money they receive like us hard working citizens who earn our living honestly.
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