The PSNI spends nearly £1,000 a day on whistleblowers and counting.
ata, obtained by our sister magazine The Belfast Telegraph via Freedom of Information, shows that over £1.7million has been paid out to whistleblowers over the past five years.
Covert human intelligence (CHIS) sources are used to obtain information about criminal activity, but they are controversial.
Over the years, several reports from the Police Ombudsman have raised serious concerns about the use of whistleblowers in paramilitary gangs.
The most recent, published earlier this year, looked at the policing of killings by loyalist terrorists in south Belfast from 1990 to 1998.
Concerns raised by Ombudsman Marie Anderson included the “continued, unwarranted use by the Special Department of whistleblowers involved in serious crime, including homicide, and its passive ‘blinding of the eye’ at such activities”.
The informants in question were members of the UDA or the UFF.
Much of the uneasiness associated with managing whistleblowers is related to the fact that they often engage in criminal activity in order to deter any suspicions raised by their co-workers.
What level of crime they are allowed to engage in by their leaders to maintain their cover is a source of constant controversy.
In 2021/22 the PSNI paid £362,286 to whistleblowers, up from £343,006 the previous year.
£1,735,177 has been spent since the start of 2017/18.
The PSNI did not disclose any further information, citing several exceptions under the Freedom of Information Act.
“CHIS (regardless of their motivation) provide information at particular personal risk to themselves and their families,” the PSNI said.
“As previous cases have shown, identified CHIS can result in significant physical harm or psychological trauma resulting from the threat of physical harm.
“This issue is particularly acute in cases involving serious crime and terrorism, where the threat to individuals is significant.
“The health and safety of everyone is important to the PSNI. The PSNI does not release information that could jeopardize the identification of an informant.
“Given the current security climate in the UK, no information should be disclosed that could assist a terrorist. To what extent confirmation or denial can help a terrorist is unknown, but it is clear that it will impact a force’s ability to monitor terrorist activity.
“The public trusts the PSNI to make appropriate decisions related to their safety and security. The only way to reduce risk is to be careful about what is made publicly available and, in certain circumstances like these, to confirm or deny that information is held.
“The cumulative effect of terrorists gathering intelligence from multiple sources would paint a picture of vulnerabilities in specific scenarios. As more information is revealed over time, the tactical infrastructure of not just a force area, but of the country as a whole, becomes more detailed.
“Any incident resulting from such disclosure would by default compromise national security.”
The numbers related solely to the PSNI’s handling of informants. MI5 deals with much of the intelligence information related to national security while also dealing with agents.
Last August, MI5 agent Brian McFadden arranged meetings of New IRA leadership which were bugged and led to the arrest of a number of people.
Trevor Clarke, a member of the DUP Police Council, said it was a “sad reflection” of our society in 2022 that £1,000 a day would have to be spent on whistleblowers, but it was a “price well worth paying.” ‘ to protect everyone in Northern Ireland from terrorism and criminal gangs.
“The intelligence teams that worked so doggedly in the 1970s, 80s and 90s are often criticized for the way agents were handled, but it was their success that castrated the terrorist organizations.
“They are often the unsung heroes of the peace process.
“The PIRA was so infiltrated that they were suspicious of each other and couldn’t function.
“Indeed, even in Republican circles today, people at the top of Sinn Féin are rumored about their relationship with the security services. Ultimately, the security services were critical to defeating terrorism from our streets.
“Recently, too, the undermining of dissident Republicans has been led by intelligence agencies, again showing the price is worth paying. There is no price to put a price on a life saved.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/revealed-psni-paying-out-1000-a-day-to-informants-41917393.html Revealed: PSNI pays £1,000 a day to whistleblowers