Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some Brits see snitching abuses and move to act

If British judges and barristers can now remove their wigs, at least in civil court, perhaps they can also be the first nation to remove the cloak of secrecy around law enforcement's use of confidential informants.

An item from the BBC Monday ("Informant system open to abuse") declares that several political groups in the UK have launched a debate over whether and how to prevent informant abuses and to tally the real costs in treasures and tolerated crime. At a minimum they hope to find out how much police spend paying informants.

Despite the objections of some officers in the story, I fully understand the demand for greater accountability in spending on "snitches." Several of the problems in the UK sound precisely like the informant-related abuses that routinely crop up here in America.

Said one career informant, "I know of officers who have run non-existent sources and claimed the money themselves. Some use it for Friday afternoon drinking sessions." Me too.

The same informant said, "A lot of units turn a blind eye to these sources committing crimes. In fact they sometimes say to them, 'Just make sure you don't get caught'." That happens here, too.

A detective told BBC, "Most of these people lie for a living - the trick is to find the lie... and the truth." The problem, though, certainly here in the States, is that cops can't always turn that trick. Ask Regina Kelly and the other innocent people accused by a mendacious snitch in Hearne, TX.

Seems like the British have many of the same problems with informants we do here. Bully for those trying to change things. I hope they'll lead the way.

See related Grits posts.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Here in Oregon all the official "police scandals" revolve around drug use or sex. Lying about drugs is the modus operandi and clever lying to catch criminals is even lauded. Police often plant evidence and even when caught red handed get nothing more than a slap on the wrist - and no media coverage.
I caught our school district lying to kids about drugs. Nobody denies this or refutes any of my points. They just ignore this and adamantly refuse to publicize this unrefuted fact. Local pastors who go ballistic over issues of personal misconduct and doctrinal issues are always silent when it comes to institutional corruption and public deceit. Jesus, their nominal lord and master, was crucified because he took a diametrically opposed viewpoint. Maybe they've learned from his example.