Police informants are ordinary people who have been given special roles of researching and providing details that could help officers to stop criminal activities before they happen.
They are considered to be confidential human sources that are largely supposed to provide privileged information about a person, a gang, or an organization.
Law-enforcement agencies normally use informants to infiltrate organizations, gangs, a criminal underworld, or a tough neighborhoods.
“Though there are informants that have been hired by law enforcement agencies to infiltrate drug organizations, many are criminals already inside these groups,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime writes.
Law enforcers often categorize informants into four groups including a member of the public, a victim of a crime, a member of an organized criminal group, or police officers themselves.
Largely referred to as ‘justice collaborators or ‘cooperating witnesses,’ informants are paid by the National Police Service.
In Kenya, informants are recruited and managed by Community Policing Programme which seeks to expand the partnership to all other Government Agencies, the private sector, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and civil society.
“The overall goal is to improve public safety and the quality of life for all persons within the Country,” the Kenya National Police Service (NPS) indicates in their community policing informational booklet.
Informants who are enlisted after negotiating their freedom often get no pay other than facilitations.
How Informants Are Hired
Informants are normally hired by the NPS from a pool of suspects, victims of crime, or a person with a vantage position in a community.
Criminal informants are often recruited from a gang of criminals as part of plans for the police to understand the criminal gang.
“When police have arrested a person, they may be able to turn them to their use through lesser charges or immunity of violations based on the factors of the case,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicated on their website.
Information provided by informants about a criminal gang is used by police officers to penetrate the group and remove dangerous persons from the streets before they commit a crime.
“However, the risks to the person informing are often high when dealing with others that often carry firearms and sell or transport drugs of all kinds,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime warned.
Factors to Consider Prior to Becoming an Informant
The first thing that an individual should consider before agreeing to become an Informant is that he or she may face various injuries including loss of life.
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“The person facing these potential consequences is often seen interacting with drug involvement as well as criminals that carry firearms at all times and, in some instances, aiding in the purchase of drugs or other paraphernalia,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime advised.
Informants should know that those usually contacted for this type of risk are usually higher up in the chain of command or supply.