Loughborough University
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An examination of the relationship between informers and their handlers within the police service in England

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posted on 2015-01-19, 09:38 authored by Roger E. Billingsley
The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between Informers and the police officers who handle them in England. Informers are specifically defined and can be differentiated from other sources of information or informants, such as public spirited citizens and police contacts. This research centres around the relationship, how it starts and is maintained, and its consequences. This is a partnership, although not necessarily equal. It is assumed that the partnership is unique and cannot be compared with other alliances such as the doctor and his patient. This research examines whether that assumption is correct. The reasons or so called motives for Informers helping the police have been examined to determine whether these motives have any relevance to the relationship, and if the reasons for informing affect the partnership in any way. In particular, the study has examined the change of motives over time, the results of which will inevitably provide management information to the police service in their future supervision and control of Informers. It is important to establish why some police officers become involved in the use of Informers. This has been achieved through a separate study undertaken in the Lincolnshire police district. Questionnaires were used to interview two groups, those who have been actively involved, and those who have not. A comparison has been made of their responses. The results have failed to show specific reasons why some police officers become involved in the use of Informers, other than their individual choice to use it as an investigative tool. The thrust of the study has examined how far the two groups will go in terms of breaching the criminal law and the police discipline code, in furtherance of their relationship. It has been established that both Informers and police officers consider it acceptable to break the law. There is evidence that both groups use their discretion in selecting the information that comes in their possession, and there are circumstances when they will not act on the information they have received. A substantial number of Informers and Handlers are prepared to commit criminal offences, or allow the commission of offences because of their relationship. The findings of this research have identified shortcomings in the way Informers are managed and controlled by the police service, and recommendations have been made in order that national Guidelines on the use of Informers can be amended.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Roger Eric Billingsley

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Masters Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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