New figures have revealed how much Derbyshire Constabulary spent in payments to informers over a four-year period.
The data, which was obtained after Freedom of Information (FoI) requests were made to forces nationwide, shows that Derbyshire paid £165,957 for criminal intelligence between 2014-2018. The 2018-19 figure was not disclosed.
Informants are used by the police to find out information on criminal activity such as murder, burglaries and drug rings.
A Derbyshire Constabulary spokesperson said in a statement: “Informants are just one of the tactics we use to tackle criminality in Derbyshire and their use is strictly controlled.”
The Metropolitan Police was the highest spender out of 27 forces nationwide with informants receiving £4,363,226 over the past five years.
North Wales Police spent the lowest amount, just under £55,000, during the same period.
Eighteen forces failed to provide figures in response to the FoI requests from the University of Portsmouth journalism department.
Neil Wood, a former undercover police officer who is now chief executive of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, said in his experience around ‘90 per cent of informants are used in drug-related offences’.
He said: “Using police informants for other crimes such as burglaries and theft is the most cost-effective form of policing you can do.”
But Mr Wood also pointed out that what informants are mostly used for does not reduce levels of crime in the area.
“If you arrest a drug dealer on the information of an informant, you remove a drug dealer. All it does is create an opportunity for another drug dealer; crime doesn’t reduce," he added.
A spokesperson for the pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “It is critical that there is transparency in how taxpayers’ money is spent, even in the murky world of crime-fighting.
“All bodies, including the police, ought to be aware of the public interest in knowing where their cash is being spent, especially given that taxpayers are being asked to pay record amounts this year,” the spokesperson added
The overall 2014-19 figure from the forces who did respond was £13.6million, according to the figures.