Assessing the source of intelligence in intelligence reports

Has the UK College of Policing got it wrong on evaluating intelligence?

It is with reluctance that I would critique policing policy but a read through the UK College of Policing guidance on intelligence reports begs comment. Remembering that this is the guidance for all the police in the UK it is worth reading with a critical eye.

Under the heading of "Intelligence report"  we find the comment "The source of the information can be either the name and address of the person providing the information..."   

Comment 1: A completed intelligence report should never contain any details of who has provided the information from which the report is constructed. It should contain a unique reference number that links back to the original information submission. At all times the origin of the intelligence should be as well protected as possible. What they are suggesting here has implications under Article 2 ECHR  and the right to life. What is suggested in the guidance should not be considered as a reasonable measure to protect the life of someone giving information in confidence to police.

Under the words source evaluation we have:

"Source evaluation:  1. Reliable  2. Untested  3. Unreliable."  

Comment 2 This is the lazy option and a very dangerous one. The excuse often given for abandoning the previous matrix was people didn't understand it.  People didn't understand it because it was not trained to them and because supervisors did not supervise the quality of reports.  Reducing it to three values makes little sense.  What about the person who is reliable sometimes? Are they different from someone who we think is malicious in their reporting? These things matter. These evaluations help decision makers make good decisions and these are bad values. One wonders who or what was the driving force to change them particularly given the lack of consultation and the fact that many forces can't use them because of IT issues. 

There is much more to be said about the quality of this guidance but reading through it I am rapidly losing the will to live. There is so much in it that is flawed and poorly written. UK policing deserve better.

 I could write a book on the issues around information submissions and intelligence reports - actually I did - so if you want to know how manage this process in a much safer and efficient way than this have a read at the book:  Managing Intelligence - A guide for Law Enforcement Professionals. 

Or contact:  HSM Training for further information about our training.