Sex with confidential informants: Ten things to know.

Why do officers have sexual relationships with confidential informants - because managers allow it to happen!

Each morning my in-box is full of stories about confidential informants and the work they do. Undoubtedly there is much good work going on but there are also a number of issues that repeatedly appear and don’t make for pleasant reading. One of these is sexual relationships between confidential informants and the officers who are supposed to be managing them. 19 years ago I was teaching informant management to an internationally recognised police service and the briefing I got from the commanding officer was: “I don’t care what you teach them just tell them they can’t f**k their informant. “ Unfortunately, telling people not to do things they want to do rarely works. If a police chief wants to eliminate or at least reduce the chances of this type of corrupt behaviour happening then they need to understand that while its primary cause might be human nature, its secondary cause is poor informant management structures. So here are a few thoughts on the subject. If you find your officer arguing about the veracity of these statements there is a problem!

  1. If you put people of different genders, in close working proximity, there is always a risk of sexual chemistry. Stressful situations can add to this chemistry. Informants and officers work in close proximity in stressful situations. If an officer is attracted to people of the same gender the same thing goes.

  2. Many officers do not have a satisfying sex life. A informant relationship provides the opportunity for a clandestine relationship where they believe there is less chance of them being caught.

  3. Many informants will use sex to gain control over a handler.

  4. Physical attractiveness of either party does not matter - it is the chemistry that counts.

  5. Some handlers will exploit their position of power with an informant, for sexual gratification.

  6. Officers should never meet an informant on their own.

  7. There should always be an officer of the same gender as the informant, at any meeting.

  8. Every contact with an informant, telephone or physical, should be documented within a 24 hours.

  9. Informants should only be managed by dedicated officers, who have have received sufficient amount of training. ( A standard course involves about 70 hours to teach the basics.)

  10. Where there appears to be some form of sexual attraction on the part of the informant towards a handler then this should be documented in a risk document and managed accordingly. ( Risk management should form part of basic training).

Managing informants is about managing human behaviour, both the informant and the officer’s involved. Human behaviour can be predicted. If you don’t have effective systems to manage informants this type of corruption will occur.

And if you are wondering did the officers in the aforementioned agency cease their behaviour?- NO - because the agency did not change its systems to a sufficient degree. So people do what they have always done.

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