The American Civil Liberties Union has published a report criticising the way that confidential informants (CIs) are used in the state of New Jersey. The report finds that some law enforcement agencies do not have policies regarding the proper management of CIs, while many of those that do have proper policies have failed to ensure that officers are trained to ensure that policies are adhered to. The report suggests that there are too many opportunities for deliberate or accidental misuse of CIs, leading to potential for injustice to occur.
Just three months ago, ACLU published a similar report criticising the state of Mississippi’s drug enforcement system, stating that the incentives for confidential informants need to be more carefully managed.
Such lack of confidence in the management of CIs should be a cause for great concern among law enforcement agencies. It is important that officers properly asses the risk and reliability of information provided by CIs before acting upon it. If law enforcement agencies want to ensure that this is achieved, it is vital that proper policies and procedures are in place and properly communicated to officers. Managers need to have oversight of all interaction with CIs.
In the United Kingdom, legislation and best practice has helped to ensure that CIs are managed in a safe and compliant way. Software, such as abmpegasus Source Management, helps to make sure that proper procedures are followed and that the use of CIs is fully assessed for risk and authorised accordingly.
ACLU’s report, “An Exploratory Study of the Use of Confidential Informants in New Jersey” can be found at http://www.aclu-nj.org/downloads/0611ACLUCIReport.pdf and “Numbers Game: The Vicious Cycle of Incarceration in Mississippi’s Criminal Justice System” can be found at http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/numbers-game-vicious-cycle-incarceration-mississippis-criminal-justice-system