In this blog confidential informant management expert and ABM Software Consultant, John Buckley, discusses the need for auditing confidential informant systems and informants.
Every six to twelve months most of us will take our car along to a garage and have it serviced to check it is running OK and to have the mechanic carry out routine maintenance. After all, failure to perform this relatively simple task has the potential to leave us with a car that is uneconomical to run or, even worse, a car that isn’t running at all. In the worst-case scenario this simple neglect can leave us driving a car that fails us at a critical time and which could potentially lead to a fatality.
The same standard applies to managing confidential informants; if there is not a regular, independent audit of each informant and of the informant management system then problems will occur. Unfortunately, sometimes the consequences will be significant and irreparable harm is caused.
6 key principles that need to be applied when auditing a law enforcement agency’s confidential informant system:
- Start by reviewing everything. Chances are it has never been done and it is often easier and quicker to begin with a whole system review. Such a review should focus on policy, training and record keeping.
- Review every informant that has been registered. The software used for confidential informant management should be able to give the reviewer various performance metrics at the touch of a button in much the same way as a mechanic uses computerized diagnostics on a car. If the informant is not addressing the priorities the chief has set then de-register them and tell them you have done so.
- Review all the risks associated with the informant – they should all be documented together with the risk management measures in place. If there are too many risks associated with the informant that can’t be managed, de-register them and inform them that they no longer work for the agency.
- Reviews should be carried out by someone independent of the management of each informant. Those directly involved in the case regardless of rank are too close to be objective. If you are reviewing your agency’s whole system bringing someone from outside the agency can be a worthy investment. A quid pro quo exchange with a neighboring agency can often be adopted, provided there is sufficient expertise.
- Adopt a flexible approach to problems with officers; their faults may be a failure in the training they have received or in lack of clarity with the agency’s procedures. However, if there is deliberate wrongdoing, ensure you pursue it with the utmost vigour.
- Set mandatory review dates for supervisors to review every informant and carry out random independent audits.
The cost of a confidential informant audit
Just as a visit to a mechanic involves expenditure so will any audit of an individual confidential informant or the informant management system as a whole. However, the cost of an audit is likely to be significantly less than any failure that will, without doubt, occur the longer that audit and maintenance are delayed. After all who would drive a car without getting it checked regularly by a mechanic and who would drive a car without regular maintenance?
John regularly advises ABM in relation to the development of abmpegasus – the world’s leading law enforcement software for managing intelligence, undercover operations and confidential informants – and has written several books on intelligence management and informants. His latest book, Managing Intelligence; a Guide for Law Enforcement Professionals, will be published in June.
If you require any further details on how to carry out an audit please don’t hesitate to contact our US sales office on +1 703-326-1366 or email John directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively, please download our confidential informant audit questionnaire.