Is a rapist an acceptable informant?

In Newcastle eighteen members of a gang of rapists have been convicted. They groomed hundreds of young women and sent them to sex parties. In order to gather enough evidence against the network the Northumbria police used a man convicted of rape as an informant over two years. This approach to police work has provoked fierce controversy in British media.

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The Independent (GB) /

Police shouldn't pay violent criminals

Criticism comes from The Independent, which argues that less controversial investigation methods would have had just as much success:

“There have been many other cases - too many - in other towns and cities across the UK where such tactics didn’t have to be used, and a more conventional type of police work led to convictions. In some cases, such as Rotherham, it was a journalist - Andrew Norfolk of The Times - who persevered and gathered the material that, eventually, led to action. So it is not always necessary or essential to have a central informant as such, still less to pay a substantial amount of money to one.”

The Guardian (GB) /

The end justifies the means

The Guardian defends the police's approach:

“XY’s conviction was for a crime committed 15 years ago. But it was for an offence similar to those being investigated: he had drugged and raped a 15-year-old and invited another man to rape her too. … But what, asks the NSPCC, of the message sent to his victim and to other victims by paying a rapist nearly 10,000 pounds over 21 months? In this moral dilemma, the utilitarian principle came first. The result that Northumbria police has achieved justifies the use of such an informant. But it is a narrow call that should not set a precedent.”