Note that "anonymity" is encouraged with this scheme and such shcemes
were used in the past by the UK police.
The Independent, Police turn to the internet with secure website for
informants, By Severin Carrell, 5 May 2000
Police informants and the general public could soon be using the
internet to tell police about alleged drug dealers, racists and kerb-
A pilot scheme asking the public to inform on alleged criminals using
a specially designed secure website was unveiled by police in
Bradford, West Yorkshire, yesterday.
The Bradford Crimebeat initiative, the first of its kind in Britain,
asks the public to fill out a confidential online form, giving the
police details of the alleged offence or suspect and the location of
the crime and the name of the suspect. The site is at
The scheme is the latest development in a well-established trend to
use the media to appeal for tip-offs on alleged criminals, after the
success of programmes such as Crimewatch UK and the Crimestoppers
campaign. Chief Superintendent Stuart Hyde, who has been involved in
setting up the site, said: "We want to provide every means possible
for people to inform us about criminal activity that they're aware
"If they've got suspicions about people and know about people dealing
drugs, breaking into people's houses or stealing cars, then we would
like to know about it. We know that the site will get rubbish on it
but I'm hoping for the little gems of information that will get
However, Professor Patrick Dunleavy, from the London School of
Economics, warned that the service could have little significant use.
He said an internet-based service for naming alleged benefit
fraudsters was launched last year by the Department of Social
Security, but little had since been heard of it. He said: "Anonymised
e-mail might well be seen as more secure than a phone call but I
wouldn't have thought the prospects for large-scale use are all that
The Bradford scheme was inspired by a well-established police
initiative in the United States, called cybersnitch.com and based in
Boston, Massachussets, which was unavailable online yesterday. Ch
Supt Hyde said colleges in the city, particularly the University of
Bradford, had sought ways to send information by e-mail to the force
about kerb-crawling and stalking around their campuses.
In several areas of the city, street prostitution is endemic and
leads to harassment of female students. "This just provides us with
another way of dealing with it," he said. The initiative has already
generated one "promising" tip-off from the handful of "hits" the site
received in the week before it was publicised formally yesterday.
At present, the scheme is restricted to the greater Bradford area. If
it succeeds it could be spread to cover the full West Yorkshire
police area, which includes Leeds, Wakefield, Keighley and part of
the Yorkshire Dales. The website, which includes 60 pages of
information and advice on crime preventionschemes, also warns that
the force will investigate malicious tip-offs, and could prosecute
anyone who makes them.
But Ch Supt Hyde said that the force would accept anonymous tip-offs
and confirmed that some informants could use portable and untraceable
Mr. Yaman Akdeniz,
Director, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)
Tel: +44 (0) 498 865116
075A 1640 8F7A 0273 6C24 B9C3 551F A9F1 0397 F663
MARKED MAN!; The jailed conman who turned police informer faces prison hell...
CONMAN Paul Dawes will be a marked man behind bars after being branded a police informer, the Sunday Mercury can reveal today.
Dawes - known as The Fat Man because he once weighed 28 stone - was jailed for five years at Worcester Crown Court on Friday.
The court heard he masterminded a 'well-executed sting' in which he promised to sell luxury cars at knock-down prices - and then fled the country with pounds 670,000.
Smooth-talking Dawes is now suffering from multiple sclerosis and his barrister said his swindling days are over.
Defender Benjamin Nicholls tried to save his client from a jail sentence by handing to Judge John Cavell a copy of an article in the satirical magazine Private Eye.
He said it was published after his previous court appearance five weeks ago, at which he pleaded guilty to seven charges of fraud and deception.
Mr Nicholls said copies of the article were circulating in Gloucester Prison where Dawes had been held following his arrest last Christmas, adding: 'You know the potential risk to people said to fall into that category.
'They should not have to suffer extra-judicial punishment.'
The article was not read out in open court, but the Sunday Mercury has learned it alleged that Dawes was a police informer.
West Midlands Police, who brought Dawes to justice, said: 'We never publicly comment on whether a named person is, or is not, a police informant.'
LONDON (AFP) - Crime pays in new ways in southeast England where police are rewarding informants with 10 pounds (14 euros, 18 dollars) in mobile phone credits for useful tip-offs via text messaging.
Sussex Police have set up a special number to take information on crimes from members of the public via SMS messaging, under a pilot scheme called "Textme" that is aimed at young people.
"We log the information from each text we receive and subject them to proper investigation," said inspector Mark Piper, who thought up the idea.
"If the information proves useful, we respond with a thank you and tell them we would like to give them 10 pounds credit" -- worth about 100 text messages on the typical pay-as-you-go cellphone.
"The great thing about this scheme is that you could be walking down the street and text in about a crime without anyone knowing."
Nine text messages were received on the first day of Textme this week, including information on car crime and possible drug dealing. Police will only try to trace informants in case of serious crime such as murder.
£20,000 prize to kill grass.(News)
Supergrass Dennis Woodman sneaked into hiding yesterday.
It came after Britain's underworld slapped a pounds 20,000 contract on his head.
The 40-year-old went to the top of their hit list the moment he walked free from Peterhead Prison.
Gangland bosses have ordered his killing as payback for confessions he invented against a string of hardened crooks.
Woodman, who has a record of sickening sex crimes, had served three-quarters of an eight-year sentence for kidnapping a Dumfries farmer.
He became notorious five years ago when he testified as a key prosecution witness in the trial of Glasgow hardman Paul Ferris over the murder of drug baron Arthur Thompson Jnr.
Ferris walked clear after Woodman was found to have lied on evidence.
He was given cash and new identities from three English forces after making up confessions from 20 remand prisoners.
But last night, liar Woodman was understood to be changing his identity in a bid to hide from the hitmen.
An underworld source said: "There are at least three contracts on his head - one is for pounds 20,000.
"Basically, Dennis Woodman is a dead man."
A police insider added: "There is no doubt that many people now want him dead for the lies and trouble he has caused."
DEATH OF THE SUPERGRASS; Human rights law turns police informers into covert human intelligence sources.(News)
THE day of the supergrass in Scotland is coming to an end because of tough new rules on human rights.
Detectives are to be barred from directly handling information from the touts in a bid to cut out corruption and comply with European law.
The move has been forced on them by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill.
It sets out a detailed framework for police practices on the handling of informants to bring Scotland into line with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Under the new rules, the informants, will be re-named Covert Human Intelligence Sources, CHISES for short.
The new law demands informants have to fill in a ten-page document, detailing their code name, which officer deals with their information and at which station the cop is based.
Each form is numbered so the authorities can keep track of the flow of information and how much they have been paid.
The document even records the informant's nickname. Weird names such as Finger and Thumb have been used by the grasses.
All police forces in Scotland have been told to set up central units staffed by specially-trained officers, who will deal with existing informants, take their information and pay them.
But last night, top cops told how they feared the new rules would drive grasses away from giving vital information and lead to an upsurge in serious crime.
In the past, the grass or tout has been a traditional way for police to get information. Usually a criminal, he or she sells information on serious crimes in return for lucrative cash payments.
The arrangement is an informal one in which copper and crook meet in a bar, snooker hall or car park to carry out the exchange of information and money.
But now that cosy relationship between officers and criminals is set to end.
One of the objections to this arrangement was that crooks were often allowed to carry on a life of crime unhindered while they continued to inform the police.
However, the move to tighten up the handling of touts has horrified many officers. They say CHISES will not want to deal with strangers and will then stop coming forward with information.
One senior detective with Strathclyde Police, who is opposed to the new rules, told the Sunday Mail: "I know the system had its faults, but relationships with informants are built up by an individual officer over years and a bond of trust develops.
"Informants face potentially serious consequences for informing on other criminals and they are not going to talk to just anyone."
Touts can earn up to pounds 5000 for top-class information leading to conviction, but routine amounts tend to vary from pounds 50 to pounds 500.
Detectives fear payments will not be high enough to persuade touts to sign up to the new system.
Traditionally, a supergrass would be put on a register and assigned a handler, usually one of Detective Constable rank.
If he had information then he would contact the detective and a meeting would be arranged at a discreet location.
Payment would be made in cash normally only if the information resulted in an arrest. The hand-over of cash would involve the detective and a senior colleague, usually of sergeant or inspector rank, to act as a witness.
It was not unusual for police and informants to meet for drinks or meals or a game of snooker.
One retired Strathclyde detective told the Sunday Mail that he often invited his best informant and his wife to his house for dinner.
But under the new system, the police officer and his informant will have next to no contact.
Once an officer has identified someone willing to be a tout, he will hand the name to a central unit at his police HQ, staffed by specially-trained officers. They will then deal with the informer, who will have no contact with other officers.
Each new informant will have to be registered on the 10-page form. Any meetings and cash payments will be strictly logged and informal contacts will be discouraged.
It is believed that there are 1500 registered informants in Scotland, with the majority in Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders.
Superintendent Fred McManus, of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, is very concerned about the new proposals and says it could hinder the ability of the police to solve crime.
He said: "The new guidelines are very bureaucratic. Detectives will be reluctant to enlist informants for the new units because of the red tape involved.
"Inevitably, this will lead to the loss of valuable information on serious crime."
Informants often tend to be lower- level criminals who have the ear of bigger figures.
But some are themselves leading criminals who use the police to eliminate their crime rivals while at the same time feathering their own nests.
Father and son team Roderick McLean, snr and jnr, are believed to have sent scores of crooks to jails over the years with their information to police.
They were part of a gang who were sentenced to a total of 128 years in jail for their part in a pounds 10 million cannabis-smuggling operation that was foiled by customs officers in the north of Scotland.
McLean snr is serving a 21- year sentence, while his son was given 12 years.
Before his arrest, outwardly- respectable businessman Roderick McLean snr, 60, was a man thieves trusted as the fence who would buy their stolen property.
The McLeans ran a shop in busy Leith Walk, Edinburgh, whose motto was: "We buy and sell anything".
It was a magnet to petty thieves who traded the proceeds of housebreaking for cash.
The crooks flocked to the premises, unaware that its owners were living up to its motto - especially when it came to selling police details about their criminal activities.
Cops knew they could get information from McLean, information that, over the years, led to scores of criminals going to jail. Many of the thieves progressed up the criminal ladder and the shop's owners continued to mix with them and then supply the police with tips on far bigger crimes.
It has been alleged that police in Edinburgh turned a blind eye to their reset activities, something which they have always denied.
They certainly did not suspect there was another side to McLean - one that was fully exposed when he was convicted for his part in masterminding the pounds 10million cannabis shipment in 1997.
Despite opposition from rank and file police officers, the new rules on informers have the support of The Scottish Human Rights Centre and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland).
A spokesman for the Scottish Human Rights Centre said: "As we have seen, the alleged misuse of police informants has already led to allegations of corruption against certain detectives in one police force.
"The new regulations will ensure that the police are not tempted to overstep the relationship between them and the informer."
But one tout said: "These rules will scare off lots of guys."
DENNIS WOODMAN, 40, is believed to have helped put away more than 20 fellow crooks.
He was the subject of an investigation by the then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, in the 1980s after complaints about his use by police to get convictions.
In 1992, he was a key witness in the trial of Paul Ferris, who was cleared of murdering Glasgow drugs dealer Arthur Thompson jnr.
Woodman claimed Ferris had confessed to him in jail, but was exposed as a phoney.
On release, Woodman was given a new identity, but hitmen traced him to southern England, where he and his girlfriend survived a gun and knife attack.
He is now believed to be living somewhere in London.
WILLIAM LYLE was murdered in the east end of Glasgow in 1996 over claims he was a police informant.
He was stabbed and clubbed to death in broad daylight near Celtic Park.
One of the killers, who was masked, was spotted giving passers- by a victory salute.
But a man charged with his murder walked free because of a lack of evidence.
The High Court in Glasgow heard that days before the killing, graffiti had been daubed on tenement walls saying: "Willie Lyle supergrass, your time is up, bye bye."
Lyle, 36, who had almost 50 convictions, some for violent crime, survived six attempts on his life.
His family always denied he was a grass.
ROBERT BEATSON, 62, is at the centre of one of Scotland's biggest police corruption probes.
He became a registered informant, known as The Man from Portobello, eight years ago.
His information led to the conviction of scores of Edinburgh criminals.
In January 1999, he accused detectives of supplying him with drugs to set up dealers who were later arrested.
Beatson also claimed that money he was due for information was withheld.
A team of officers from Strathclyde Police have spent more than a year checking evidence at a cost of more than pounds 1.5 million.
Their 88-volume report has now been submitted to the Crown Office.
Beatson has now been placed in a safe house and can never return to his Craigmillar home.
ANOTHER crook turned informer is 42- year-old William Gillen.
He was placed under police protection after he, too, agreed to give evidence against Paul Ferris during his murder trial in 1992.
For six months, Gillen lived in hotels, boarding houses and flats, guarded around the clock by police.
Even while he slept, police watched him from another room on a special monitor.
He alleged that Ferris and two men shot him in the legs in a lay-by at Loganswell, Ayrshire. He claimed he was shot by Ferris because he had failed to provide information on a gangland rival.
But the attempted murder charge against Ferris was found not proven.
Cops 'benefit in long run'
JOHN SCOTT, the chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Centre, says the new rules should benefit police in the long term.
He believes they will result in fewer challenges in the appeal courts to convictions of criminals through evidence of informants.
Mr Scott said the measures will seem cumbersome to the police at first.
He said: "I can understand detectives being unhappy at the prospect of filling out all these forms.
"But it will also make it easier for officers to get arrest warrants if they identify a registered informant as their source."
This story is five years old, obviously the snitch-ocracy situation is much worse today...
June 3, 2000
Police Informants: Has a Vital Crime-Busting Tool Become a 'Snitch-ocracy' Run Wild?
By LARRY McSHANE
NEW YORK (AP) -- The informant's secretly recorded tapes -- exhibits 7A and 7B, as introduced by the prosecution -- incriminated the four "gangstas" charged with the attempted murder of a Bronx police captain.
The defendants listened closely as the tapes were played in a pretrial hearing. As the sound of their "confessions" filled the courtroom, recalled defense attorney Lynne Stewart, two of the defendants began laughing.
"Both of them said, `That's not my voice,"' Stewart recalled. They were right: an FBI expert soon determined all the "voices" belonged to informant Julio "Tuco" Caraballo, a career criminal with a rap sheet longer than the 10-minute tape.
The doctored tapes provided by the would-be impressionist led to the swift release of three of the defendants on the eve of their April trial. (The fourth was already doing time on an unrelated case.)
"No one has ever heard an informant story that comes up to this level," said Stewart, attorney for one of the suspects. "This guy was a real grifter."
Yet in the ever-expanding brotherhood of CIs -- lawspeak for confidential informants -- tales of sweet deals for bad guys with worse intent are fairly commonplace.
The legal world is rife with stories of informant abuse: the mob turncoat who fatally stabbed a coke dealer while under federal witness protection, or the crackhead crook who tried to ruin a decorated detective in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Altruism is rarely an informant's motive; self-preservation generally works. Caraballo hoped to duck drug charges and a lengthy jail term when he went to work for police.
"They are many more informants than ever before," said Gerry Lefcourt of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "They cut deals to save themselves. And they have to make evidence up if they don't have it."
Draconian sentencing statutes with mandatory minimum terms have encouraged more criminals to testify, defense lawyers say. Judges have no room for discretionary sentences; they can only show leniency if the prosecutor requests it in a form letter called a 5K-1.
"Every informant wants that 5K-1 letter," said veteran criminal attorney Ron Kuby.
Informants, in many ways, remain the lifeblood of law enforcement. Not even the harshest government critics advocate their elimination.
Informants helped take down the American Mafia, played key roles in infiltrating white supremacist groups and militias, and assisted in cracking the World Trade Center bombing case (where the informant collected a reported $1 million).
But some critics, including an ex-federal agent who handled scores of informants during a 25-year career, complain that the current system -- which has grown into a multimillion dollar government business -- has become heavily flawed.
"Criminal justice has now turned into a snitch-ocracy," Kuby said. "There is wholesale reliance on the worst people, with the meanest of motives, to secure justice for all."
Kuby's observation comes from experience. In 1995, Malcolm X's daughter Qubilah Shabazz was arrested for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in revenge for his alleged role in the 1965 assassination of her father.
Shabazz was implicated by informant Michael Fitzpatrick in return for a $45,000 payment. But Fitzpatrick had a history of his own.
Once a bomber with Rabbi Meir Kahane's violent Jewish Defense League, Fitzpatrick turned on his cohorts, became an informant and was relocated to Minneapolis. Once there, he had three trips to rehab for cocaine abuse. He was facing drug charges when he opted to flip against Shabazz, a high school classmate.
Federal prosecutors offered 40 taped phone calls between Fitzpatrick and Shabazz. The defense noted that 38 of them were initiated by the informant. Entrapment, shouted Shabazz's lawyer (and Kuby's late partner), William Kunstler, describing Fitzpatrick as "evil and immoral." Even the case prosecutor labeled Fitzpatrick a "very unsympathetic" witness.
Faced with Fitzpatrick's credibility woes, prosecutors struck a plea bargain to keep him off the stand. In 1997, a judge simply dropped the charges against Shabazz.
Yet Fitzpatrick's story was no anomaly.
Nicholas Mitola was a New Jersey mobster who flipped in 1987, testifying against his cohorts in the Lucchese crime family. The Witness Protection Program moved him to Spokane, Wash.
Once west, Mitola returned to his old ways: gambling and dealing drugs. On Feb. 20, 1991, after a cocaine buy went bad, Mitola fatally stabbed a drug dealer and stuffed his body into a car trunk.
Mitola did barely 28 months for the slaying before his release on Aug. 13, 1997. He then opened an espresso company that never produced a single cup of joe, using it as cover for a $5 million a year gambling ring, authorities said.
In a nice twist, Mitola was indicted March 8 with the help of an informant -- his estranged girlfriend.
In another humiliation for law enforcement, a Fortune 500 executive was shot by members of a federal task force's SWAT team during an early-morning raid on his San Diego home in 1993. A confidential informant had told authorities that the 45-year-old executive had 5,000 pounds of cocaine in his garage, with four armed Colombians guarding the stash. There was no other corroborating evidence.
When the gunsmoke cleared, the invading feds recovered nothing. The executive survived three gunshot wounds, sued the federal government and collected $2.75 million.
A more recent case involves Zaher Zahrey, a decorated undercover detective in Brooklyn with 11 years on the job. A drug-addicted serial mugger, looking to beat a life sentence, implicated him as a member of "The Supreme Crew," a murderous drug gang.
Worse, a police investigator was captured on tape promising the criminal, Sidney "Bubba" Quick, "a very, very, very sweet deal" if he could further implicate the policeman.
Quick soon did. Based solely on his testimony, Zahrey was indicted on multiple corruption charges. He was jailed for six months pending trial, separated from his wife and three children.
A Brooklyn federal jury acquitted him in five minutes on June 27, 1997.
His career derailed, Zahrey now pounds a beat at the police tow pound, and awaits resolution of a wrongful prosecution lawsuit against the city.
During depositions for the civil suit, several prosecutors and police officers acknowledged they had no training in the proper handling of an informant, according to Zahrey's attorney, Joel Rudin.
Meanwhile, in April, former Black Panthers leader Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt received a $4.5 million settlement from the FBI and the city of Los Angeles for false imprisonment. Pratt, 53, spent 25 years in prison until his conviction for murdering a California school teacher was overturned in 1997.
Pratt accused the FBI and police of hiding exculpatory evidence. But the judge who finally granted Pratt a new trial cited the credibility of a key government witness, Julius Butler.
The witness, who claimed that Pratt confessed to him, was a police informant.
Mike Levine, a retired federal agent who spent a quarter-century handling informants, remembered the only instruction he ever received for dealing with the folks he now dismissively calls "rats."
"Every undercover is told the same thing: Do not trust an informant. They are habitual, congenital liars," Levine recalled. "And then an assistant U.S. attorney stands up and tells a jury, `Believe this witness."'
In the Bronx case, Caraballo was the unlikeliest prosecution witness since Sammy "The Bull" Gravano and his 19 murders mesmerized courtrooms eight years ago. (Gravano's recent arrest on Arizona drug charges scuttled a pending jury-tampering case involving mob boss John Gotti.)
Caraballo's rap sheet was 36 pages long. It covered 30 years of crime, and featured 26 convictions.
But he was willing to help solve the wounding of Bronx police Capt. Steven Plavnick, shot on Oct. 19, 1996, allegedly by gang members retaliating for the choking death of a Bronx man by a city police officer.
Caraballo, 55, was under drug indictment when he volunteered to identify Plavnick's shooters in return for leniency.
"Then he went out and made tapes," defense attorney Stewart says. "And I mean quite literally, he MADE them."
According to Stewart, the prosecution case was inextricably tied to the tapes, which were unquestionably doctored. One tape was erased, a la Rosemary Woods, to delete a section that would have exonerated the suspects. On another tape, Caraballo did the voices for himself and two suspects.
Prosecutors proceeded anyway, right up until the FBI itself called the tapes bogus.
"Law enforcement thinks anybody who comes to them must be truthful. The informant's been shown the error of his ways, and reformed," Stewart said.
Lefcourt's national defense lawyers' group has asked Congress to enact a corroboration statute, ensuring that defendants cannot be convicted solely on accomplice testimony.
That hasn't happened yet, so cases like Detective Zahrey's continue to reach trial despite a dearth of evidence.
The prosecution's comments? Most often, there is no comment when cases blow up in their faces, creating a public relations disaster.
The Bronx district attorney's office did not return a call about the Caraballo case, although the maladroit snitch could face perjury charges. And ex-U.S. Attorney Andrew Maloney, whose office brokered the Gravano deal, was just as close-mouthed when his star snitch was busted in Arizona for allegedly running a drug ring.
"He will not be speaking," his secretary said in a 10-second phone call, "about Sammy Gravano."
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