Thursday 26 January 2017

Police Go To Court To Stop The Public Looking At Their Spending

Police Scotland spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on so-called 'informants' each year but have refused a public request to reveal exactly how much they spend and how many informants they pay.

At first glance it makes sense that police would want to keep this quiet because when it comes to something as sensitive as informants police really wouldn't want that sort of information revealed to all and sundry.

But upon closer inspection we see that police haven't actually been asked for any in-depth information on their informants at all.

All they have been asked is how much of taxpayers money have they spent on Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) and how many informants have they had since the new force began in 2013. Two simple figures. How much and how many. Was it £100k, £200k, £300k? Was that paid to 100 informants, 200, 500?

No individual details, no names, no pack drills, just general numbers.

It's called transparency.

The Scottish public simply want to know how police managed to blew £400,000 of our money in two years on this and if it was money properly, appropriately and legally spent.

And it makes sense that we would want some transparency from Police Scotland about this.

Especially when just a few short years ago we caught police using valuable resources to try and infiltrate such things as campaigner Tilly Gifford's environmental group who were - wait for it - opposing aviation expansion.

Hardly serious organised crime!

Besides, Tilly had - and still has - a perfectly legal right to campaign against aeroplanes and emissions and environmental issues and all that kinda stuff if she so wishes. Whatever floats your boat, as they say.  It's not as if she's some sort of Scottish mafia Don.

So not only have untrustworthy Police Scotland spent at least £400,000 of our money on, well, we don't know what, we now discover that police are also going to spend even more of our money on going to court to prevent us from finding out how they spent the £400k.

And police don't go to court to try and stop investigations in to their behaviour for nothing, believe me.

They've got something to hide from us, for sure.

How ironic that police are using our money to pay for a court case to stop us finding out what they're doing with our money.

I think it's a scandal.

And so does the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC), because he has been quoted as saying: "The Commissioner fails to see how disclosure of the information requested would place anyone at the remotest risk of identification, or provide any Serious Organised Crime Groups with the remotest indication that it has been infiltrated, as claimed by Police Scotland."

He's quite correct.

No proper, bonafide, individual criminal informant will be put at risk in any way whatsoever by police releasing the wide-ranging general information we're asking for. Not one.

So it seems Police Scotland are far more worried that we, the public, might just find out that they are squandering public money that could be put to far better use, especially in times of austerity for all.

Or worse, perhaps police are hiding the fact that they are using public money to target the public who speak out against them and criticise them.

For all we know, police could be illegally spying on the public and don't want the public to know.

Just as they didn't want us to know when they illegally spied on journalists who were trying to hold police to account...