Community intelligence: Exploring human source as a new frontier
Australasian Institute of Policing
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice/Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change
The use of informants is by no means a new or novel method to obtaining intelligence about criminal activity. However, over the last decade many police agencies have reviewed and changed the way they engage with informants to devise efficient crime reduction and problem solving strategies. In particular, policing agencies have made significant developments towards professionalising the police–informant relationship (Madinger, 2000; Innes, 2000; Crous, 2009). These changes are reflected in the replacement of the term ‘police informant’; a term commonly associated with secrecy and ‘snitching’ with terms that reflect a much stronger focus on the development of human intelligence (HUMINT) capabilities such as ‘Covert Human Intelligence Sources’ (CHISs) or ‘Human Sources’ (HSs). Police agencies have also sought to improve processes and practices governing the cultivation and management of HSs (Crous, 2011). Agency policies and frameworks have been introduced, each of which have a dual purpose; to increase the depth and breadth of information obtained from HSs and to provide appropriate governance in an area of high risk. The purpose of this article is to reflect on recent efforts by Western Australian Police (WA Police) to improve police use of HSs. To achieve this, reference is made to a pilot project implemented by WA Police which focussed on building HS capability at a local District level. The article highlights the outcomes and lessons learnt by WA Police in adopting a localised approach to developing human intelligence capabilities.