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Saturday, July 4, 1998 Published at 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK


Police tighten up over informers

Metropolitan Police: Commissioned report by officers and community leaders

London's Metropolitan Police are expected to be told in a report to tighten up the rules governing the use of informers after the rape and murder of a young mother.

The BBC's Stephen Cape: "Little notice was taken of Delroy Denton"
Delroy Denton, a Jamaican "yardie" gangster, entered the country on a false passport.

The police recruited him as an informer, believing that he could help them investigate organised violent crime in south London.

But despite warning signs that Denton was dangerous, he was not properly monitored.

[ image: Yardies: Operating in London.]
Yardies: Operating in London.
In April 1995 Denton raped and stabbed to death a mother of two, Marcia Laws, 24.

He was described at his trial as a "sexually-fuelled psychopath".

The case led to wide-spread calls for an investigation into how the police use informers.

The subsequent report, written by a working party of police and community leaders, makes 13 recommendations including proper training for officers who recruit criminals.

It goes on to recommend strict standards setting out how to recruit and manage informers. Officers who break the code should face disciplinary action, it adds.

The report is also understood to say that training for handling informants had been underfunded in the past.

[ image: Informers can be vital, say police]
Informers can be vital, say police
But the working party concludes that despite the Marcia Laws tragedy, informers have a vital role to play in the fight against crime.

Barrister Michael Mansfield QC told the BBC that officers were making mistakes in how they dealt with informers.

He said: "Every single police officer needs to be aware of what the protocols and procedures are".

"What has become increasingly obvious over the last decade is that most police officers are only vaguely aware that there is something they have got to do.

"But they are not sure what to do, or what it is, and by the time they have asked they have already committed some of the errors."

The Metropolitan Police have declined to comment ahead of the official release of the report.

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