The Moral and Emotional World of Police Informants

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The global pattern of implementing proactive policing to address crime and insecurity continues to drive undercover techniques, including the deployment of police informants. Our aim in this article is to reflect upon research on informants policing, setting out a more comprehensive agenda that appreciates the moral significance and power dynamics at play. Our starting point is that this practice embodies immense moral and emotional tension, both for the police officer and the informant. However, these deeper aspects have been largely underestimated by scholars. Research can garner new insights by conceptualizing the tactic in terms of vulnerability, morality and emotional labour.


  • informants, vulnerability, emotions, morals
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355–373
JournalThe Police Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles
Issue number3
Early online date8 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

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