The Federation Press

Police Informers

Negotiation and power


The use of informers is a routine part of much criminal investigation work. A whole spectrum of information is used by the police, some respectable, some more controversial. Settle’s book is a scholarly analysis of the informer’s role. Based on extensive Australian field research, including a wide range of interviews, he redefines the stereotype of the gig and their part in the information spectrum.

Focussing around a detailed case study of the investigation into the Walsh Street Murders, he argues that most gigs are recruited by police use of "selective prosecution" rather than by the inducement of money.

The book also raises disturbing issues about police use of prison informers as an alternative to "verballing" and of "public policy privilege" in the courts to conceal sources of information, and about the callousness with which many individual informers are discarded when they have outlived their usefulness to the Crown.

Table of Contents


Anonymous grassing
Operation Noah
Cash for information

Respectable grassing
Neighbourhood Watch
Institutionalized information flows

Indemnified dogs
Introduction: indemnity for information
Legal doctrine
Case study: the Walsh Street investigation
Moral ambiguities

Chocolate frogs
Introduction: divide and rule
Sentencing discounts
Internal organization of the prison
Conditional release
Use of prisoners

Introduction: franchised industry
Use by the judiciary
Case study of a supergrass

Summary of findings and discussion

Appendices/ References/ Cases cited / Index

Of interest...