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Juvenile Police Informants: Friendship, Persuasion, Pretense

NCJ Number
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice Volume: 4 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 234-246
Mary Dodge
Date Published
July 2006
13 pages
Through a presentation of known cases and semi-structured interviews with law enforcement agents, this article sought to provide a better understanding on the use of minors, as informants, in police investigations.
The majority of law enforcement agencies are unlikely to have established policy for the use of underage informants, most are reluctant to officially admit to the practice. However, emphasis on drug arrests and the continued use of illegal substances by teenagers increases pressure on law enforcement agents to engage juvenile informants. Information provided by juveniles is useful to police officers, but the role of an investigative informant places the youth in danger. Additional research is recommended that can inform policy and police procedures is needed to fully understand the dynamics of juvenile informant situations from a variety of perspectives. Police use of underage informants presents many of the same problems that have been documented in regard to adult informants. This article examines emergent trends, noting some of the lethal consequences for youths who have taken on the role of police informant through case presentations. The views of law enforcement personnel regarding their involvement with young people in undercover work is presented, as well as details of legislative responses to the use of underage informants. The exploratory research was based on interviews with 21 law enforcement agents in a large city. References