Northumbria’s chief constable has firmly rejected claims that paying a child rapist to help secure convictions of sexual exploitation may have placed some victims at greater risk.
Steve Ashman said the man’s information led to the conviction of 17 men and a woman for abusing girls in Newcastle.
The informant was paid £10,000, and headlines have focused on criticism of that, rather than on the case.
The paedophile had himself served a prison sentence for rape.
The last of four trials, spread across two years, ended on Wednesday and in total 18 people, mostly of Asian backgrounds, were convicted of sexual exploitation and drugs offences.
Most of them were men from Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Indian backgrounds.
The court heard how vulnerable girls and women were abused at parties or “sessions” in Newcastle.
Northumbria Police asked a previously convicted child rapist if he could get them more information about the parties.
The NSPCC said that using him in this way was a decision that “crossed the line”.
Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said: “Personally, I can’t envisage circumstances where I would have authorised payment to someone convicted of rape.
“I can’t imagine how you could have control mechanisms in place with an informant of that type that you were going to task that would give reassurance that they still didn’t represent a risk to young and vulnerable women.”
But Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Steve Ashman rejected suggestions that the informant was encouraged to go to the parties in order to report back to them.
In fact, Mr Ashman said the informant was specifically told he would be arrested if he attended the parties himself.
He said: “In this specific instance, we used an informant in very controlled circumstances.
“The recruitment and registering of any informant is carefully risk assessed against what are the potential gains we can get from using that individual.”
The defendants were convicted of abusing girls who were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to have sex.
A court heard that the vulnerable victims, some as young as 14, were exploited by a “cynical organisation”.
Over the course of the four trials, 20 young women gave evidence covering a period from 2011 to 2014.
The 18 defendants and their convictions
- Mohammed Azram, 35 of Croydon Road, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, sexual assault, supplying drugs to a victim
- Jahanghir Zaman, 43 of Hadrian Road, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, rape, supplying drugs to a victim
- Nashir Uddin, 35 of Joan Street, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, supplying drugs to a victim
- Saiful Islam, 34 of Strathmore Crescent, convicted of rape. Jailed for 10 years
- Mohammed Hassan Ali, 33 of Bentinck Street, convicted of sexual activity with a child, supplying drugs to a victim. Jailed for seven years
- Yasser Hussain, 27 of Canning Street, convicted of beating, possession of drugs. Jailed for two years
- Abdul Sabe, 40 of Dean House, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation, drugs offences
- Habibur Rahim, 34 of Kenilworth Road, convicted of causing or inciting prostitution, drugs, sexual assault, trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation
- Badrul Hussain, 37 of Drybeck Court, convicted of drug offences
- Mohibur Rahman, 44 of Northcote Street, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to incite prostitution, supplying drugs to a victim
- Abdulhamid Minoyee, 33 of Gainsborough Grove, convicted of rape, sexual assault, supply of drugs
- Carolann Gallon, 22 of Hareside Court, pleaded guilty to three counts of trafficking
- Monjour Choudhury, 33 of Phillip Place, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, supplying drugs to a victim
- Prabhat Nelli, 33 of Sidney Grove, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, supplying drugs to a victim
- Eisa Mousavi, 41 of Todds Nook, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, rape, supplying drugs to a victim
- Taherul Alam, 32 of Normanton Terrace, convicted of conspiracy to incite prostitution, supplying drugs to a victim, attempted sexual assault
- Nadeem Aslam, 43 of Belle Grove West, convicted of supplying drugs to victims
- Redwan Siddquee, 32 of West Road, pleaded guilty to causing or inciting prostitution, supply or offering to supply a class B
The police investigation, Operation Sanctuary, is continuing.
There have been about 100 convictions so far.