[h2]Drug dealers are being paid by a London council to answer questions about their illegal trade. [/h2]
Lambeth council faced outrage yesterday after it emerged it paid dealers and addicts around £20 each from public funds to fill in a research questionnaire.
One rank and file police leader warned such a policy could be participating in crime.
Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "If the council pay for information which leads to people being arrested and convicted, I would have no problem with that.
"If, on the other hand, they paid just to adopt their policies, they are condoning -- if not actually participating in -- criminal offences."
Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Tax Payers' Alliance, said: "It is disgusting that local taxpayers have had their money paid into the pockets of organised criminals.
"The council should be trying to get these people off the streets – not giving them taxpayers' cash for canvassing their opinions."
Around 40 dealers received payment from Lambeth Council in south London for agreeing to be interviewed about the drugs trade in Brixton.
It is the same borough where police once took a liberal stance on cannabis prior to its downgrading.
Officials at the council said offering money in such circumstances was a standard research practice – and that policies brought in as a result have curbed the problem.
It was revealed five months ago that drug dealers in Lambeth earn around £18,800 a year - about twice the minimum wage.
Researchers discovered that as well as street dealing, a delivery service was run from estates near Brixton town centre, using local children as runners.
The research project concluded that more money should be provided for youth outreach workers but instead the Labour-run council launched a "name-and-shame" campaign.
It was decided to collect the names of prolific offenders banned from Brixton after receiving ASBOs and publish details on a website.
But since the campaign was launched in June of last year, only three individuals have been shamed in this way.
A council spokeswoman said : "This was a complex issue and we needed detailed intelligence to tackle it, which is why we interviewed dealers as part of our research.
"In line with good research practice, a small payment was offered so that people would take part.
"As a direct result of this research, we have been in a better position to tackle the drugs market and 15 per cent fewer residents now perceive drug crime to be a problem."
Councillor Mark Bennett, Lambeth Council's cabinet member for community safety, rejected claims the "name-and-shame" campaign had failed.
He said: "Our drugs deterrence policy has done exactly what it intended – deter drug dealers from our streets.
"It is just one part of our tough approach."
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Source - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/new...lers-paid-by-council-to-answer-questions.html