Exploring the Motivation of the United Kingdom’s Domestic Extremist Informants

Ian Stanier*, Jordan Nunan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Understanding a potential informant’s motivation can lay the foundation for managing the risks and opportunities associated with the informant-handler relationship and operational deployments. The present research explored the self-disclosed and handler-assessed motivations of U.K. informants authorized to report against domestic extremists. Informants reported being motivated overwhelmingly by both ideological and financial considerations. Those reporting on right-wing domestic extremism primarily reported for financial reasons, while those reporting on left-wing extremism did so primarily for ideological reasons. The findings also revealed that motivation is neither one dimensional nor unchangeable, with most informants declaring financial and ideological reasons for informing. Handlers were accurate at identifying informants’ primary motivation, with a minority of the handler assessments revealing a perceived change after a six-month period. By designing recruitment approaches around ideological and financial motivational hooks, law enforcement and intelligence agencies may increase the probability of recruitment success, as well as enhance both the effectiveness and longevity of their informant-handler relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism on 9 Apr 2023, available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2023.2195064.


  • Covert Human Intelligence Source
  • Informant
  • Motivation
  • Intelligence
  • Domestic Extremism
  • Counter-Terrorism


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