Tip or Reward? Incentivizing the information flow on organized crime

Dr Adam Masters1

1The Australian National University

This paper provides an overview of how tips and rewards are used by Australian police to combat serious and organised crime. Originally drafted as a comparative report for the Dutch Parliament in mid 2021, the purpose of this study is to explore what is known about the influence of tip and reward money on the willingness of citizens – including criminals – to provide information to the police. The research focuses on tips about “organized and serious crimes”, in particular violent crimes, drug crimes, money laundering and corruption. Crimes that by their nature affect existing social structures and ultimately the rule of law. The paper maps the development of rewards from the colonial era to the recent “Lawyer X” Royal Commission in Victoria. It then focuses on the use of police informants and the systemic flaws exposed in New South Wales and Queensland as well as apparent successes at the Federal level. The research points to a continued use of rewards into the future, however with greater oversight on police.


Dr Adam Masters lectures on corruption and organized crime at the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods. His teaching is based on his research in both fields, and he has also published on political rhetoric and the influence of organizational and professional culture on organizations, including Interpol. Before obtaining his PhD, Dr Masters 24-year public sector career included 18 years with the Australian Federal Police, which followed time with the Australian Taxation Office and Department of Defence.


Dec 09 2021