Blue Lights (296_15)

Request

Can you provide me with a List of all the vehicles that are fitted with Blue lights that WMP use, Including the following info:

1. Where they are based
2. Their Role (EG: Traffic)
3. Their Make & Model (EG: BMW 330d xDrive)
4. Their Callsign/ roof ID
5. Numberplate

I will be using this because I photograph West Midlands Police vehicles and would love to know the information about them etc

Response

I can confirm that West Midlands Police holds the requested information. However while some of this information is attached (296_attachment_01.pdf) I am withholding the remainder of the information, since I consider that the exemption outlined below applies to it.

REASONS FOR DECISION

The Freedom of Information Act places two responsibilities on public authorities, the first of which is to confirm what information it holds and secondly to then disclose that information, unless exemptions apply.

In this case the information is exempt by virtue of the following exemption:

Section 31 (1) (a) (b) (c) (Law Enforcement)

This exemption and explanatory notes are shown here:

http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/docs/advice-centre/foi/exemptions.pdf

In line with the above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test (PIT) on disclosure.

Harm

Certain vehicles may be used in covert roles, disclosing the details of these vehicles would mean that they could then be identified. This would compromise the effectiveness of covert operations by alerting individuals involved in criminal activity that there is a police presence, allowing them to take steps to avoid detection.

Factors Favouring Disclosure

Where public funds are being used by West Midlands Police, the public have an interest in knowing what it is being used for. Disclosure of this information would inform the public of precisely which vehicles their money is being spent on, so that they can be satisfied that it is being used efficiently.

Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure

Disclosing details of vehicles used in a covert role would allow for the identification of those vehicles by individuals involved in criminal activities. This would be invaluable information to them, as they could change their behaviour to evade detection or destroy evidence if they suspect that they are being observed. This would compromise the tactical effectiveness of using covert vehicles and hinder the prevention or detection of crime.

BALANCE TEST

For a public interest test, issues that favour disclosure need to be measured against issues that favour non-disclosure. The public interest is not what interests the public, or a particular individual, but what will be the greater good, if released, to the community as a whole.

In considering the public interest in relation to this request, I must balance the factor in relation to transparency and accountability, against the public interest in ensuring that West Midlands Police are able to appropriately enforce the law.

Releasing specific details of certain vehicles used in ‘undercover’ roles would allow criminals to be able to identify these vehicles, thus undermining covert operations and compromising law enforcement tactics, meaning that the police service is less effective.

West Midlands Police has a duty to deliver effective law enforcement, ensuring the prevention and detection of crime, and the apprehension of offenders.

Therefore it is my opinion that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that would compromise the future law enforcement role of the force.

Attachments

296_ATTACHMENT_01

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