Body Cams (5275_14)

Request

The number of body cams in force, the date the force started using them and the force policy

The number of complaints received by our Professional Standards Unit based on a search of the word ‘body cam’ and the nature and outcome of the complaint.

Response

The number of body cams in force, the date the force started using them and the force policy

 

This information is provided on the following website

 

http://www.westmidlandspcc.gov.uk/media/235958/10_spcb_01_oct_2013_cctv_anpr_surveillance.pdf

 

The force has been trialling them since September 2013

 

The number of complaints received by our Professional Standards Unit based on a search of the word ‘body cam’ and the nature and outcome of the complaint.

 

= 1 complaint has been received that mentions the word ‘body cam’

 

In this case any further information about this complaint is exempt by virtue of the following exemption

 

Section 30 (1) (a) (b) Investigations

 

This exemptions 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. Please find this PIT below

 

Harm

 

The Freedom of Information Act makes it a legal requirement that an authority has to not only provide information, unless it is exempt, but to also confirm whether or not that information is held unless to do so would in itself provide exempt information.

 

In this case, while I can confirm that information is held, Section 30 (1) (2) of the Freedom of Information Act prevents it from being released. The release of information provided to authorities in confidence, may affect the public’s perception of the investigative process and make people more reluctant to make a complaint in the future. Therefore to allow a situation to occur whereby the details provided during reporting of an incident are routinely disclosed would likely to prejudice the ability of the public authority to carry out investigations.

 

Considerations Favouring Disclosure

 

Disclosing information about complaints involving body cams would provide greater transparency about what type of incidents are reported to the West Midlands Police where a body cam is a factor. Disclosing information about investigations would provide a greater transparency in the investigating process and the actions of a public authority. It is clear that there is a public interest in public authorities operating in as transparent a manner as possible, as this should ensure they operate effectively and efficiently.

 

Considerations Favouring Non-Disclosure

 

The release of information provided to authorities in confidence, may affect the public’s perception of the investigative process and make people more reluctant make a complaint in the future. This would impact on the level of service the police are able to provide to the local community and likely to prejudice the ability of the public authority to carry out investigations in to that complaint

 

Conclusion

 

For a public interest test, issues that favour release 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.

 

I recognise that the public interest in being open and transparent is of great importance to all and release of information may assist in the public being more aware of the work that the police are carrying out. However, while the public interest considerations favouring confirmation or denial are noted, this must be balanced with the impact any response would have on the operational capability of the police.

 

Therefore it is my view protecting the ability of West Midlands Police to carry out investigations is greater importance than the advantage of public confidence from the disclosure of this information.

 

At this time, it would not be in the public interest to release this information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could harm the public or that could compromise the future law enforcement role of the police.

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