Please tell me when a person / caller dials 999 police Emergency Call using a mobile phone, it goes to a central emergency phone call centre and then the mobile phone number is announced whilst the call is transferred to the geographically closest police Force Control Room. At the Force Control Room do the Call Handlers have a tracking system which tells them who the mobile phone number is registered to and their address? Approximately how much time does it take for Call Handler to source this information?
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 West Midlands Police will neither confirm nor deny the existence of any relevant data by virtue of:
Section 24(2) – National Security
Section 31 (3) – Law Enforcement
These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:
Sections 24, and 31 are prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not that the information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.
Every effort should be made to release information under FOI. However, to provide the requested data could reveal policing techniques.
Disclosure of this information would potentially make it possible for members of the public to gain an advantage over the force’s ability to carry out law enforcement.
In considering whether or not this information should be disclosed, consideration has been given to the potential harm that could be caused by disclosure.
The police service’s primary responsibility is law enforcement, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. Modern day policing is intelligence led and there are daily changes. Disclosure of this information may cause a risk to West Midlands Police as well as potentially place officer’s safety and that of the general public at risk by affecting our ability to carry out law enforcement.
Disclosure of this information could be invaluable to members of the criminal fraternity. This information could be invaluable to those individuals intent on criminal activity as they could create a distraction in one area of the force, leaving another area vulnerable to criminal exploitation. This would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
Factors favouring disclosure for S24
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and providing information relevant to the question could lead to a better-informed public that can take steps to protect themselves
Factors against disclosure for S24
Providing detailed information on security measures would make them less effective. This may have an adverse impact on crime reporting, suspecting that a force can immediately determine whether or not this is possible could influence whether individuals call police in an emergency. This could increase the risk of harm to the public.
Factors favouring disclosure for S31
Providing the information would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.
Factors against disclosure for S31
Disclosure of the information requested could identify intelligence required for the investigation of a crime within the force area. This would allow individuals access to information and identify the focus of police activity, enabling those committing crime to move their operations. This would hinder the prevention and detection of crime and consequently, the force’s law enforcement capabilities would be affected and individuals placed at risk.
This information could actually be of use to a criminal. If a criminal wanted to tie up officers in order to commit a crime elsewhere, he would know how the force grade calls in order to get as many officers as possible to attend, whether a search is completed on the mobile phone on a local database and know whether if a call is made can the location be triangulated and tracked to a specific location. This would be extremely useful data in understanding the police services response to 999 calls.
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so could undermine National Security or compromise law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this area.
As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of national security this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances. Therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for providing information relevant to your request exists is not made out.