1. The number of crimes and non-crimes with a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) marker, recorded during the 2013/14 financial year.
2. The number of crimes with a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) marker, recorded during the 2013/14 financial year that have an outcome of charge or summons.
1a. Count of Crimes with a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) marker recorded during the period 01 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 = 111
1b. Count of Non-Crimes with a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) marker recorded during the period 01 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 = 119
2. Count of Crimes with a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) marker, recorded during the period 01 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 that have an outcome of charge or summons = 24
In addition, West Midlands Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 23(5) Information Supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies
Section 30(3) Investigations (by virtue of Section 30(2))
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement (by virtue of Section 31(1))
Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case. Confirming or denying existence of information held would contravene the constrictions laid out with Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information applied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.
Section 30 is a class based qualified exemption. There is a requirement to consider the public interest to ensure neither confirming nor denying that information is held is appropriate.
Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption which means the evidence of harm ‘prejudice’ needs to be evidenced and the public interest considered to ensure neither confirming nor denying information is held is appropriate.
Harm in Confirming or Denying that Information is held (Section 31)
Any release under the Freedom of Information Act is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request. To confirm or not that information is held with regard to currently active investigations by West Midlands Police into offences of child sexual exploitation would be inappropriate as it would reveal actual policing activity.
In this case it is identified that the impact of confirming or denying information is held has potential to undermine on-going investigations. In addition, the partnership approach between national agencies and law enforcement agencies would also be compromised which would affect the effective delivery of operational law enforcement by all partnerships involved in an investigation.
If this request was received nationally, confirming or denying that information exists would reveal a national activity schedule for investigations into these types of offences and could lead to offenders destroying evidence to avoid apprehension and going ‘underground’ by moving to another area which they feel would be ‘safer’ to carry out their offending behaviour. This would ultimately place the safety of individuals at an increased risk.
Public Interest Considerations
Factors favour complying with Section 1(1)(a)
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. Confirming that information exists could promote public trust in providing transparency and demonstrating openness and accountability into where the police are currently focusing their investigations. It could also provide reassurance to the public that West Midlands Police conduct investigations appropriately. Confirmation may allow the public to have a better understanding of the effectiveness of the Police Service.
The issue of child sexual exploitation is a highly emotive subject area often attracting high profile media and public interest connotations. Confirmation or denial that information exists could provide reassurance to the general public.
Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a)
Modern-day policing is intelligence led and West Midlands Police share information with other law enforcement agencies as part of their investigative process. To confirm or not where investigations into offences described within the request are active, could hinder the prevention and detection of crime as well as undermine the partnership approach to investigations and law enforcement.
Should offenders take evasive action to avoid detection police resources may well be diverted from front-line duties and other areas of policing in order to locate and apprehend these individuals. In addition the safety of individuals and victims would be compromised.
Public safety and the ability to deliver effective law enforcement is of paramount importance. Confirmation or denial (by citing an exemption or stating no information held) would undoubtedly compromise both law enforcement and the health and safety of an individual. Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test against confirming whether information is or isn’t held is not made out.
No inference can be taken from this refusal that the information you have requested does or does not exist.
Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.
The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.
If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.