We would like to request under the Freedom of Information Act the following information from your force:
The performance indicators of your Counter Terror Security Advisors (CTSAs) within your force area.
a.) number of critical vulnerable sites identified and assessed
b.) number of protective security plans devised and developed
c.) types of awareness promotion
NaCTSO and CTSAs have been delegated responsibility by the Home Office for dealing with protective security for ‘Crowded Places’. This could mean areas like shopping centres, sporting stadia, pubs and bars or transport hubs.
We need this data over three timeframes:
a.) 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014
b.) 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2015
c.) 1 January 2016 to 31 September 2016
If it is impossible to respond to the entire request on cost grounds then please provide data for the most recent year only (1 September 2015 to 31 September 2016).
With regard to question c) West Midlands Police follow the guidance of NaCTSO, this information is readily available on the NaCTSO website
West Midlands Police will neither confirm nor deny that we hold any of the requested information. This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).
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 West Midlands Police will neither confirm nor deny the existence of any relevant data for questions a) and b) by virtue of
Section S24 (2) National Security
S31(3) Law Enforcement
These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:
In line with the above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test (PIT) on disclosure. Please find this PIT attached
Evidence of harm
The threat of terrorism cannot be ignored. It should be recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable. The UK faces a sustained threat from violent terrorists and extremists. Since 2006 the UK Government have published the threat level based upon current intelligence and that threat level has remained at the second highest level ‘severe’, except for two short periods during August 2006 and June and July 2007, when it was raised to the highest threat ‘critical’ and July 2009, when it was reduced to ‘substantial’. The current threat level to the UK is ‘severe’.
The disclosure of the requested information would undermine individual forces policing capabilities which consequently would be detrimental to their ability to deal with the on-going terrorist threat we face. The disclosure of the number of critical sites identified by individual force CTSAs, along with the number of protective security plans devised, would allow comparison between forces across the country and enable terrorists to build a picture of what resources are in place and where they are deployed. It is felt that the disclosure of this information would prejudice the effectiveness of the national counter terrorism effort and would allow inferences to be drawn about force level counter-terrorism activity and identify vulnerability around the country.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by confirming or denying that this information is held would allow the public to see where money is being spent and know that forces are doing as much as they can to combat terrorism.
Factors favouring neither confirming or denying for S24
The disclosure whether this information is or is not held would render security measures less effective which would compromise ongoing or future operations to protect the security and infrastructure of the UK. The risk of harm to the public would be elevated, if areas of the UK which appear vulnerable were identified which would also provide the opportunity for terrorist planning. Ongoing or future operations to protect the security and infrastructure of the UK would be compromised as terrorists could map the level of counter-terrorist activity across the country, providing them with the knowledge of individual force capability.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31
To confirm or deny that this information is held would make members of the public more aware of the threat of terrorism and allow them to take steps to protect themselves and families. Improved public awareness may lead to more intelligence being submitted to police about possible acts of terrorism as members of the public will be more observant to suspicious activity which in turn may result in a reduction of crime
Factors favouring neither confirming or denying of S31
To confirm or deny that the requested information is held would compromise law enforcement tactics which would hinder the Police force’s ability to prevent and detect terrorist crimes. The threat of terrorism will increase as more crimes are committed as a result of terrorists gaining knowledge about the capabilities of individual forces and therefore the public will be placed at a greater risk. A fear of crime will be realised as terrorists identify vulnerable areas and target and exploit these areas resulting in the public being in fear of more terrorist activity occurring. When a fear of crime is realised, the public may decide to take matters into their own hands, leading to victimisation, discrimination and ultimately other crime to occur. There would be an impact on police resources, as forces may need to increase their resources to reassure and protect the surrounding community.
The security of the country is of paramount importance. The police will not divulge any information that would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine national security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing, and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by terrorist activity, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in the highly sensitive subject of terrorism.
As much as there is a public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of national security this will be overridden in exceptional circumstances. Police force’s capabilities of combating terrorism are sensitive issues of intelligence value to the terrorist and therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying that this information is held, not made out.
However, this should not be taken as necessarily indicating that any information that would meet your request is or is not held.