FGM (4148)

Request / Response

1. How many investigations have you carried out on people suspected of performing FGM in the UK since it was made illegal in 2003?
=1

2. How many investigations have you carried out on people suspected of facilitating FGM in the UK since it was made illegal in 2003?
=1

3. How many charges have been made since 2003 and can we have dates and details of each charge?
Nil

4. Are you currently investigating anyone of carrying out FGM in the UK? And if so can you specify the details?

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities.  Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at S1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held.  The second duty at s1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held.  Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of the FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact, b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) state (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

West Midlands Police neither confirms nor denies that it holds any information for questions 4&5, or with regard to any other information relating to this request that may or may not be held by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 40(5) Personal information
Section 30(3) Investigations;
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Section 38(2) Health and Safety
Section 40 subsections (1) and (2) is a class based absolute exemption, however Section 40(5) is not, as it is not listed in the schedule of absolute exemptions in Section 2(2).  When citing Section 40(5), there is a requirement to articulate the public interest to the applicant.  This is to ensure that neither confirming nor denying that other information exists is the appropriate response.
Section 30 is a class based qualified exemption and consideration of the public interest must be given as to whether neither confirming nor denying that any other information exists is the appropriate response.
With Sections 31 and 38 being prejudice based and qualified exemptions there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not whether any other information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.

Harm in complying with Section 1(1)(a) – to confirm or not whether information is held
The code of Practice on the Management of Police Information, as recommended by the Bichard Inquiry and associated guidance, sets national standards for the management of police information, including intelligence material, its physical security and the security of sensitive material, such as personal information.  They are the authority on all questions of integrity of intelligence material and must be included as part of the operational protocols of the National Intelligence Model.
The National Intelligence Model is adhered to by all police forces across England and Wales.  It is a business process with an intention to provide focus to operational policing and to achieve a disproportionately greater impact from the resources applied to any problem.  It is dependent on a clear framework of analysis of information and intelligence allowing a problem solving approach to law enforcement and crime prevention techniques.
The impact of confirming or denying whether any information is held with regard to questions 4&5 of this request, as well as with regard to any other information that may or may not be held, which relates to female genital mutilation offences, has the potential to undermine the flow of information (intelligence) received from members of the public into the Police Service and undermining both ongoing investigations and the Management of Police Information guidance.  This could in turn lead to police officers having to be removed from their frontline duties in order to increase manpower on an investigation.
Disclosing information which details whether or not WMP is currently investigating suspected offences of FGM or facilitating FGM, no matter how generic, becomes more meaningful if there is a risk of a person or persons being identified.  While this is unlikely to happen amongst the general population, those involved in carrying out FGM offences, are often known to the victims, and on occasions are family members themselves, and these individuals may be able to draw a significant conclusion from any generic information disclosed.  Such an action could lead to the informants being identified or even misidentified and the heath and safety of those individuals placed at risk.

Public Interest Considerations
Section 40(5) Personal Information
The duty to neither confirm or deny under this Section of the Act arises where the disclosure of the information into the public domain would contravene any of the data protection principles of Section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 or would do so if the exemptions in Section 33A(a) of that Act were disregarded.
Irrespective of what other information WMP may or may not hold, any request which has potential to identify a third party, by citing an exemption, would attract a neither confirm nor deny response by virtue of Section 40(5) as it constitutes personal data of an individual other than the applicant and disclosure would contravene the first data protection principle which states in part that personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully.
Section 30(3) Investigations
Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) – confirming information is held
Confirming or denying that any information exists relevant to questions 4&5 and irrespective of what other information may or may not be held, would lead to a better informed public that WMP robustly investigate offences of female genital mutilation which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to assist investigations and reduce crime.  Confirmation or denial would highlight where police resources are being targeted and the public are entitled to know how public funds are spent, particularly in the current economic climate.
Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) – neither confirming nor denying that information is held
Confirmation or denial that information exists would suggest that WMP does not take their responsibility to appropriately handle and manage information provided by individuals to assist with criminal investigations flippantly and dismissively resulting in the force’s future law enforcement capabilities being affected.

Section 31 Law Enforcement
Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) – confirming information is held
There is a vast amount of information within the public domain relating to this subject, examples of these can be found below:

www.who.int/topics/female_genital_mutilation/en/
www.childinfo.org/fgmc.html

www.west-midlands.police.uk/advice-centre/help-and-advice/honour-abuse/female-genital-mutilation/index.aspx
However, irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, confirmation that information exists relevant to FGM offences and investigations as requested within questions 4&5, would lead to a better informed public which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence relating to offences which could assist the investigative process.

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) – neither confirming nor denying that information is held
Confirmation or denial that any other information is held in this case would suggest that WMP does not take their responsibility to protect the safety of individuals seriously.  It could also adversely affect public safety if offenders are provided with detail as to whether a victim has reported an offence of FGM to the police.
The Police Service relies on information being supplied by the public.  Confirming or denying that information is held for these questions would act as a deterrent to the public to provide information (intelligence) to the force which would undermine public safety.

Section 38 Health and Safety
Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) – confirming information is held
Confirming or not that information is held for questions 4&5, and irrespective of what other information may or may not be held, would provide reassurance to the general public that information provided to WMP is dealt with appropriately and investigations undertaken to target offenders who carry out FGM offences.  This awareness could be used to improve any public consultations/debates in relation to this subject.

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) – neither confirming nor denying that information is held
Confirmation or denial that information is held could lead to the loss of public confidence in WMP’s ability to protect the wellbeing of the community.
Irrespective of whether other information is or isn’t held, intelligence is used as a vital tool in ensuing all avenues and enquiries are carried out and exhausted with relates to reported offences.  The safety and anonymity of members of the general public who provide this information is of paramount importance and any disclosure which could place the safety of those individuals at increased risk is not in the public interest.
Confirmation that any other information is held pertinent to this request, could lead to those individuals being targeted and physical harm caused to them by the offenders.  In addition, information that causes speculation, e.g. misidentification of informant, has in the past caused innocent people to be targeted.

Balancing Test
The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying that any other information pertinent to this request exists.  The Police Service relies heavily on the public providing information to assist in criminal investigations and has a duty to protect and defend vulnerable individuals.  The public has an expectation that any information they provide will be treated with confidence.  Anything which places that confidence at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the Police Service.
In addition, the effective delivery of operational law enforcement is of paramount importance to WMP in their duty to ensure the prevention and detection of crime is carried out and the effective apprehension or prosecution of offenders is maintained.
Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for confirmation or denial that information is held is not made out.
No inference can be taken from this refusal that any other information does or does not exist.

5. Are you currently investigating anyone of facilitating FGM in the UK and if so can you specify any details?
As above
6. Have many investigations have you carried out on people who are suspected of taking girls abroad to have it done since 2003?
=12
7. Have you charged anyone accused of taking a female out of the UK illegally to have FGM abroad since 2003?
No
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.

Your attention is drawn to your right to request a re-examination of your case under West Midlands Police review procedure, which can be found at:

www.west-midlands.police.uk/advice-centre/accessing-information/freedom-of-information/review-and-appeals/index.aspx

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