If Asked (509_15)

Request

I would like copies of all material drafted under your “if asked” guidelines in the last five years.
As in, statements prepared in case you were asked about a case/issue/incident by a media organisation. Often these are sent out to media via an email including the phrase “if asked”.

***SUBSEQUENT***

Thank you for your response. Can you advise me to what level I would need to reduce the time frame to come under the cost limit?

What about a search over the last year? Six months? A month? A week?

Response

Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide this information.

Please note that researching each individual case would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12 (1)).

Therefore, the cost of compliance with your request is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond, i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information would exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12 of the Freedom of information Act 2000. For West Midlands Police, the appropriate limit is set at £450, as prescribed by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, S.I. 3244.

A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is relying on a claim that section 12 or section 14 applies must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that fact. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a refusal notice.

Please view the following link to the ICO guidance relating to costs:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/85610/response/275577/attach/3/costs%20of%20compliance%20exceeds%20appropriate%20limit%201.pdf

Although you have tried to narrow your request to a more manageable level, it is difficult to see how that could be done.

Even if we could narrow the search down in this way, we would need to look at each statement that we were going to release into the public domain as a Freedom of Information (FOI) release, rather than a Press Briefing.  As a FOI release is into the public domain, rather than a release to the Press, different rules apply.  In particular, Corporate Communications is able to release personal information directly to the Press, which would likely be exempt under the terms of the Act.  This problem would be exacerbated by the passage of time, as court cases that were current twelve months ago would not be deemed as current now.

Therefore any narrowed-down request which would allow us to locate and extract the information within the appropriate limit, would likely cause a considerable amount of additional work both to  Corporate Communications  and the Freedom of Information Unit.

However, there is clearly an easier route to follow.  As a member of the Press you have access to the ‘if asked’ statements for any story that is of interest to you.  If you contact the Press Office and let them know the ‘story’ that interests you they can release the ‘if asked’ statement. This would allow you to access the information that is of interest to you, without the imposition of a disproportionate burden on either Corporate Communications or the FOI Unit.

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