Illegal Migrants (3056_15)

Request

If you have monthly but not weekly figures yet, please just send back what you have.

*How many suspected illegal migrants have you arrested in the last week (Weds 29/07/15 – Weds 05/08/15), compared to the same week last year (Weds 30/07/14 – Weds 06/08/14)?*

(We mean illegal migrants who are arrested under any of the arrestable offences under the Immigration Act)

*How many suspected illegal migrants have you arrested in the last month of July 2015, compared to the same month last year of July 2014 ?* ?*

(We mean illegal migrants who are arrested under any of the arrestable offences under the Immigration Act)

*Caveat: Are you arresting more suspected illegal migrants because you are going out to look for them more? Eg because you are running operations jointly with Border Force.

Response

Please find data attached.

West Midlands Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information relevant to this request, 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 24(2) National Security

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.  Confirming or denying the existence of whether information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.

Sections 24 and 31 are prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is a requirement to evidence the prejudice (harm) in confirming or denying information is held in this case.  In addition, there is a requirement to consider the public interest to ensure neither confirming nor denying that any other information is held is appropriate.

Overall Harm in Confirming or Denying that Information is held

Modern-day policing is intelligence led which is particularly pertinent with regard to the subject of immigration which is a topic of controversy amongst the public at present with political parties vowing to tighten immigration controls and a number of immigrants trying to enter the UK from France causing chaos in Calais.

As part of West Midlands Police Force’s responsibility to deliver effective operational law enforcement we liaise with outside agencies and share information ‘known as intelligence’ with other police forces and law enforcement agencies in an endeavour to assist with the prevention or detection of crime and the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice (APP) Intelligence Management Module is a national standard adhered to by all police forces across England and Wales.  There are four products which are the deliverables of intelligence led policing.  They are the result of collaboration between analysts, intelligence officers and policing units.  Each product has a defined purpose and provides recommendations for making decisions and options for action.  These four products are strategic assessment; tactical assessment; subject profile and problem profile.

The APP can be viewed at the below link:

http://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/intelligence-management/intelligence-products/#content-of-the-strategic-assessment

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.

In this case confirming or denying whether any other information is held would undermine the Authorised Professional Practice for Intelligence Management.

The prevention and detection of crime is the foundation upon which policing is built and the threat from terrorism cannot be ignored.  It is generally recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable.  The current UK threat level from international terrorism, based on intelligence, is assessed as of today’s date, 29th September 2015, as ‘Severe’ which means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, see below link:

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/the-threats/terrorism/threat-levels.html

In order to counter criminal and terrorist behaviour, it is vital that the police have the ability to work together, where necessary covertly, to obtain intelligence within current legislative frameworks to assist in the investigative process to ensure the successful arrest and prosecution of offences who commit or plan to commit acts of terrorism.

To achieve this goal, it is vitally important that information sharing takes place between police officers, members of the public, police forces as well as other security law enforcement bodies within the United Kingdom.  Such as action would support counter-terrorism measures in the fight to deprive terrorist networks of their ability to commit crime.

There is a lot of media reporting on this subject in the public domain relating to illegal migrants trying to enter the UK from countries such as Sudan, Syria, etc., see below links:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/migrant-snuck-country-walking-entire-6310439

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11506765/11-illegal-immigrants-from-Syria-caught-on-M20-in-Kent.html

These individuals are extremely vulnerable and will do anything in order to enter the UK, which may mean terrorist cells can take advantage and target these individuals.   To confirm or deny whether any other information is held would be extremely useful to those involved in terrorist activity.  The Police service has a duty of care to the community at large, its employees and also offenders.  Any disclosure, no matter how generic, which may assist a terrorist or terrorist organisation, will adversely affect public safety.  In this case it would enable a geographical map to be compiled highlighting vulnerable forces for could be targeted from a terrorist perspective.

Sadly there is evidence of such atrocities occurring within the United Kingdom, such as the 7/7/ attacks in London.

Public Interest Considerations

Section 24(2) National Security

Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that information is held

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and resources distributed within an area of policing, particularly with regard to trying to police the high number of illegal migrants trying to enter the UK.  To confirm whether information exists in this case would enable the general public to hold West Midlands Police to account where security measures may be required to combat terrorist activity.

In the current financial climate of cuts and with the calls for transparency of public spending this would enable improved public debate and would assist the public to take steps to protect themselves.

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming or denying that information is held

Security measures are put in place to protect the community that we serve.  As evidenced within the harm to confirm detail of whether or not a force has any other information relating to operations with other law enforcement agencies would enable a geographical map to be drawn up for the whole country.  This would reveal which forces are vulnerable.

Taking into account the current security climate within the United Kingdom, no information which may aid a terrorist should be disclosed.  To what extent this information may aid a terrorist is unknown, but it is clear that it will have an impact on a force’s ability to monitor terrorist activity.

Irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, the public entrust the Police service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection and the only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with what is placed into the public domain.

The cumulative effect of terrorists gathering information from various sources would be even more impactive when linked to information gathered from various sources about terrorism.  The more information disclosed over time will provide a more detailed account of the tactical infrastructure of not only a force area but also the country as a whole.

Any incident that results from such a disclosure would by default affect National Security.

Other organisations outside the Police Service are also widely engaged in targeting terrorism, see below links:

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/news-listings/362-nca-unveils-campaign-to-disrupt-the-use-of-airfields-and-light-aircraft-by-organised-criminals

https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/counter-terrorism

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/the-threats/terrorism.html

Therefore by confirming or denying that any other information exists relevant to this request would harm the close relationship that exists with such organisations, where trust and confidence in this specific area has been built up.

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) – confirming information is held

By confirming or denying whether any other operations are currently being undertaken by West Midlands Police would lead to better public awareness and would enhance informed debate which may lead to more information (intelligence) being submitted from the public which may culminate in a reduction of crime.

Factors favouring non compliance with Section 1(1)(a)

The Police Service will not confirm whether or not any other information is held relating to specific operations with other law enforcement agencies.  To do so would disclose information to the detriment of law enforcement as evidenced within the harm.

Balancing Test

The points above highlight the merits of confirming, nor denying, whether information pertinent to this request exists.  The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve.  As part of that policing purpose, various operations with other law enforcement bodies may or may not be ongoing.  The Police Service will never divulge whether or not information is held if to do so would place the safety of an individual(s) at risk or undermine National Security.  Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and investigations, providing assurance that the Police Service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from criminals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations.  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.

In addition any disclosure by West Midlands Police that places the security of the country at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in us.  Therefore at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information exists.

No inference can be drawn from this refusal that information is or isn’t held.

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