IT Grants (3502_13)

Request / Response

1.            The name and title of all IT projects in which the force is involved for which it has received a home office grant in excess of £100,000 since 01/01/2008
2.            The full amount of funding received. The total anticipated or actual cost of the programme.

DECISION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

Please find below our response. Please note that these data are taken from our accounts and are correct as at June 2013. No data on anticipated or actual costs for these projects were recorded.

Project name

Grant amount 2008/09

Grant amount 2009/10

PNC Nabis project

£924,275

Mobile Information

£483,116

£1,267,376

Any other information is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions

Section 24 (1) – National Security
Section 31 (1) (a) (b) – Law Enforcement

These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:

http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/foi/publication-scheme/lists-registers/disclosure-log/exemptions.asp

For Section 24 and Section 31 the legislation requires me to illustrate both the potential harm and to consider the public interest in release of such data.

Harm

Any disclosure under the FOI Act is a disclosure to the world at large, and therefore providing information that funding had been received for covert equipment would prejudice law enforcement. If the requested information was released into the public domain it would reveal the capabilities and resources available to West Midlands Police. This would be damaging as it would allow criminals/terrorists to gain a greater understanding of the police’s methods and techniques, enabling them to take steps to counter them.

There is wealth of evidence that criminals/terrorists will try to gain knowledge of law enforcement capabilities, techniques and procedures. Provision of the types of expenditure on technology would indicate the types of IT projects that West Midlands Police does – or does not – utilise. This information would allow offenders to be more effective in avoiding detection and/or prosecution by altering their behaviour to counter the law enforcement response. This would reduce the efficacy of any police activity.  Any compromise of, or reduction in, technical or operational capability would substantially prejudice the ability of forces to police their areas have a negative impact on both national security and law enforcement. This will adversely affect public safety and would lead to a greater risk to the public.

Factors favouring release of the information Section 24

Disclosing this information would provide greater transparency regarding the IT equipment employed by West Midlands Police. It is clear that there is a public interest in public authorities operating in as transparent a manner as possible, as this should ensure they operate effectively and efficiently.

Police officers need to be properly equipped in order to meet the demands placed upon them. This information could go some way towards reassuring the public that the police service is prepared and effective.

Factors against release for Section 24

Providing information on IT projects undertaken by WMP could render techniques less effective, undermining operational capability. This could lead to the compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infra-structure of the UK and subsequently increase the risk of harm to the public.

Factors favouring release of the information Section 31

As explained above, releasing the requested information would enhance transparency and provide reassurance that WMP is properly resourced and has the appropriate technology to enforce the law and protect the public.

Factors against release for Section 31

Providing information on capacity or capabilities would compromise law enforcement tactics and hinder the prevention or detection of crime. This would impact on police resources, and lead to more crime being committed and individuals placed at risk.

Balance Test

For a public interest test, issues that favour release need to be measured against issues that favour non-disclosure. The public interest is not what interests the public, or a particular individual, but what will be the greater good, if released, to the community as a whole.

I recognise that the public interest in being open and transparent is of great importance to all and release of information may assist in the public being more aware of the work that the police are carrying out and where public money is being spent. However, while there is a public interest in providing assurance that the police service is appropriately resourced to deal with crime (including the threat posed by terrorism), there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding operational capability, the integrity of investigations and the ability to maintain national security. The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information which could undermine national security, compromise law enforcement or endanger the public.

The threat from terrorism is serious and ongoing and the current threat level indicates that an attack is a strong possibility. Any such attack could cause large loss of life, injury and widespread disruption. As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity properly resourced, operational capability in matters of national security will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances.

Therefore it is my opinion that the balancing test for releasing the information is not made out. In this case, at this time, it would not be in the public interest to release this information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could endanger the public, compromise national security or undermine the future law enforcement role of the force.

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