M6 Closure Documents (7680_17)

Request

Timeline of CMPG Twitter activity (commissioned by Supt Keasey and prepared by PC Gregg Woodward)

Timeline of Highways England Tweets (commissioned by Supt Keasey and prepared by PC Gregg Woodward)

Report from the Strategic Police & Crime Board on the first hearing held 18/3/16

M6 Hearing Recommendations

CMPG submission to hearing on 20/12/16 (short briefing note)

CMPG Submission to hearing on 20/12/16 (full paper)

OPCC full report M6 follow up hearing held on 20/12/16

The Command and Control log for this incident

 

Response

We can confirm that some relevant information is held by West Midlands Police. However, while the majority of the information is attached to this email I am afraid that I am not required by statute to release all of the information requested. Please find attached This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) for the parts of the document that have not been released.

 

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, this letter represents a Refusal Notice for the redacted parts of the attached documents. The information is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions

 

Section 30 (1) Investigations

Section 31 (1) Law enforcement

Section 40(2) Personal Data

 

This exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:

 

https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/information-management/freedom-of-information/#freedom-of-information-exemptions

 

Section 40(2) is an absolute and class based exemption if to release the information exists would breach the third party’s data protection rights.  In this case to release this personal information would not constitute fair processing of the data and therefore would breach the first of the principles within the Data Protection Act 1998. As this exemption is class based I am not required to identify the harm in disclosure and in this instance I believe that the right to privacy outweighs any public interest in release

 

In line with the above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test (PIT) on disclosure.

 

Harm

Disclosure of this information would potentially make it possible for members of the public to gain an advantage over the force’s ability to carry out law enforcement. The police service’s primary responsibility is law enforcement, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. Modern day policing is intelligence led and there are daily changes. Disclosure of this information in respect of a specific incident log may affect the forces ability to carry out law enforcement.

Releasing information relating to a specific incident would interfere with the investigation as it would allow individuals to analyse the evidence held and identify the focus of the police investigation. This would enable the offenders involved to gauge the level of police knowledge, what the police lines of enquiry are and would provide an insight into the investigation. This would hinder future Investigations and any further court cases.

Release of information through the Freedom of Information Act removes any of the legal strictures and assumptions of confidentiality associated with the due legal process. As a consequence, any ongoing or subsequent court proceedings could be jeopardised where release of information regarding an individual was identified.

It would be distressing for the witnesses to have their detailed statements and private details placed into the public domain. Any person who reported the incident, or gave statements regarding it, would expect that information provided by them will only be used for appropriate purposes – that is the investigation of the facts and circumstances of the incident

Section 30 (1) Considerations that favour disclosure

Disclosing information about investigations would provide a greater transparency in the investigating process and the actions of a public authority. 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.

Section 31 (1) Considerations that favour disclosure

The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve and there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations, including investigations. Disclosure would increase accountability by providing the public with an understanding that public funds are being used appropriately and that investigations are conducted properly.

Section 30 (1) Considerations that favour non-disclosure

There is an inherently strong public interest in public authorities carrying out investigations to prevent and detect crime. This ensures that offenders are brought to justice and that the necessary checks and balances are in place to safeguard public funds and resources. To allow the effectiveness of investigations to be reduced, as described in the harm above, is not in the public interest. The Police Service needs to be allowed to carry out investigations effectively away from public scrutiny until such times as the details need to be made public, otherwise it will be difficult for accurate, thorough and objective investigations to be carried out.

Section 31 (1) Considerations that favour non-disclosure

The public must be confident that West Midlands Police are committed to ensuring that information provided by them will only be used for appropriate purposes. Where current or future law enforcement role of the force may be compromised by the release of information, then this is unlikely to be in the interest of the public.  In this case, for the reasons outlined above releasing details of these crimes could jeopardise future investigations.

It would not be in the public interest to release information that may interfere with court proceedings or prevent an individual from being brought to justice. The right to a fair trial is of paramount importance and any disclosure which could enhance media attention prior to any proceedings could compromise an individual’s right to a fair trial under the Human Rights Act.

Balancing Test

For a public interest test, issues that favour disclosure 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. However, while the public interest considerations favouring disclosure are noted, this must be balanced with the impact any release would have on individuals’ privacy and future law enforcement activities.

Having considered the arguments for and against disclosure, it is my view that the public interest test favours withholding the exempt information.

At this time, it would not be in the public interest to release this information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could reveal personal information or could compromise investigations or the future law enforcement role of the force.

Attachments

0004_7680_attachment_4 0005_7680_attachment_5 0006_7680_attachment_6 0007_7680_attachment_7 0008_7680_attachment_8 0009_7680_attachment_9 0001_7680_attachment_1 0002_7680_attachment_2 0003_7680_attachment_3

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