Please email me a copy of the police report from West Brom v Manchester United, played at the Hawthorns in the Premier League on Saturday December 17, 2016.
I can confirm that this 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 a redacted document (2424_attachment_01). This email serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) for the part of the document that has 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 email represents a Refusal Notice for the redacted part of the attached document. The information is exempt by virtue of the following:
Section 31(1)(a) (Law Enforcement)
Section 38(1)(b) (Health & Safety)
These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:
In line with the above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test on disclosure.
This request asks for information regarding the post-match report for a specific football fixture, which includes details of locations where supporters may frequent prior to and after a match. If West Midlands Police disclosed such information, it could highlight a specific location as being the regular centre for football supporters, which may lead to problems of disorder.
Public Safety is of paramount importance and the Police Service will not disclose information which may lead to disorder and thereby jeopardise the prevention of crime and/or safety of individuals under any circumstances.
Section 31 – Factors favouring disclosure:
It is important that police forces are open and transparent so as to gain and maintain the trust of the public, which in turn aids cooperation and assists law enforcement.
West Midlands Police is dedicated to openness and transparency and release of this information could go some way to reinforcing this commitment to the public.
Section 31 – Factors favouring non-disclosure:
The public interest will favour non-disclosure when the current or future law enforcement role of the force may be compromised by the release of information. Disclosing specific meeting venue information into the public domain, could encourage more fans (from both teams) to attend the location, which in turn could increase the risk of disorder.
This could make people and property at the location, or within its surrounding area, more vulnerable to crime and divert police resources away from other areas; thereby compromising the law enforcement role of West Midlands Police.
Section 38 – Factors favouring disclosure:
This information could assist the public in gaining an understanding of where groups of fans are gathering before and/or after matches. This would therefore help them gain awareness regarding personal safety issues.
Section 38 – Factors favouring non-disclosure:
There may be occasions where the release of information relating to public safety may not be in the public interest. Public Safety is of paramount importance to the police service and its partner agencies. The potential harm in not being able to manage events properly and crime being committed or innocent people being targeted is of grave concern and, while wishing to embrace the ethos of information disclosure, this cannot take precedence over public safety.
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve.
In considering the public interest in relation to this request, I have balanced the factors with regard to transparency and public awareness, against the public interest in ensuring that West Midlands Police are able to appropriately enforce the law and protect the public.
For a public interest test, issues that favour release need to be measured against issues that favour non-release. 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.
However, while the public interest considerations favouring release are noted, this must be balanced with the impact any release would have on the law enforcement capability of the police and the safety of individuals. Releasing details of specific locations of pre or post-match meeting locations; could have the impact of increasing the risk of disorder, thereby compromising law enforcement and endangering the safety of the public.
West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could compromise the future law enforcement role of the force, or cause harm to the public.
It is therefore my opinion that for these reasons, the balancing test for disclosing the redacted information is not made out.