Notification Requirements (435_15)

Request

  1. How many individuals have been made subject to notification requirements to your force under Part 4 of the Terrorism Act 2008? Please give a breakdown indicating which month/year they became subject to these notification requirements since 1/10/09.
  1. How many breaches/infringements has your force recorded of these notification requirements under Part 4 of the Terrorism Act 2008 since 1/10/09? Please give a breakdown including:
  1. a) The month/year of the breach / infringement
  1. b) A summary of the nature / circumstances of the breach / infringement
  1. c) The action taken as a result e.g. arrest, prosecution, fine or imprisonment

Please indicate any breaches / infringements which involved the same individual.

Response

DECISION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

We can confirm that relevant information is held by West Midlands Police. However, we are withholding that information since we consider that the exemption(s) outlined below apply to it.

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 the information is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions:

  • Section 24(1) (National security)
  • Section 30(1)(a)(b) (Law Enforcement)

These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:

http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/docs/advice-centre/foi/exemptions.pdf

Overall harm for Section 31 and Section 24

The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored.  It should be recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable.  The UK faces a sustained threat from violent terrorists and extremists.  Since 2006, the UK Government have published the threat level, based upon current intelligence and that threat has remained at the second highest level, ‘severe’, except for two short periods during August 2006 and June and July 2007, when it was raised to the highest threat, ‘critical’, and in July 2009, when it was reduced to ‘substantial’. The current threat level to the UK is ‘severe’.

The disclosure of the requested information would undermine the individual force CT units which would consequently be detrimental to our ability to be able to deal with the on-going terrorist threat we face.  Identifying subjects that are in breach of a Part 4 order that have been arrested and gone through the judicial process will identify CT hotpots and indicate where resources are based  or operate.

Identifying subjects that may be or are in breach of a Part 4 order, these may be subjects of a live investigation as a result of intelligence which cannot be disclosed for operational reasons

It is important to remember that Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 is an “Act to confer further powers to gather and share information for counter-terrorism and other purposes; to make further provision about the detention and questioning of terrorist suspects and the prosecution and punishment of terrorist offences; to impose notification requirements on persons convicted of such offences;” (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/28/introduction). 

Factors favouring disclosure for S24

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by disclosing this information the public would be able to see where public money is being spent and know that forces are doing as much as they can to combat terrorism.

Factors The factors favouring non-disclosure for S24

By disclosing this information would render Security measures less effective. This would lead to the compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infra-structure of the UK. The risk of harm to the public would be increased if the location of vulnerable areas of the UK were made public as this would provide opportunity for terrorist planning. Ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infrastructure of the UK would be compromised as terrorists could map across the country the level of counter-terrorist activity, giving them the knowledge of force’s individual capabilities.

The factors favouring disclosure for S31

By disclosing the information the public would see where public funds are being spent and would be able to take steps to protect themselves and their families. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public as they would be more observant in reporting suspicious activity. The Home Office regularly publish national statistical data on terrorism arrests.

Factors favouring non-disclosure for S31

By disclosing the information law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of terrorist crime.  More crime would be committed because terrorists would know which forces had less CT capability and capacity and individuals would therefore be placed at a greater risk.  A fear of crime would be realised because if the terrorists identified more vulnerable areas, they would target and exploit these areas and the public would be in fear of more terrorist activity occurring.  There would be an impact on police resources because if the number of CT Unit arrests was disclosed per force, the more vulnerable forces may need to increase their resources to reassure and protect the community.

Balance test

The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine National Security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by a terrorist attack, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in the highly sensitive area of terrorism.

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. CTU capabilities are high-profile sensitive issues of intelligence value to the terrorist and therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for disclosing the information requested is not made out.

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