Officers in Coventry (874_15)

Request

Please can I place a freedom of information act request with yourselves, i would like to know how many officers / response cars there are on duty within Coventry on an:

Early, late and night shift?

On top of this how many community beat officers on average are on duty during the day as well?

Response

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.

The total officer strength on the Coventry LPU as at February 2015 is 435.3.

However, in this case the number on duty on any given shift is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 31 (1) (a) (b) (c) (Law enforcement)

These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:

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

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

For further information and data on West Midlands Police see our publication scheme and disclosure log

Section 31 Evidence of 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.

In considering whether or not this information should be disclosed, consideration has been given to the potential harm that could be caused by disclosure.

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 how many officers were on duty on a specific date may cause a risk to West Midlands Police as well as potentially place officer’s safety and that of the general public at risk by affecting our ability to carry out law enforcement.

Disclosure of this information could be invaluable to members of the criminal fraternity, thereby providing those with criminal intent with knowledge of the number of officers on duty in Coventry at different times of the day or night.  This information could be invaluable to those individuals intent on criminal activity as they could create a distraction in one area of Coventry, leaving another area vulnerable to criminal exploitation. This would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Public Interest Test

Considerations favouring disclosure

Factors favouring the disclosure of this information would include better public awareness regarding officer resources which may reduce crime.

Considerations favouring non-disclosure

Factors favouring non-disclosure would be that it would compromise police tactics and may result in more crime being committed. As a result this would have an impact on police resources and would hinder the prevention or detection of crime and place individuals at risk.

Balance Test

After considering the advantages and disadvantages in disclosure it falls upon West Midlands Police to conduct a balance test regarding these issues. The strongest arguments for release are better public awareness, which may reduce crime, this needs to be weighed against the strongest argument for non-disclosure which is law enforcement. The police service is tasked with the prevention and detection of crime and protecting the public. Whilst there is a public interest in better awareness which may result in a reduction in crime, there is very strong public interest in safeguarding and protecting the public and the effective use of police resources.

Therefore in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

In accordance with the Act, this letter represents a Refusal Notice for this particular request

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