, I am only requesting disclosure of your current Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Policy – or whichever policy currently replaces the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Policy version 1.1 of which the draft under review version dated 20/05/20 was available within the link that you provided to “rape policy 4754”.
Secondly, you have kindly provided a link to your force VRR policy (within victim right to review 11973_17), a copy of which is attached below for convenience. This is version 1.0 dated 11.10.13. There is reference on page 2 to version 1.2 dated 21/08/17. Please could you provide the version of this policy that is currently in place.
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 to release all of the information requested. Please find attached our current VRR Policy and also a redacted Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Policy
Please note that the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Policy dated 20/5/2012 was never approved therefore as a force we are still referring to the attached 2009 policy.
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 parts 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 securing and preserving evidence from victims and details sources of forensic evidence. If West Midlands Police disclosed such information, If the criminal fraternity were made are aware of this it could increase their ability to minimise their forensic footprints with victims.
The policy contains direction to officers as to how to conduct their investigation to trace offenders, forensic and arrest/search strategies. All of these are details which a criminal could use to delay (or stop) their apprehension, and once apprehended reduce the ability of investigators to find evidence of their crimes. This therefore leads to offenders evading justice and presenting continuing public risk.
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 detail and strategies would compromise the law enforcement role of West Midlands Police.
Section 38 – Factors favouring disclosure:
This information could assist the public in gaining an understanding of how rape cases are dealt with and 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 investigate a crime properly and the danger of a person evading detection of a rape offence and equip them with the knowledge of how to evade detection, 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.