Response Vehicles(5109_14)

Request

1) Does your Service have a dedicated ‘Response’ team / department?

 

2) If so, are the Response officers standard or advanced Police drivers?

 

3) What vehicles does your Service use for Response patrolling? (ie, Skoda Superb / Octavia, Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo etc)

 

4) In the last 4 years, how many of each vehicle (ie make and model – including if it is an estate etc) has your service purchased and at what unit cost?

 

5) Is this cost inclusive of VAT?

Response

1) Does your Service have a dedicated ‘Response’ team / department?

Yes

 

2) If so, are the Response officers standard or advanced Police drivers?

Standard

 

3) What vehicles does your Service use for Response patrolling? (ie, Skoda Superb / Octavia, Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo etc)

 

Vauxhall Insignias

 

4) In the last 4 years, how many of each vehicle (ie make and model – including if it is an estate etc) has your service purchased and at what unit cost?

 

This information is also exempt by virtue of section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act- commercial interest

 

5) Is this cost inclusive of VAT?

 

As above

 

This exemption 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.

 

Harm

 

Disclosure of the amount paid and the number of units purchased is likely to cause financial loss to both the supplier and the purchasing authority. Competitors would be able to use that information to their advantage when submitting tenders by undercutting their rival bidders. This will undermine the integrity and effectiveness of the tender process as authorities will not be in a position to purchase the best equipment as unit cost will become the sole overriding factor.

 

Public Interest Test

Factors Favouring Disclosure

Disclosing the costs would show to the public that an authority is spending public money wisely and effectively. The cost to the local community for the police service that they receive is always the subject of public debate. Any information which would aid the accuracy of that debate would be of positive benefit to all parties involved.

 

Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure

Disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the company involved and affect future procurement for the force as the information has been provided to us in confidence and is of a commercially sensitive nature. Disclosure is also likely to damage the relationship between West Midlands Police (WMP) and the supplier involved. This may in the future reduce the number of companies tendering therefore reducing the opportunities to purchase the most efficient and cost effective vehicle.

 

Disclosure of the costs/units may cause a breach of the confidences surrounding the current contracts. Although not sufficient at present for the confidential information exemptions to be engaged, there is still risk that disclosure could leave an authority at risk of civil proceedings.

 

Balancing Test

Before deciding which of these arguments is most compelling a balancing test needs to be completed. In this case the right of the public to know needs to be weighed against the damage caused to the suppliers and ultimately WMP itself.

 

The accountability for public funds is a powerful argument. However this is offset by the fact that WMP is already subject to a financial audit and is therefore already held accountable for the money that it spends. This process will not be enhanced by a disclosure under FOI.

 

When analysing the impact of commercial harm the number of competitors will always be a factor. Unit or total cost in the case of a sole supplier will not cause any of the issues outlined in this response. The fact that there are more suppliers in the market place for vehicles does mean that there is clear evidence that the tender process will always attract competitive quotes.

 

This means that the public will get good value for money.  This is further guaranteed by the fact that the police service uses tried and tested procurement processes, which are not enhanced by the disclosure of this information.

 

On balance at this time the public interest test does not favour disclosure.

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