Staff Allegations (4896_14)

Request

Broken down by year:

  1. Number of different allegations made against West Midlands Police employees (Officers
  2. and Staff).
  3. A brief Summary of all allegations relating to Social Media (please note that this would be
  4. edited so that no individual would be recognised from the data)
  5. Count of Outcomes by Breach Type.

Response

Please see below and attached our response.

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

Please note that the tables attached are a count of allegations made against individuals – it is the case that on a number of occasions that an individual has had more than one accusation made against them and is therefore counted multiple times.

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.

In my original offer I said that I may be able to offer a breakdown by year, unfortunately upon receipt and further investigation/breakdown of the figures I am unable to release this as it may identify an individual which will go against Section 40(5) of the Act.

When citing Section 40(5), there is a requirement to consider whether disclosure would breach one of the Data Protection Principles, and in this case the first principle of fairness would be breached. In these circumstances Section 40(5) is classed as absolute and there is no requirement to consider the public interest.

In addition to the attached response, West Midlands Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information relevant to your request as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 23(5) Information relating to the Security bodies
Section 30(3) Investigations
Section 31(3) Law enforcement.

Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test.

Sections 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not that the information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.

Section 30 is a qualified class-based exemption and there is a requirement to conduct a public interest test.

Harm

To confirm or deny how many investigations into the “misuse” of social media have been carried out relating to police officer’s use of social media would compromise ongoing investigations or identify individuals. If a force applied an exemption to the information this would reveal that these policing techniques and investigative activity had taken place. Conversely, by stating ‘no information held’ would highlight to an officer that his conduct is not being investigated and that he is free to continue.

Information compiled for the purposes of an investigation, be it a criminal investigation or internal misconduct hearing, may contain information obtained from individuals to assist with an investigation, which would be in confidence. To disclose investigative information could dissuade people from providing information to the police in future. The public, be they general members of the public or internal police officers or staff, must have confidence that their information is treated sensitively and appropriately. Confirming or denying the information is held could lead to ‘trial by media’ as it is likely to identify any officers that may or may not be involved.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31

By confirming or denying when or how the police service monitor social network sites, would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31

Attachments

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