Christmas Period Crimes (12488_17)

Request

Please can you tell me how many crimes were reported to your force in the two-week period from 20th December 2016 – 3rd January 2017? Could I have this information broken down by the type of crime (burglary, assault, sexual assault, etc), and by the eventual outcome (e.g. charged, unresolved)?

Please could you provide the same information for the equivalent two-week periods in the two previous years (20th December 2015 – 3rd January 2016 and 20th December 2014 – 3rd January 2015)?

Response

Please find attached our response.

In addition to the attached response West Midlands Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information relevant to this request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemptions
Section 24(2) – National Security

Section 31(3) – 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 for Section 24 and Section 31.

Overall Harm for the NCND

The threat of 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. The actual threat level to the UK from international terrorism (as of the date of compiling this advice) is “severe” (see below link) – this means that a terrorist attack is highly likely. Policing operations and contingency planning remain under constant review and a wide range of overt and covert tactics will continue to be used across the UK.
https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/the-threats/terrorism/threat-levels.html

In this case the impact of confirming whether any other information is or isn’t held would reveal intelligence about policing activity relating to terrorist offences, providing those intent on committing criminal or terrorist acts with valuable information.

Public Interest Test
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by confirming or denying that any other information is held would allow the public to see where money is being spent and know that forces are doing as much as they can to combat terrorism.

Factors favouring neither confirming or denying for S24
To confirm or deny that any further information is held would render security measures less effective which would compromise ongoing or future operations to protect the security and infrastructure of the UK. The risk of harm to the public would be elevated if areas of the UK which appear vulnerable were identified which would also provide the opportunity for terrorist planning. Ongoing or future operations to protect the security and infrastructure of the UK would be compromised as terrorists could map the level of counter-terrorist activity across the country, providing them with the knowledge of individual force capability as well as valuable knowledge concerning the vulnerability of individual force areas.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31

To confirm or deny that this information is held would make members of the public more aware of the threat of terrorism and allow them to take steps to protect themselves and families. Improved public awareness may lead to more intelligence being submitted to police about possible acts of terrorism as members of the public will be more observant to suspicious activity, which in turn may result in a reduction of crime. The Home Office regularly publish national statistical data on terrorism.

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31
To confirm or deny that the requested information is held could compromise law enforcement tactics which would hinder the Police forces ability to prevent and detect terrorist crimes. The threat of terrorism will increase as more crimes are committed as a result of terrorists gaining knowledge about the capabilities of individual forces and therefore the public will be placed at a greater risk. A fear of crime will be realised as terrorists identify vulnerable areas and target and exploit these areas resulting in the public being in fear of more terrorist activity occurring. There would be an impact on police resources from confirming or denying that the information is held, as vulnerable forces may need to increase their resources to reassure and protect the surrounding community.

Balance Test
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. The security of the country is of paramount importance and West Midlands Police force will not divulge whether any other information is or is not held if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk, compromise law enforcement or undermine National Security.

Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that West Midlands Police force is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from terrorists, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this highly sensitive area.

There is also no requirement to satisfy any public concern over the legality of police operations and the tactics we may or may not use. The force is already held to account by independent bodies such as The Office of the Surveillance Commissioner and The Interception of Communications Commissioners Office. These inspections assess each constabulary’s compliance with the legislation and a full report is submitted to the Prime Minister and Scottish Ministers containing statistical information. Our accountability is therefore not enhanced by confirming or denying that any other information is held.

It is for these reasons that the Public Interest must favour neither confirming nor denying that any other information is held. However, this should not be taken as necessarily indicating that any other information that would meet your request does or does not exist.

Please note that these data should be interpreted with caution. Comparing numbers of incidents/crimes can be misleading and does not necessarily indicate the likelihood of someone being a victim of crime. In addition, the number of incidents/crimes recorded in an area over a period of time can be influenced by a number of factors. Consequently statistics on incidents/crimes for one period may not necessarily be a good indicator of future incidents in that area.

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. 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.

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.

Attachments

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