CID Officers (23120/18)

Request

I have been informed that members of CID carry firearms and/or receive training. Please could you answer the following questions:

1) Are CID Detectives routinely authorised to carry firearms?

2) What training do CID officers receive to carry firearms?

3) Do you routinely offer firearms training to officers outside of the armed response team?

Thank you for taking the time to consider my request.

Response

This information is exempt by virtue of:

S31(1)(a) Law Enforcement

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) for Section 31 on disclosure. Please see below.

Overall Harm for Section 31

Harm

To disclose details around officers carrying firearms or receiving firearms training would undermine individual forces policing capabilities which consequently would be detrimental to their ability to protect the public and prevent crime. By confirming or denying that information is held by an individual force would allow comparison between forces across the country and it would enable the criminal fraternity to build a picture of what resources are in place. Consequently, this would prejudice the effectiveness of the police service as it would allow inferences to be drawn about force level capability and would identify vulnerability around the country.

Factors favouring disclosure of the information S31

By providing the requested information would give an insight into the Police Service. This would enable the public to have a better understanding of the effectiveness of the police service.  It would greatly assist in the quality and accuracy of public debate, which could otherwise be steeped in rumour and speculation. Where public funds are being spent, there is a public interest in accountability and justifying the use of public money.

Factors favouring non-disclosure of the information S31

By applying exemptions to the requested information inhibiting its disclosure would prevent law enforcement tactics from being compromised and would retain the Police force’s ability to prevent and detect terrorist crimes. It is given that 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, however, by exempting the information those with the inclination to commit acts of terrorism will not have knowledge regarding the vulnerability of specific areas and therefore the increase of threat will be prevented and a fear of crime will not be realised as terrorists will not know which areas to target and exploit .

In addition, disclosure of the information would have an adverse impact upon police resources as forces that could be perceived as vulnerable may need to increase their resources to reassure and protect the community.

It has been recorded that FOIA releases are monitored by criminals and terrorists and so to release the information would lead to law enforcement being undermined and would hinder the prevention or detection of crime. The Police Service would not wish to undermine the law enforcement and investigative process as this would place individuals at risk.

Balance Test

To indicate levels of policing activity and capability in particular areas of the country could allow individuals to exploit what may be considered as less active or resourced areas, by assessing patterns of police activity and deployments over time, ultimately to avoid detection.  Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations.  As much as there is a public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced this will be overridden in exceptional circumstances. A police force’s capabilities of combatting crime is a sensitive issue with intelligence value to those intent on committing crime and therefore, it is our opinion that for these issues, the balancing test for this information is not made out.

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