Dangerous dogs (1937A/23)
I am interested in obtaining detailed records concerning the number and breeds of dogs that have been seized under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act in the United Kingdom for the months of September 2023 and October 2023.
Please provide the following information:
1. The total number of dogs seized under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act in the month of September 2023 by the breed or type of the dog.
2. The total number of dogs seized under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act in the month of October 2023 by the breed or type of the dog.
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 not required to release all of the information requested. The information withheld is the “detailed record” element of each seizure. Please find attached our response.
|September 2023 (30 dogs seized)
|Other breeds x 2
|ABD (American Bull Dog) x 2
|Bull Terrier Cross x 1
|Bully XL x 11
|Cane Corso x 2
|Dobermann x 1
|Dogue de Bordeaux x 1
|Dutch Herder x 1
|French Bulldog x 1
|GSD (German Shepherd Dog) x 2
|GSD Cross x 1
|Pocket Bully x 1
|SBT (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) x 3
|SBT Cross x 1
|October 2023 (17 dogs seized)
|Cross Breed (unknown) x 3
|Akita x 1
|Belgian Malinois x 1
|Bully XL x 4
|Canine Corso x 1
|Dobermann x 2
|French Bulldog x 1
|GSD (German Shepherd Dog) x 1
|Jack Russell Terrier x 1
|Mastiff other x 1
|Other breeds x 1
REASONS FOR DECISION
The withheld information is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions
Section 30 (1) (a) (b) investigations
In line with the above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test (PIT) on disclosure. Please find this PIT below
Any further details regarding these incidents are exempt by the following:
Section 30 (1) (a) (b) – Investigations and proceedings
These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:
Public interest test (PIT)
Inappropriate disclosure of information about an investigation can interfere with that investigation by allowing suspects to change their behaviour, destroy evidence or prepare alibis based on their knowledge of the information known (or not known) by West Midlands Police.
Release of information through the Freedom of Information Act removes any of the legal strictures and assumptions of confidentiality associated with the due legal process. As a consequence, any on-going or subsequent court proceedings could be jeopardised where release of information regarding an individual was identified.
Considerations for disclosure
Disclosing information about investigations would provide a greater transparency in the investigating process and the actions of a public authority. It is clear that there is a public interest in public authorities operating in as transparent a manner as possible, as this should ensure they operate effectively and efficiently.
There is a clear public interest in ensuring that public authorities do not act outside their authority by investigating matters which fall outside their remit.
Considerations against disclosure
Fair Treatment of an Individual.
The interest of the public is best served by the non-disclosure of information which adversely affects the reputation of an individual e.g. whether they are involved in a police investigation. In this case the request specifically asks for information about detailed reports. Detailed reports would reveal an individuals on going case.
The public must be confident that West Midlands Police are committed to ensuring that information provided by them will only be used for appropriate purposes and that the confidentiality of any information given will be maintained. Therefore, they should be assured that West Midlands Police would never disclose information that would breach confidentiality.
Where the current or future law enforcement role of the force may be compromised by the release of information, then this is unlikely to be in the interest of the public. In this case, for the reasons outlined above, disclosing information relating to an investigation could jeopardise future police operations and compromise the future prevention and detection of crime.
Efficient and Effective Conduct of the Service
There is an inherently strong public interest in public authorities carrying out investigations to prevent and detect crime. This ensures that offenders are brought to justice and that the necessary checks and balances are in place to safeguard public funds and resources. To allow the effectiveness of investigations to be reduced, as described in the harm above, is not in the public interest. West Midlands Police need to be allowed to carry out investigations effectively away from public scrutiny until such times as the details need to be made public, otherwise it will be difficult for accurate, thorough and objective investigations to be carried out.
It would not be in the public interest to release information that may be of assistance to offenders/prevent an individual from being brought to justice. The right to a fair trial is of paramount importance and any disclosure which could enhance media attention prior to any proceedings could compromise an individual’s right to a fair trial under the Human Rights Act.
For a public interest test, issues that favour release need to be measured against issues that favour non-disclosure. 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.
The issues of transparency and awareness are noted. However, on balance it is considered that the public interest in releasing any information is outweighed by the potential impact release would have on individual’s privacy and on future law enforcement activities.
Although disclosing the requested information held by the public authority might provide a greater transparency in the investigating process, there are already a number of checks and balances on authorities to assess whether investigations are conducted appropriately. There are legal processes in place to ensure that all parties are given access to all the appropriate information at the time of any trial and subsequently through court records. In addition, if a person feels that they have been treated inappropriately by the police there are clear processes in place to ensure that matters are investigated thoroughly and appropriately.
Releasing information outside of such a schedule could undermine the smooth running of these processes and would impact on future judicial proceedings. Therefore, the wider public interest lies in protecting the ability of the public authority to conduct an effective investigation and consider the outcome.
Having considered the arguments for and against, the public interest test favours withholding the requested information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could reveal personal information or could compromise the future law enforcement role of the force.