1. How many vehicles does your organisation own/operate?
2. Please categorise these into cars, vans, trucks and lorries and other?
3. Please detail which departments in your organisation own/operate these vehicles?
4. Please detail whether In-Car/Dash cameras are installed in any of these vehicles?
5. If the answer to 4) is yes. Please detail: i) the name and model number of the camera ii) the price paid for it and iii) where it was purchased from.
6. Does your organisation have any policy on use of Dash Car cameras?
7. How many accidents were your organisation’s vehicles involved in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Please detail these by year?
8. Which car insurance company do you currently use to insure your fleet of vehicles?
DECISION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
I can confirm that some relevant information is held by West Midlands Police. However, although the majority of this information is attached, I am withholding some of that information since I consider that the following exemptions apply to it:
Questions 2 and 3 – Section 31 (1) (a)(b) (Law Enforcement)
Question 6 – Section 21 (Information Reasonably Accessible By Other Means)
These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:
REASONS FOR DECISION
The Freedom of Information Act places two responsibilities on public authorities, the first of which is to confirm what information it holds and secondly to then disclose that information, unless exemptions apply.
With regards to question 6, under section 21 of the Act we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you.
A copy of our in-car video recording policy is available via the Policies and Procedures page of the West Midlands Police website at the following link:
With regards to questions 2 and 3, information with regards to covert vehicles is exempt by virtue of the following exemption:
Section 31 (1) (a)(b) – Law Enforcement
In line with Section 31 above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test (PIT) on disclosure:
Disclosing details of covert vehicles would mean that they could then be identified. This would compromise their effectiveness by alerting individuals involved in criminal activity that there is a police presence, allowing them to take steps to avoid detection.
Factors Favouring Disclosure
Where public funds are being used by West Midlands Police, the public have an interest in knowing what it is being used for. Disclosure of this information would inform the public of precisely which vehicles their money is being spent on, so that they can be satisfied that it is being used efficiently.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure
Disclosing details of covert vehicles would allow for the identification of those vehicles by individuals involved in criminal activities. This would be invaluable information to them, as they could change their behaviour to evade detection or destroy evidence if they suspect that they are being observed. This would compromise the tactical effectiveness of using covert vehicles and hinder the prevention or detection of crime.
For a public interest test, issues that favour disclosure 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.
In considering the public interest in relation to this request, I must balance the factor in relation to transparency and accountability, against the public interest in ensuring that West Midlands Police are able to appropriately enforce the law.
While I recognise the public interest in promoting transparency where the use of public funds is concerned, releasing details of covert vehicles would allow criminals to be able to identify these vehicles, thus compromising law enforcement tactics, meaning that the police service is less effective.
West Midlands Police has a duty to deliver effective law enforcement, ensuring the prevention and detection of crime, and the apprehension of offenders.
Therefore it is my opinion that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that would compromise the future law enforcement role of the force.