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Football Match Report (495_15)


Can you please email me the post-match police report from Aston Villa v Manchester United played on Saturday December 20, 2014?


We can confirm that Information is held by West Midlands Police. However, while the majority of the information is attached to this email I am afraid that I am not required by statute to release all of the information requested. Please find attached a redacted document. This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) for the parts of the document that have not been released.




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.


In this case, this letter represents a Refusal Notice for the redacted parts of the attached document. The information is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions


Section 31(1)(a), Section 38(1)(b), Section 40(2)


These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:


In line with the above, I am required to complete a Prejudice Test/Public Interest Test (PIT) on disclosure.




The request asks for information regarding the post match report and police match debrief for a specific match/ football club, which would include details on specific locations where supporters may frequent prior to and after football matches. The cumulative effect of all the information requested will contribute to the identification of an individual location.  If WMP disclosed such information it could highlight a specific location as being the regular centre for football disorder which may lead to disorder or problems for the landlord and local community.


Public Safety is of paramount importance and the Police Service will not disclose information which would jeopardise the prevention of crime and/ or safety of individuals under any circumstances.


Section 31


Considerations favouring release of the information

Disclosing this information would provide greater transparency in the law enforcement process and the actions of West Midlands Police. 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.


Police officers need to be seen to be effectively enforcing the law. Release of this information could go some way towards reassuring the public that the police service has the ability and resources in place to ensure the proper policing of a specific event.


Considerations favouring withholding the information

The public interest will favour non-disclosure when the current or future law enforcement role of the force may be compromised by the release of information

Releasing specific meeting venue information into the public domain would compromise the current and future law enforcement role of the force. It would likely allow offenders to change their tactics in order to avoid detection and prosecution.


Where 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, providing the actual meeting venue detail would hinder the prevention and detection of crime.





Section 38


Considerations favouring release of the information

This information could assist individuals in gaining an understanding of public safety in areas where football matches are being held and where people are gathering before and after matches.  This would therefore help them gain awareness regarding personal safety issues.


Considerations favouring withholding the information

There may be occasions where the release of information relating to public safety may not be in the public interest.  Public Safety is of paramount importance to the police service and its partner agencies. The potential harm in not being able to manage events properly and crime being committed or innocent people being targeted is of grave concern and, whilst wishing to embrace the ethos of information disclosure, this cannot take precedence over public safety


Where third party interests might be jeopardised by release of information that relates to personal affairs of individuals and/or sensitive commercial information held about business, financial, contractual or operational issues. In this case, the release of information relevant to a single address may compromise the privacy rights of individuals.


Section 40 (2)


Giving the names of people involved and the likelihood of these data being joined with other available data, this information is likely to identify an individual.  It is therefore exempt by virtue of Section 40 (2) of the FOI Act.


Section 40 (2) is an absolute and class based exemption if to confirm or deny that the information exists would breach the third party’s data protection rights.  In this case to confirm or deny the existence of personal information would not constitute fair processing of the data and therefore would breach the first of the principles within the Data Protection Act 1998. As this exemption is class based I am not required to identify the harm in disclosure and in this instance I believe that the right to privacy outweighs any public interest in release.





Balancing Test

The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, the prevention and detection of crime and protecting the public.  Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively enforcing the law there is a strong public interest in safeguarding the safety of the public and police operations.


In considering the public interest in relation to this request I have balanced the factors in relation to transparency and accountability against the public interest in ensuring that West Midlands Police are able to appropriately enforce the law and protect the public


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.


We recognise that the public interest in being open and transparent is of great importance to all and release of information may assist in the public being more aware of the work that the police are carrying out.


However, while the public interest considerations favouring disclosure are noted, this must be balanced with the impact any release would have on the operational capability of the police. Releasing specific locations of pre/after match meeting locations areas would mean that the police service is less effective, thereby compromising law enforcement and increasing the risk of injuries to the public.


West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could compromise the future law enforcement role of the force or cause harm to the public.