Internet Of Things (11435/17)

Request

Whether:

  1. Your force is or anticipates they will be involved in the development of capabilities, skills and capabilities to exploit the internet of things as part of criminal investigations.
  1. Your force is or anticipates they will receive training in relation to extracting / obtaining / retrieving data from or generated by connected devices.
  1. Documentation in relation to communications to / from / with the Home Office in relation to exploiting the internet of things / connected devices in criminal / civil / immigration or other investigations.

Response

West Midlands Police will neither confirm nor deny that we hold any of the requested information. This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).

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.

In this case West Midlands Police will neither confirm nor deny the existence of any relevant data by virtue of:

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

These exemptions and explanatory notes are shown here:

https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/information-management/freedom-of-information/#freedom-of-information-exemptions

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

Public Interest Test

It is well established that police forces use covert tactics and surveillance to gain intelligence in order to counteract criminal behaviour. Confirming or denying that West Midlands Police may or may not have the capability to examine connected devices would limit operational capabilities.  Criminals / terrorists could gain a greater understanding of the methods and techniques used by the police, enabling them to take steps to counter them. Providing this information across the whole of the UK would allow them to target specific areas. This would be to the detriment of providing an efficient policing service and a failure in providing a duty of care to all members of the public.

Factors Favouring Confirmation Or Denial For S31

Confirming or denying whether West Midlands Police have the capability to examine connected devices would provide an insight into the capabilities 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 Against Confirmation Or Denial For S31

Confirming or denying that whether West Midlands Police have the capability to examine connected devices would prejudice investigations and any possible future proceedings. It has been recorded that FOIA releases are monitored by criminals thus to confirm or deny this information is held would lead to law enforcement being undermined. West Midlands Police would not reveal what tactics may or may not be used to gain intelligence, this would clearly undermine the law enforcement and investigative process.

Balancing test

Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the Police Service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by various groups or individuals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations. For the reason outlined we will not be confirming or denying whether West Midlands Police have the capability to examine connected devices.

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