Online Offences (23070_18)

Request

  1. Please state the number of offence records listed in your crime database that contain the following keywords:

 

  1. “Tinder”
  2. “Grindr”
  3. “Hinge”
  4. “Happn”
  5. “JSwipe”
  6. “MuzMatch”
  7. “Bumble”
  8. “dating app”

 

Please identify these by conducting a free text search of your crime database, and provide information for each of the last five financial years, and the current financial year to 11.12.18.

 

2) Please provide a breakdown of the kind of offences recorded that included these keywords, for each individual keyword.

 

3) Please provide an anonymised copy of free text report for each incident recorded.

Response

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 afraid that I am not required to release all further detail for each incident report

 

REASONS FOR DECISION

 

The withheld information is exempt by virtue of the following exemptions

 

Section 30 (1) Investigations

Section 40 (2) personal data

 

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. See below

 

Section 40(2) is an absolute and class based exemption if to release the information exists would breach the third party’s data protection rights.  In this case to release this personal information would not constitute fair processing of the data. 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.

 

Please find attached our response and note that the search does not contain variations of spellings of these words and that there were no results for “Happn”, “MuzMatch”, “JSwipe”

 

Please note that these data should be interpreted with caution. Comparing numbers of incidents/crimes can be misleading and does not necessarily indicate the likelihood of someone being a victim of crime. In addition, the number of incidents/crimes recorded in an area over a period of time can be influenced by a number of factors. Consequently statistics on incidents/crimes for one period may not necessarily be a good indicator of future incidents in that area.

 

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

 

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

 

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.

 

 

 

 

 

Public Interest Test

 

Section 30(1) Harm

 

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 ongoing or subsequent court proceedings could be jeopardised where release of information regarding an individual was identified.

 

Considerations that favour 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.

 

Considerations that favour non-disclosure

 

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. The Police Service needs 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 interfere with court proceedings or 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.

 

Balancing Test

 

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. I 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 individuals’ privacy and future law enforcement activities. Having considered the arguments for and against disclosure, it is my view that the public interest test favours withholding the exempt information. At this time, it would not be in the public interest to release this information. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could reveal personal information or could compromise the future law enforcement role of the force

Attachments

23070_ATTACHMENT_1

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