Response Officers(6863_17)

Request

  1. How many response officers or equivalent (not including Specials, PCSO’s or other civilians); were available to respond to emergency calls across the force area at 1am on Saturday 14th January 2017.
  2. If possible could you break down these figures by deployment base/command area i.e; x numbers of officers based at … station or x number of officers based in … area.
  3. How many response officers or equivalent (not including Specials, PCSO’s or other civilians); were available to respond to emergency calls across the force area at 1am on Saturday 14th January 2012.
  4. If possible could you break down these figures by deployment base/command area i.e; x numbers of officers based at … station or x number of officers based in … area.

Response

I can confirm that West Midlands Police holds the requested information and that there were 543 officers on duty at 1 am on 14 January 2012 and 368 on duty at 1am on 14 January 2017.

 

It is important to note that in 2012 there were 10 Local Policing Unit’s covering the force area, whereby their respective shifts managed all emergency calls. We now have a Force Response, which are clustered and would manage all emergency calls across their respective cluster, Central, Eastern and Western. Force Response is supported by the Force Support Unit, which will assist in times of high demand.

 

To provide a breakdown of deployment base will attract the exemption under Section 31(1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement.

 

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

 

 

Evidence of Harm

 

West Midlands Police (WMP) are charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve.  To release the requested information causes a significant risk to future law enforcement capability of the force and place members of the public at risk or harm.  To disclose this information could lead to deliberate and malicious actions to divert police resources in areas where officer numbers are lower in number.

 

Officer numbers is a highly contentious and emotive subject and it is important that disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act do nothing to endanger our frontline colleagues.  Although this request may superficially seem to cause no problems, disclosures on officer numbers can have a cumulative effect, enabling reasonably accurate mapping to be produced over a period of time. As this request was submitted nationally every forces information would be different, as would the local issues affecting disclosure resulting in various degrees of harm.

 

WMP has a duty to prevent crime, apprehend and prosecute offenders and carry out the administration of justice.  By disclosing the requested information would impact on the force’s operational and tactical capabilities and any potential vulnerability.

 

It has to be remembered that the threat from terrorism cannot be ignored.  It should be recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable.  The UK faces a sustained threat from violent terrorists and extremists and the current national threat level to the UK is ‘severe’.

 

The security of the country is of paramount importance and we will not divulge information if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine national security.

 

Public Interest Test

 

Factors favouring disclosure for Section 31

 

WMP are accountable to the public for the efficient resourcing, training and budgeting of specialist units and departments, so that the public can be content that our force is fulfilling its responsibility to protect and serve our communities.  It is in the public interest to know that the force have sufficient resources.

 

Factors favouring non-disclosure for Section 31

 

Disclosing the requested information would be to disclose the force’s capabilities and any vulnerability which would compromise law enforcement and place members of the public at risk.  The disclosure of this information could lead to deliberate and malicious attacks to divert police resources in areas where officer numbers are lower or may expose a weakness which could be taken advantage of by the criminal fraternity.  By revealing any tactical or operational information would prejudice law enforcement which would endanger the safety of both members of the public and officers concerned.

 

Release of the information would provide the criminal fraternity with valuable information that would assist them with their activities, allowing them the opportunity to alter their behaviour to avoid detection.

 

Balance test

 

The most persuasive reason for disclosure, which is accountability, needs to be weighed against the most persuasive reason for non-disclosure, which in this case is that law enforcement capabilities and national security could be compromised placing members of the public at risk.

 

WMP is accountable for the spending of public money.  However, we must protect any information that would negatively impact on any operation or reveal our tactical capabilities.  Public safety and effective law enforcement is of paramount importance to Staffordshire Police and we will not divulge any information if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine the prevention or detection of crime, thereby assisting those persons intent on committing crime.

 

Therefore, the decision has been made to not disclose the information not provided.

 

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