1. How many stingers does your police force hold?
2. How much does each stinger cost your force? If you have different types, please detail the cost of each.
3. Do the stingers require periodic replacement? If so, how often, and under what criteria – IE age of device or number of deployments?
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 by statute to release all of the information requested. Please find attached our response. 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.
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, 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 (3) (Law enforcement)
This exemption 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. Please find this PIT attached.
Disclosing the details of the number of Stingers the force holds would compromise the effectiveness of policing tactics. If this information was put into the public domain, it may well enable criminals being pursued to successfully defeat police tactics and therefore put lives at risk.
Factors Favouring Disclosure
Police forces need to be properly equipped in order to meet the demands placed upon them. This information could go some way towards reassuring the public that West Midlands Police is adequately prepared in all areas.
Disclosure of the number of Stingers we hold would provide a better understanding of the tactical capabilities of the police.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure
Specific information relating to force capability would reveal resource information and intelligence to the criminal fraternity. Knowledge of the number of Stingers we hold could allow current or future law enforcement to be compromised by the release of information, then this is unlikely to be in the interest of the public.
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.
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 tactical approach of the police.
Because the Freedom of Information Act is ‘applicant blind’, any information released under the Act is available to everyone. It is well documented that criminals will use every advantage they can gain to successfully carry out their criminality.
Therefore it is my view that the public safety from non-disclosure is of greater importance than the advantage of public confidence from the disclosure of this 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 harm the public or that could compromise the safety and operational effectiveness of its officers.