Windows XP (7984/17)

Request

Please state the number of computers your police force currently uses that operate the Windows XP operating system.

Please state what percentage of all PCs currently used by your force that this number represents.

Please state the number of computes your police force currently uses that operate earlier variants of Windows, such as Windows ME, 2000, 98 or 95.

Please state what percentage of all PCs currently used by your force that this number represents.

Response

West Midlands Police can neither confirm nor deny that information is held relevant to your request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 24(2) National Security

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

With Sections 24 and 31 being prejudice based qualified exemptions, both evidence of harm and public interest considerations need to be articulated to the applicant.

Harm in Confirming or Denying that Information is held

Policing is an information-led activity, and information assurance (which includes information security) is fundamental to how the Police Service manages the challenges faced. In order to comply with statutory requirements the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice for Information Assurance has been put in place to ensure the delivery of core operational policing by providing appropriate and consistent protection for the information assets of member organisations, see below link:

https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/information-management/<https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/information-management/>

To confirm or deny the type of operating system West Midlands Police use would identify vulnerable computer systems.

Public Interest Considerations

Section 24(2) National Security

Factors favour complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that information is held

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and how resources are distributed within an area of policing. In the current financial climate of cuts and with the call for transparency of public spending this would enable improved public debate.

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming or denying that information is held

 Security measures are put in place to protect the community we serve. As evidenced within the harm to confirm the type of operating system West Midlands Police use would highlight to individuals intent on carrying out criminal activity vulnerabilities within WMP.

If WMP were to fall subject to a cyber-attack, the implications would affect the country on a national scale and therefore could adversely affect national security as well as undermine policing.

Irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, the public entrust the Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection and the only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with what is placed into the public domain.

Any incident that results from such a disclosure would, by default, affect National Security.

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a)

Modern-day policing is intelligence led and WMP share information with other law enforcement agencies as part of their investigation process. To confirm the type of operating system WMP uses could hinder the prevention and detection of crime as well as undermine the partnership approach to investigations and enforcement.

Should offenders take evasive action to avoid detection, police resources may well be diverted from frontline duties and other areas of policing in order to locate and apprehend these individuals. In addition, the safety of individuals and victims would also be compromised.

Police information, intelligence and tactics could be obtained from a cyber-attack resulting in the criminal fraternity including terrorists gaining knowledge that will assist in the planning of offences and evading detection. It is also possible the sharing of information and the updating of multiagency databases such as PNC are affected, which could jeopardise officer safety as well as that of the public.

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that information is held

Confirming that information exists relevant to this request would lead to a better informed public which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to reduce these attacks.

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) neither confirming nor denying that information is held

Confirmation or denial that information is held in this case would suggest West Midlands Police take their responsibility to protect information and information systems from unauthorised access, destruction, etc., dismissively and inappropriately.

Balancing Test

The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying the requested information exists. The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protection the communities we serve. As part of that policing purpose, information is gathered which can be highly sensitive relating to high profile investigative activity.

Weakening the mechanisms used to monitor any type of criminal activity, and specifically terrorist activity would place the security of the country at an increased level of danger.

In order to comply with statutory requirements and to meet NPCC expectation of the Police Service with regard to the management of information security a national policy approved by the College of Policing titled National Policing Community Security Policy has been put in place. This policy has been constructed to ensure the delivery of core operational policing by providing appropriate and consistent protection for the information assets of member organisations. A copy of this can be found at the below link:

http://library.college.police.uk/docs/APP-Community-Security-Policy-2014.pdf

In addition anything that places that confidence at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the Police Service. Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information is held.

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