Metal Theft - 43/12
Dated: 07 Jun 2011
Date of request: 11/01/2012
Date of response: 28/02/2012
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 11 January 2012 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
Any current guidance or documents issued to officers relating to the investigation of metal thefts.
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Crime Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I have decided to disclose the located information to you in part as follows.
Please see the documents entitled 'BT Cable Identification' and 'BTP Leaflet' attached below.
No further information will be disclosed and by withholding we rely on the following exemption.
Section 31(1) - Law Enforcement
Section 31 is a prejudiced based qualified exemption. This means that the legislators have identified that the harm (prejudice) in disclosure needs to be documented and the public interest in disclosure should be considered. The result of both the harm and public interest test (PIT) should be articulated to the applicant, and I have set this out below.
The success of criminal investigations is very often dependent upon the use of covert techniques and methodology. The individuals involved in this type of activity, or any individual suspected by the criminal fraternities of being so involved, would have their safety put at risk, if information were released that could identify any individual or policing activity.
Many criminals are constantly active and astute in their assessment of police capabilities and will capitalise on any information they can glean about any policing activities and practice. Using the information to compromise policing methods will assist their offending behaviour. For example, enabling offenders to engage counter measure against disclosed surveillance techniques.
Such documents are intended to support the policing purpose by providing relevant intelligence on criminal methodology in respect of metal theft, and we would not have these disclosed outside of law enforcement.
Public interest in favour of disclosure:
The release of information will enable the public to have a better understanding of the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service and how such offences are investigated.
Public interest in favour of non disclosure:
Where current or future law enforcement of the force may be compromised by the release of information. In this case, for the reasons outlined in the evidenced harm, the effectiveness of current and future strategies for dealing with such offences and offenders may be compromised and undermine the prevention and detection of crime.
It is the Association of Chief Police Officer’s approach that information relating to criminal investigations will rarely be disclosed under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Whilst such information may be released in order to serve a ‘core policing purpose’ it will only be disclosed following a Freedom of Information request if there is are strong public interest considerations favouring disclosure. The further the considerations favouring disclosure are from a core policing purpose, the lighter the considerations will be.
Public safety is of paramount importance to the policing purpose and must be considered in respect of every release. As evidenced within the harm, by providing individuals with information which would assist their offending behaviour to enable them to carry out offences which may go undetected, would place the safety of the public in jeopardy.
In this case, it is not felt that disclosure of the requested information will serve a core policing purpose.
It should be noted that the public interest is not what interests the public but what will be of greater good, if released, to the community as a whole. It is not in the public interest to disclose information that may compromise a force’s ability to fulfil its core function of law enforcement.
In this case the Public Interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. It is not sufficient that information will be of interest to the public; its release must be beneficial to the community as a whole. The risk of undermining any policing methods or investigations can not be seen to be in the public interest.
You should consider this to be a refusal under section 17 of the Act for these parts of your request.
In addition to the above refusal Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information 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 exemption:
Section 23(5) Information relating to the Security bodies
Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.
DownloadsFOI Complaint Policy
FOI 43-12 BT Cable Identification
FOI 43-12 BTP Leaflet