You are on page 1of 5

WILTSHIRE POLICE

Force Disclosure Unit


Wiltshire Police HQ
London Road
Devizes
Wiltshire SN10 2DN
Telephone: 101
Direct Dial:01380-733446

Mr Matthew Burgess

Date 19 March 2015

Your ref

Our ref RFI 2015-096

Reply contact name is Senior Force Disclosure Decision Maker

Dear Matthew,
I write in connection with your request for information, dated 9th February 2015, concerning
Charlie Hebdo Magazine enquiries.
I am required by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to handle all requests in a manner that is
blind as to the identity and motives of the requestor. Any information released as a response to a
request is regarded as being published and therefore in the public domain without caveat.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Media Department of
Wiltshire Police.
Your request for information has now been considered and it is not possible to meet your
requirements in full.
You wrote:
I am writing under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information:
All correspondence between the press office/press officers and other members of the force
surrounding the issue of a police officer asking about the identities of purchasers of copies of
Charlie Hebdo from the newsagents as mentioned in the following article.
Response:
Your request for information has now been considered and I am not obliged to supply the
information that you have requested in full. Parts of this request are exempt by virtue of
Section 31(1)(a)(b) (Law Enforcement) and Section 40(2) Personal information.
Section 40 is an absolute exemption, therefore there is no need to consider either the harm or
public interest test in disclosure. However Section 31(1)(a)(b) is a prejudice based, qualified
exemption and therefore require both a harm test and a public interest test to be conducted.

www.wiltshire.police.uk

Overall harm for Section 31(1)(a)(b):


To disclose this information would undermine the core principles of policing which are to prevent
and detect crime. If information, which is either connected with operational/emergency planning or
tactics, was released into the public domain, substantial harm would be caused to future policing
operations and all individuals involved, i.e. police employees and the community. It would not be
in the interest of the community to release information which would assist criminals or other
persons in this manner and would therefore substantially prejudice Wiltshire police ability to
a) protect the physical or mental health and safety of its workforce and the community,
and
b) prevent or detect crime and to apprehend or prosecute offenders. This is particularly relevant in
the current terrorist climate.
It would obviously not benefit law enforcement and protect life and property to know the specifics
of Wiltshire police intelligence capability and subsequent actions to release un redacted
intelligence documents and e-mails into the public domain. I must remind you that disclosure
under Freedom of Information legislation is to the world, not just the individual making the
request.
Factors favouring disclosure for S31:
The full un redacted disclosure of this information could relate directly to the efficiency and
effectiveness of the Force and its officers, showing the public either positively or negatively that
satisfactory law enforcement measures are taken by Wiltshire police and its partners. In respect
of this request, the force and its employees are accountable to the public for efficient law
enforcement measures. There is a legitimate public interest in knowing that Wiltshire police fulfils
its policing functions effectively and efficiently. These policing functions are:
To protect life and property
To preserve order
To prevent and detect crime
To apprehend offenders
To bring offenders to justice
Clearly at all times, there is also a legitimate public interest in knowing that Wiltshire police is
proactive in its operational policing. Disclosure would assist individuals by raising awareness of
issues which may be of relevance to them; this could empower them to make more effective
decisions about their own activities or contribute to more accurate public debate. Wiltshire police
acknowledges the importance of public debate in building public confidence in the issues
surrounding the use police intelligence and effective law enforcement.
Factors favouring non-disclosure for S31:
Clearly there is legitimate public interest in knowing that Wiltshire police is able to respond in the
most effective and efficient way possible to all incidents and that the force is proactively seeking
to detect crime. However, by disclosing intelligence information, in the form of e-mails and other
correspondence, received from our partners or from members of the public, operational/tactical
decisions regarding on-going or future operational effectiveness may be compromised. While it
may be assumed that members of the public will anticipate a response to certain situations, the
Police Service nevertheless maintain a tactical advantage in so far that specific operational
details of any police response cannot be predetermined. Clearly disclosing un redacted
intelligence and Wiltshire police action to it, would prejudice law enforcement and endanger the
safety of all individuals and the community.

Knowledge gained, by those in the criminal fraternity, of how Wiltshire reacts to intelligence would
require Wiltshire police to take counter-measures to negate the increased risks. Accordingly
there would be resulting additional costs and increased demand to the public purse in terms of
administrative processes and additional police resources.
The Police Service and Wiltshire police have a responsibility to instil public confidence so that
people can enjoy a general sense of safety and security. Members of the public and police
officers may be at greater risk of physical and mental harm if individual criminals and/or criminal
organisations are armed with valuable tactical and operational information i.e. the supplying of un
redacted intelligence/tactical documents. Clearly any erosion of police advantage against
criminals or political/religious extremists would not be in the public interest.
Balancing Test:
I have carefully considered your request for information. The public interest test is centred on
whether information should be released to the world so that ANY person can view this information
not just you as a requestor. I have considered the impact that this will have on, law enforcement
and welfare of members of the public, police employees and the community and weighed these
against accountability and public awareness factors. The key test when considering the public
interest is to establish whether in all the circumstances of the request the public interest in
disclosing information is not outweighed by that in maintaining the exemption or exemptions.
There is an identifiable public interest in knowing that the police have an efficient and effective
process for dealing with all incidents and crimes and that it is proactively seeking to reduce and
detect crime. However, if information which is either connected with operational/emergency
planning or tactics such as the action/s taken when intelligence is received and the actual FULL
detail of that intelligence was released into the public domain, substantial harm would be caused
to all individuals involved, police officers and the community. This specific information could
indicate in a given situation what tactical options exist, therefore making those options less
effective and efficient, and thus endangering the physical and mental health and condition of
everyone involved. It would obviously not benefit law enforcement and the protection of life and
property to know the specifics of Wiltshire police capabilities/strategies.
Decision:
Having weighed up both parts of the public interest test, I have decided on balance it is in the
public interest to withhold parts of the requested information. This is because I do not see how the
release of this information in full can provide a tangible community benefit (i.e. protect life and
property and/or assist in prevention and detection of crime and/or the apprehension and
prosecution of offenders etc). While the public interest considerations favouring disclosure carry
particular weight, it is felt that, on balance, the perceived law enforcement and security aspects
derived from non-disclosure is of greater importance than the perceived public confidence derived
from disclosure. Consequently in this case, the public interest favours non-disclosure. To assist
you as best we can please find attached redacted correspondance.
Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires the Constabulary, when refusing to
provide information (because the information is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice
which: (a) states that fact, (b) specifies the exemption in question and (c) states (if that would not
otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. In accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice for those aspects of your request.
Exemptions applied:
Section 31 (1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement.
Section 40(2) Personal information

Wiltshire Police would like to thank you for the interest that you have shown in the Force.

Yours sincerely

Senior Force Disclosure Decision Maker

Wiltshire Police offers a re-examination of your case under its review procedure.

Force Disclosure Unit


Wiltshire Police HQ, London Road, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 2DN
Telephone 101 ext 720 3664

Freedom of Information Request Appeals Procedure


1.

Who Can Ask for a Review

Any person who has requested information from Wiltshire Police, which has been dealt with under
the Freedom of Information Act, is entitled to complain and request an internal review, if they are
dissatisfied with the response they received.
2.

How to Request a Review

Requests for review of a Freedom of Information request must be made in writing to the:
Force Disclosure Unit
Wiltshire Police Headquarters,
London Road, Devizes,
Wiltshire,
SN10 2DN
Email at disclosure@wiltshire.pnn.police.uk.
The reference number, date of the request and details of why the review is being requested must
be included. Requests for review should be brought to the attention of the Force Disclosure Unit
within 20 working days of the Forces response to the original FoI request.
3.

Review Procedure

Receipt of a request for review will be acknowledged in writing to include confirmation of the
reasons for the review. The review will be conducted by another Decision Maker, who is
independent from the original Decision Maker. The Force Disclosure Unit will set a target date for
a response. The response will be made as soon as is practicable with the intention to complete
the review within twenty working days. In more complex cases the review may take up to 40
working days.
The Independent Decision Maker will conduct a review of the handling of the request for
information and of decisions taken, including decisions taken about where the public interest lies
in respect of exempt information where applicable. The review enables a re-evaluation of the
case, taking into account the matters raised by the complaint.
4.

Conclusion of the Appeal

On completion of the review the Independent Decision Maker will reply to the complainant with
the result of the review. If the complainant is still dissatisfied following the review they should
contact the Information Commissioner to make an appeal. The Information Commissioner can be
contacted via the following details:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 01625 545 700
Fax: 01625 524 510
Email: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk