Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Can you disclose all correspondence in the last six months between the MPS and whyte & co...And whyte & co and MPS

Yours faithfully,

geoff kelly

Dear Mr Kelly

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2014060002719

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 25/06/2014.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

* Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Can you disclose all
correspondence in the last six months between the MPS and whyte &
co...And  whyte & co and MPS

Your request will now be allocated to the relevant unit within the MPS and
will be processed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act).  

You will receive your response directly from the relevant unit within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act.  

In some circumstances the MPS may be unable to achieve this deadline.  If
this is likely you will be informed and given a revised time-scale at the
earliest opportunity.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

If you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please contact
us at [email address] or on the phone at 0207 161 3500, quoting the
reference number above.  Should your enquiry relate to the logging or
allocations process we will be able to assist you directly and where your
enquiry relates to other matters (such as the status of the request) we
will be able to pass on a message and/or advise you of the relevant
contact details.

Yours sincerely

Peter Deja
Logging and Allocations Team
Public Access Office

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Dear Mr Kelly

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2014060002719

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 25/06/2014.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

“Can you disclose all correspondence in the last six months between the
MPS and Whyte & Co...And Whyte & Co and MPS”

DECISION

This letter is to inform you that it will not be possible to respond to
your request within the cost threshold. We estimate that the cost of
complying with this request would exceed the appropriate limit. The
appropriate limit has been specified in regulations and for agencies
outside central Government; this is set at £450.00.   This represents the
estimated cost of one person spending 18 hours [at a rate of £25 per hour]
in determining whether the MPS holds the information, and locating,
retrieving and extracting the information. In accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice.

To answer this question would exceed the cost threshold because to locate,
retrieve and extract this information I would need to contact all 32
boroughs.  This would entail e-mailing every member of staff and officer.
This is because this information is not held in one system, thereby
allowing this information to be extracted within the 18 hours. The
correspondence you seek can be in any form such as e-mails, letters, fax
etc and be held in paper format or electronic format. To put this into
some context I had contacted a number of boroughs and have confirmed my
initial thoughts, as explained above. Barnet Borough have informed me that
it would take one working day (approximately) 8 hours to locate, retrieve
and extract this information. If this time was multiplied by the remaining
31 boroughs, it is this search that exceeds the cost threshold.

Please note that the Information Commissioner's guidance states that
'Section 12 makes it clear that a public authority does not have to make a
precise calculation of the costs of complying with a request.  Only an
estimate is required ... what amounts to a reasonable estimate can only be
considered on a case by case basis.'  The Information Commissioner also
advises 'where a reasonable estimate has been made that the appropriate
limit would be exceeded, there is no requirement for a public authority to
undertake work up to the limit.’

Advice and Assistance

Under Section 16 we are required to provide you with advice and assistance
to assist you with submitting a new request for recorded information which
can be located, retrieved and extracted within the 18 hours specified by
the Act.  

In this instance, would you like to pick a few boroughs you are interested
in and searches can be focused on those boroughs.

Please also note a public authority's right to aggregate requests of a
similar nature from an applicant.

Section 12 (4) of the Act provides:
(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that, in such
circumstances as may be prescribed, where two or more requests for
information are made to a public authority-
(a) by one person, or
(b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting
in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,
the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to
be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them.

Therefore, if you were to submit a separate request asking for this
information from each borough, we would be within our rights to aggregate
these requests.  This is set out in Section 5 of The Freedom of
Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations
2004.  Please see the Legal Annex for an extract.  Therefore, you would
need to leave a 'reasonable' period ('60 consecutive working days')
between submitting individual requests for information from each borough.

Please note, if you wish to proceed with the above options they will be
logged as a new request and considered under the Act.  If it is believed
that your revised request will also exceed the cost limit, some-one will
be in touch at the earliest convenience to discuss this with you.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Audeeba Ali
Quality and Assurance Advisor

LEGAL ANNEX:

Section 17(5) of the Act provides:

(5) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information,
is relying on a claim that section 12 or 14 applies must, within the time
for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that
fact.

Section 12(1) of the Act provides:

(1) Section 1 does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request
for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with
the request would exceed the appropriate limit.

The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and
Fees) Regulations 2004

3 (1) This regulation has effect to prescribe the appropriate limit
referred to in section 9A(3) and (4) of the 1998 Act and the appropriate
limit referred to in section 12(1) and (2) of the 2000 Act.
(2) In the case of a public authority which is listed in Part I of
Schedule 1 to the 2000 Act, the appropriate limit is £600.
(3) In the case of any other public authority, the appropriate limit is
£450.
4 (3) In a case in which this regulation has effect, a public authority
may, for the purpose of its estimate, take account only of the costs it
reasonably expects to incur in relation to the request in-
(a) determining whether it holds the information, (b) locating the
information, or a document which may contain the information, (c)
retrieving the information, or a document which may contain the
information, and
(d) extracting the information from a document containing it.

5.  - (1) In circumstances in which this regulation applies, where two or
more requests for information to which section 1(1) of the 2000 Act would,
apart from the appropriate limit, to any extent apply, are made to a
public authority -
(a) by one person, or

(b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting
in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,
the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to
be the total costs which may be taken into account by the authority, under
regulation 4, of complying with all of them.

    (2) This regulation applies in circumstances in which-
(a) the two or more requests referred to in paragraph (1) relate, to any
extent, to the same or similar information, and

(b) those requests are received by the public authority within any period
of sixty consecutive working days.
    (3) In this regulation, "working day" means any day other than a
Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank
holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971[4] in any part
of the United Kingdom."
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)'s handling of my FOI request 'correspondence between whyte and co and the MPS'.

[You have a central computer storage system So no need to contact 32 boroughs]

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

geoff kelly

Dear Mr Kelly

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2014070002167

I write in connection with your request for a review of the original MPS
decision relating to 2014060002719 which was received by the Metropolitan
Police Service (MPS) on 23/07/2014.  

Your request for a review will now be considered in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).  You will receive a response to
your request for a review of the original MPS case within a timescale of
20 working days.  In some circumstances the MPS may be unable to achieve
this deadline.  If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

Yours sincerely

Peter Deja
Policy and Support Officer
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk
Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Dear Mr. Kelly  

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2014070002167

Further to our acknowledgement, I am now able to provide a response to
your complaint concerning your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request
(reference: 2014060002719).

I note that you seek access to the following:

"Can you disclose all correspondence in the last six months between the
MPS and Whyte & Co...And Whyte & Co and the MPS"

I also note the following wording of your complaint:

"You have a central computer storage system so no need to contact 32
boroughs".

DECISION

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has completed its review and has
decided to uphold the original decision.

REASON FOR DECISION

Firstly, I believe it prudent here to remind you of what is covered by the
Act.  

The FOIA covers:

* records capable of recovery in any form,
* information not data or documents, and
* information in any format, no matter how it is recorded.

This therefore includes, but is not limited to, written records (letters),
emails, faxes and answer phone messages - all of which could be relevant
to your request.

Secondly, your original request asked for 'all correspondence'.
 Correspondence is defined as 'communication by exchanging letters' or
'letters sent or received'.  It is in no way limited to electronic
communications and furthermore you have not stated that this was what you
required in your request (although it is possible to infer this from the
wording of your complaint).

Therefore, with these points in mind, upon receipt of your request further
enquiries were made into what information could and could not be retrieved
within the 18 hours specified by the Fees Regulations.

I note that Ms. Ali, who responded to you originally, made enquiries with
various boroughs in order to ascertain whether there was any method of
quickly locating, retrieving and extracting all correspondence received on
borough over the past 6 months (between 25/12/13 and 25/6/14).  They all
confirmed there was no simple method of retrieving such correspondence.
 As Ms. Ali explained within her response, the ICO only requires
authorities to make a reasonable estimate of cost, and I believe in this
instance she has satisfied this requirement by contacting a cross section
of boroughs for her estimate.  In addition to her estimate of 32 boroughs,
however, I would like to also suggest that some central operational
command units (OCUs) would also need approaching in order for them to make
enquiries.  For example, given the nature of Whyte and Co.'s business it
may also be pertinent to contact SC&O15 - Traffic, and ascertain whether
any correspondence had been received centrally.  This would, in turn,
increase the time estimate provided to you.

I am aware that one borough estimated that thorough searches to locate,
retrieve and extract any pertinent correspondence would take around 8
hours.  I appreciate that this may sound like an over-inflated estimate.
 However, if we were to reduce this estimate significantly - say, to 30
minutes (a conservative estimate given that all borough correspondence is
not going to be received and stored in one location), then replicate this
for each of the other boroughs, this would still take 16 hours.  Moreover,
this would not take into account the time taken to contact any central
OCUs, or conduct any searches of electronic correspondence.

In order to see if any hard copies of correspondence could be located
within the cost threshold, I conducted some searches on MetRIC (the Met's
Requests for Information and Correspondence System).  This system was
originally intended to support the receipt and management of internal and
external correspondence (corres) in the MPS.  However, the use of the
system has evolved and it is now mainly used to help ensure MPS compliance
with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Environmental
Information Regulations (EIR) and the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
 Although in theory it was originally intended that all correspondence
generated by and received by the MPS should be recorded on the system,
this is not the case - for example, not every member of the MPS has a
licence for access to the system and internal correspondence is only ever
attached when it relates to a specific case.  Therefore, although it is
one avenue that can be searched it is far from a complete record of MPS
correspondence.  

Despite this I have conducted some searches on MetRIC to see whether any
information pertinent to your request is held on the system.  I ran a
search on MetRIC for the word "Whyte" between the dates mentioned and
where the case type was "General Correspondence".  There were 42 hits
returned, which included duplicates.  I then went through the list in
order to record the MetRIC numbers and, where possible, identify and
remove duplicates.  This left me with 29 hits and took a total of 49
minutes.  I then spent a further 35 minutes searching for and opening each
of these, and then reading the notes and attached documents /
correspondence sent from the case.  Therefore, I spent a total of one hour
and 25 minutes interrogating this system.  Although the ICO states that
once a reasonable cost estimate has been arrived at, work does not need to
be conducted, I thought at this stage it would be beneficial to explain
the estimate in as detailed a way as possible.  I can confirm that
although these 29 hits contained the word 'Whyte', none of these general
correspondence cases related to Whyte and Co.  Instead 'Whyte' related to
applicant and staff names, address locations, and formed part of the name
of a solicitors company.  However, without detailed investigation this
could not have been determined.

Finally, I considered your comments about  "a central computer storage
system" and whether any such system existed, and could be used to locate,
retrieve and extract the data requested in email accounts within the cost
limit.  Originally I made enquiries with my colleagues in MetHQ Portfolio
& Planning, who are responsible for retrieving data stored on our back up
servers.  I was informed that because of the recent time period that you
were interested in, they could not assist - their work was focused on
older information.  I then contacted my colleagues in the High Tech Crime
Unit, as they are responsible for MaaS.  Most users migrated to this
system in staggered intervals from March 2013 onwards.  Therefore, in this
case, they were the unit which could assist.  However, although they
confirmed they did have the capability of conducting the relevant searches
of users' email accounts, they confirmed that this was not the simple task
that it first appeared to be.  

Whilst it is possible to search and recover the data itself, the method
used to acquire it and present it into a viewable format is an enormous
undertaking to be completed.  To explain, there are four hundred and eight
mailboxes currently in operation within the MPS which utilise one hundred
and sixty search journals to store all of the data on the MPS network.  As
of 7th August 2014, there are seventy thousand user accounts in addition
to mailbox accounts relating to either borough or specialist units.  For
your information, the retention period for this data is three years,
before it is over-written and effectively lost forever.
 
With this in mind, work was undertaken to see whether a search could be
made for any emails containing "@whyte.co.uk" and whether it would yield
any results.  An attempt was initially made to search across the whole
network within the time scales provided, but this effectively would not
work due to the enormity of the task and the search 'failed'.
 Consequently, a second attempt was made to run the search, but this time
only on ten mailboxes.  This search worked, and took between ten and
fifteen minutes.  This search yielded twenty six results that included the
above email address.  That process would have to be repeated until all of
the remaining 398 mailboxes had been searched.  However, experience shows
that the times to recover the data will vary from a matter of minutes
(such as in this case) to perhaps a number of hours, depending upon the
number of users and level of data in those specific mailboxes.

In addition to these searches, further work would then be required to
transfer any relevant recovered data in its raw format (which is a '.PST'-
Personal Storage Table) to a different readable format - something that
would take a considerable length of time. To prevent those '.PST' files
from becoming active on the MPS network they would need to be exported to
another database so that data could be transferred into a format which
does not compromise the integrity of the data and more importantly enables
the viewer to review the data in a HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)
format.  Following that process for each '.PST' file the data would need
to be burned either to a disc or exported to a portable hard-drive that
has the storage capability for what potentially could be (depending on the
results) a large volume of data.

It has been estimated by the experts within this specialist unit, based on
their previous knowledge and experience of the search capabilities and the
consequent work which would be required, that this electronic search on
its own has the potential to far exceed the 18 hours specified by the Act.

Considering all of the points above, this is why I have today decided to
uphold the application of section 12(1).  As you were originally provided
the relevant extracts of the legislation that apply, I see no benefit in
replicating these for you in this response.

Section 16 - advice and assistance

As you are aware, section 16 of the Act requires public authorities to
provide advice and assistance in order to help applicants redefine their
requests to fall within the cost limit.

In this instance, as part of my argument for a cost refusal, I have
already confirmed that no information is held on the MetRIC system, and so
there is no point referring to this again.

You could possibly limit your request to specific boroughs' paper
correspondence.  However, this may still engage cost because each
boroughs' paper record systems may be different and therefore the time
that they may take to locate, retrieve and extract could vary.  I would
also like to take this opportunity to explain to you a public authority's
right to aggregate requests of a similar nature from an applicant. Section
12(4) of the Act explains that requests from the same person asking for
the same or substantially similar information can be aggregated for cost
purposes.  Therefore, if you were to submit a separate request asking for
this information from each borough, we would be within our rights to
aggregate these requests.  This is set out in Section 5 of The Freedom of
Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations
2004.  You would need to leave a 'reasonable' period between submitting
such requests, which is '60 consecutive working days'.

Regarding the electronic search system, you could limit your request to
just emails.  However, this in itself would not sufficiently reduce the
amount of time taken to bring it within the cost limit.  Furthermore,
reducing the time period that you are interested in would not impact upon
the time taken to search the systems.  You could provide specific email
addresses that you wished for us to search for (for example, specific
email addresses from those at Whyte & Co.) as this may reduce the amount
of time that it would take to extract the data from the systems and
convert to a suitable format.  Alternatively you could limit the areas
that you wished for us to search for within the MPS (for example, just
SC&O15 or just a specific borough such as Croydon).  However choosing
either of these options is not a guarantee that cost would not again be
engaged, as we unfortunately would not know how long these searches would
actually take unless we started to do them.  However, you would be
informed at the earliest convenience if this was the case.

If you wish to submit a new, narrower request, please let me know and this
can be logged and considered under the Act.  If you have any difficulty in
doing so, please do not hesitate to contact me for further assistance.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

If you are dissatisfied with this response please read the attached paper
entitled Complaint Rights which explains how to contact the Information
Commissioner with your complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

S. Stroud
FOIA Quality and Assurance Advisor
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

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Dear Mr. Kelly  
Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2014070002167
Further to our acknowledgement, I am now able to provide a response to
your complaint concerning your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request
(reference: 2014060002719).
I note that you seek access to the following:
"Can you disclose all correspondence in the last six months between the
MPS and Whyte & Co...And Whyte & Co and the MPS"
I also note the following wording of your complaint:
"You have a central computer storage system so no need to contact 32
boroughs".
DECISION
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has completed its review and has
decided to uphold the original decision.
REASON FOR DECISION
Firstly, I believe it prudent here to remind you of what is covered by the
Act.  
The FOIA covers:

* records capable of recovery in any form,
* information not data or documents, and
* information in any format, no matter how it is recorded.

This therefore includes, but is not limited to, written records (letters),
emails, faxes and answer phone messages - all of which could be relevant
to your request.
Secondly, your original request asked for 'all correspondence'.
 Correspondence is defined as 'communication by exchanging letters' or
'letters sent or received'.  It is in no way limited to electronic
communications and furthermore you have not stated that this was what you
required in your request (although it is possible to infer this from the
wording of your complaint).
Therefore, with these points in mind, upon receipt of your request further
enquiries were made into what information could and could not be retrieved
within the 18 hours specified by the Fees Regulations.
I note that Ms. Ali, who responded to you originally, made enquiries with
various boroughs in order to ascertain whether there was any method of
quickly locating, retrieving and extracting all correspondence received on
borough over the past 6 months (between 25/12/13 and 25/6/14).  They all
confirmed there was no simple method of retrieving such correspondence.
 As Ms. Ali explained within her response, the ICO only requires
authorities to make a reasonable estimate of cost, and I believe in this
instance she has satisfied this requirement by contacting a cross section
of boroughs for her estimate.  In addition to her estimate of 32 boroughs,
however, I would like to also suggest that some central operational
command units (OCUs) would also need approaching in order for them to make
enquiries.  For example, given the nature of Whyte and Co.'s business it
may also be pertinent to contact SC&O15 - Traffic, and ascertain whether
any correspondence had been received centrally.  This would, in turn,
increase the time estimate provided to you.
I am aware that one borough estimated that thorough searches to locate,
retrieve and extract any pertinent correspondence would take around 8
hours.  I appreciate that this may sound like an over-inflated estimate.
 However, if we were to reduce this estimate significantly - say, to 30
minutes (a conservative estimate given that all borough correspondence is
not going to be received and stored in one location), then replicate this
for each of the other boroughs, this would still take 16 hours.  Moreover,
this would not take into account the time taken to contact any central
OCUs, or conduct any searches of electronic correspondence.
In order to see if any hard copies of correspondence could be located
within the cost threshold, I conducted some searches on MetRIC (the Met's
Requests for Information and Correspondence System).  This system was
originally intended to support the receipt and management of internal and
external correspondence (corres) in the MPS.  However, the use of the
system has evolved and it is now mainly used to help ensure MPS compliance
with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Environmental
Information Regulations (EIR) and the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
 Although in theory it was originally intended that all correspondence
generated by and received by the MPS should be recorded on the system,
this is not the case - for example, not every member of the MPS has a
licence for access to the system and internal correspondence is only ever
attached when it relates to a specific case.  Therefore, although it is
one avenue that can be searched it is far from a complete record of MPS
correspondence.  
Despite this I have conducted some searches on MetRIC to see whether any
information pertinent to your request is held on the system.  I ran a
search on MetRIC for the word "Whyte" between the dates mentioned and
where the case type was "General Correspondence".  There were 42 hits
returned, which included duplicates.  I then went through the list in
order to record the MetRIC numbers and, where possible, identify and
remove duplicates.  This left me with 29 hits and took a total of 49
minutes.  I then spent a further 35 minutes searching for and opening each
of these, and then reading the notes and attached documents /
correspondence sent from the case.  Therefore, I spent a total of one hour
and 25 minutes interrogating this system.  Although the ICO states that
once a reasonable cost estimate has been arrived at, work does not need to
be conducted, I thought at this stage it would be beneficial to explain
the estimate in as detailed a way as possible.  I can confirm that
although these 29 hits contained the word 'Whyte', none of these general
correspondence cases related to Whyte and Co.  Instead 'Whyte' related to
applicant and staff names, address locations, and formed part of the name
of a solicitors company.  However, without detailed investigation this
could not have been determined.
Finally, I considered your comments about  "a central computer storage
system" and whether any such system existed, and could be used to locate,
retrieve and extract the data requested in email accounts within the cost
limit.  Originally I made enquiries with my colleagues in MetHQ Portfolio
& Planning, who are responsible for retrieving data stored on our back up
servers.  I was informed that because of the recent time period that you
were interested in, they could not assist - their work was focused on
older information.  I then contacted my colleagues in the High Tech Crime
Unit, as they are responsible for MaaS.  Most users migrated to this
system in staggered intervals from March 2013 onwards.  Therefore, in this
case, they were the unit which could assist.  However, although they
confirmed they did have the capability of conducting the relevant searches
of users' email accounts, they confirmed that this was not the simple task
that it first appeared to be.  
Whilst it is possible to search and recover the data itself, the method
used to acquire it and present it into a viewable format is an enormous
undertaking to be completed.  To explain, there are four hundred and eight
mailboxes currently in operation within the MPS which utilise one hundred
and sixty search journals to store all of the data on the MPS network.  As
of 7th August 2014, there are seventy thousand user accounts in addition
to mailbox accounts relating to either borough or specialist units.  For
your information, the retention period for this data is three years,
before it is over-written and effectively lost forever.
 
With this in mind, work was undertaken to see whether a search could be
made for any emails containing "@whyte.co.uk" and whether it would yield
any results.  An attempt was initially made to search across the whole
network within the time scales provided, but this effectively would not
work due to the enormity of the task and the search 'failed'.
 Consequently, a second attempt was made to run the search, but this time
only on ten mailboxes.  This search worked, and took between ten and
fifteen minutes.  This search yielded twenty six results that included the
above email address.  That process would have to be repeated until all of
the remaining 398 mailboxes had been searched.  However, experience shows
that the times to recover the data will vary from a matter of minutes
(such as in this case) to perhaps a number of hours, depending upon the
number of users and level of data in those specific mailboxes.
In addition to these searches, further work would then be required to
transfer any relevant recovered data in its raw format (which is a '.PST'-
Personal Storage Table) to a different readable format - something that
would take a considerable length of time. To prevent those '.PST' files
from becoming active on the MPS network they would need to be exported to
another database so that data could be transferred into a format which
does not compromise the integrity of the data and more importantly enables
the viewer to review the data in a HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)
format.  Following that process for each '.PST' file the data would need
to be burned either to a disc or exported to a portable hard-drive that
has the storage capability for what potentially could be (depending on the
results) a large volume of data.
It has been estimated by the experts within this specialist unit, based on
their previous knowledge and experience of the search capabilities and the
consequent work which would be required, that this electronic search on
its own has the potential to far exceed the 18 hours specified by the Act.
Considering all of the points above, this is why I have today decided to
uphold the application of section 12(1).  As you were originally provided
the relevant extracts of the legislation that apply, I see no benefit in
replicating these for you in this response.
Section 16 - advice and assistance
As you are aware, section 16 of the Act requires public authorities to
provide advice and assistance in order to help applicants redefine their
requests to fall within the cost limit.
In this instance, as part of my argument for a cost refusal, I have
already confirmed that no information is held on the MetRIC system, and so
there is no point referring to this again.
You could possibly limit your request to specific boroughs' paper
correspondence.  However, this may still engage cost because each
boroughs' paper record systems may be different and therefore the time
that they may take to locate, retrieve and extract could vary.  I would
also like to take this opportunity to explain to you a public authority's
right to aggregate requests of a similar nature from an applicant. Section
12(4) of the Act explains that requests from the same person asking for
the same or substantially similar information can be aggregated for cost
purposes.  Therefore, if you were to submit a separate request asking for
this information from each borough, we would be within our rights to
aggregate these requests.  This is set out in Section 5 of The Freedom of
Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations
2004.  You would need to leave a 'reasonable' period between submitting
such requests, which is '60 consecutive working days'.
Regarding the electronic search system, you could limit your request to
just emails.  However, this in itself would not sufficiently reduce the
amount of time taken to bring it within the cost limit.  Furthermore,
reducing the time period that you are interested in would not impact upon
the time taken to search the systems.  You could provide specific email
addresses that you wished for us to search for (for example, specific
email addresses from those at Whyte & Co.) as this may reduce the amount
of time that it would take to extract the data from the systems and
convert to a suitable format.  Alternatively you could limit the areas
that you wished for us to search for within the MPS (for example, just
SC&O15 or just a specific borough such as Croydon).  However choosing
either of these options is not a guarantee that cost would not again be
engaged, as we unfortunately would not know how long these searches would
actually take unless we started to do them.  However, you would be
informed at the earliest convenience if this was the case.
If you wish to submit a new, narrower request, please let me know and this
can be logged and considered under the Act.  If you have any difficulty in
doing so, please do not hesitate to contact me for further assistance.
COMPLAINT RIGHTS
If you are dissatisfied with this response please read the attached paper
entitled Complaint Rights which explains how to contact the Information
Commissioner with your complaint.
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.
Yours sincerely

S. Stroud
FOIA Quality and Assurance Advisor
COMPLAINT RIGHTS
Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?
You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.
Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  
Complaint
If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.
Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:
FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]
In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner
After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.
For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

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NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Gadawodd geoff kelly anodiad ()

If as you say,The amount of correspondence between Mps and WHYTE & CO must be enormous...Why would this be when whyte & co is not and hopefully will never be a provider to the Mps...strange!!

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