Number of complaints against Superintendent Amanda Bell - Head of Professional Standards - during previous 12 months .... Martin McGartland request

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

Martin McGartland

23 July 2019

Dear Cambridgeshire Constabulary,

Under FOIA 2000 I would like to know;

How many complaints - Both Recorded & Unrecorded - have been made against Head of Professional Standards, Superintendent Amanda Bell, during the previous 12 months ?

Yours faithfully,

Martin McGartland

no-reply@bch.ecase.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Team, Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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    Cambs Response FOI2019 04734.rtf

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Dear Martin McGartland,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 23rd
July.

Yours sincerely,
James Cooper

Martin McGartland

Martin McGartland

02 August 2019

Dear Info PSD,

Re: Cover Up

I am replying to your reply (copied / pasted at foot of this message) in which your force, PSD. Ms Amanda Bell are using the Lie that my request is vexatious.

That this (below) - your force's abuse of FOIA - is the real abuse of the Law, to cover up information that the public have a right to know. What is it that you, your force, Ms Bell (Head of PSD) have to fear, hide. I asked under FOIA for;

'How many complaints - Both Recorded & Unrecorded - have been made against Head of Professional Standards, Superintendent Amanda Bell, during the previous 12 months' ?

How can that be regarded as ' vexatious'? The answer is ... it is not. Your force, Ms Bell (as Head of PSD) and the very person who is meant to be holding police officers to account is refusing to supply the public with details / information about complaint/s made against her #CoverUp

I have good reason for requesting such information. I made complaint/s against ACC Paul Fullwood (one of Ms Bell's bosses) back in early May. Ms Bell has been ignoring my emails regarding my complaint/s. She has not supplied me with any update/s regarding my complaint/s against Mr Fullwood (nor regards the 'investigation').

I , as a result, have had to make a complaint against Ms Bell. It would seem that may also be the reason behind this latest breach of FOIA (the law) and for the covering up of information relating to this request.

Your force (including Ms Bell are not above the law) and should not be using, abusing a circumvented exemption (which you know would not be engaged regards this request) to cover up information about complaints against your Head of PSD. The type of information that is in the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Martin McGartland

Your reply - covering up information (from the public) regards all/any complaints made against your Head of PSD Amanda Bell.
James Cooper
Information Rights
Bedfordshire Police Headquarters,
Woburn Road, Kempston,
Bedford, MK43 9AX

Telephone: 01234 842547
Email: [Cambridgeshire Constabulary request email]

2nd August 2019

Our Ref: FOI2019/4368 & FOI2019/04734

By email only to: [FOI #591498 email]

Dear Martin McGartland

REQUEST UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 Ref No: FOI2019/04734

I write in connection with your request for information received on 23rd July. I note you seek access to the following information:

How many complaints - Both Recorded & Unrecorded - have been made against Head of Professional Standards, Superintendent Amanda Bell, during the previous 12 months ?

Response

The Freedom of Information Act was designed to give individuals a greater right of access to official information with the intention of making public bodies more transparent and accountable. Due to the obvious high interest in policing activity, the Police Service attracts large volumes of requests which place huge pressures on smaller teams of individuals charged with ensuring lawful compliance with the Act.

We must collectively use those resources wisely, and principles have been established within the judicial and legislative framework to protect authorities when requests are inappropriate and an improper use of a formal procedure causing disproportionate impact and unjustified levels of disruption, to meet the request.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary are not obliged to comply with your requests referenced above by virtue of Section 14 (1) which states the following;

Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious.

Your requests have all been received within a short period of time, there are multiple questions within each one and the content is similar as they relate to complaints you have about the force. Whilst giving maximum support to individuals genuinely seeking to exercise the right to know, the Commissioner's general approach will be sympathetic towards authorities where requests can be characterised as being part of a campaign for an underlying issue.

The subject areas of your requests have individually affected you and it appears you may be abusing your rights of access to information by using FOI legislation as a means to vent anger in regard to a particular decision that affects you.

FOI legislation is designed to provide opportunities whereby the public can shine a torch on the decision making and workings of a public authority. However, this does not mean that information has to automatically be disclosed. To do so without some thought process would be reckless and likely to breach other relevant legislation. Therefore any requests for information have to be carefully thought through and the relevant exemptions and public interest factors considered.

This is not a simplistic task and whenever a request is received, FOI units have to engage with the information owners, in order to ascertain if the data can be retrieved, as we have a statutory obligation to do so. This immediately places additional workloads and distractions on policing departments whose primary function is to investigate the more complex and serious crimes faced by the force.

Post that activity, FOI units also have to engage with the various stakeholders in disclosure. Again, due to the subject area this is likely to be senior detectives and persistent engagement on the same subject due to numerous requests over a short time period begins to impact on their core functions. It is also impactive on FOI units, who are usually operating at maximum capacity in terms of having to service the ever growing number of other requests we receive.

Our standard practice though, as has been followed for your past requests, is that such a burden is seen as necessary in order to service our statutory obligations under FOI. It is therefore rare that any request would be immediately refused under S14, simply because it was complex or required extensive information retrieval and or consultation. Therefore, the decision to apply the Section 14(1) vexatious request exemption has been made due to the frequent correspondence over the same issue with yourself and also the overlapping of requests before we as a public authority have had chance to deal with earlier enquiries. This letter acts as a refusal notice.

Please be advised that any future requests on this subject matter will not be responded to.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter please do not hesitate to contact me quoting the above reference number.

Yours sincerely

James Cooper
Information Rights