Dear Essex Police and Crime Commissioner,
I have asked a police officer who investigated an incident between myself and a neighbour for all information in relation to the matter to be disclosed to me under the Freedom of information Act 2000.
The matter is to be heard in court and I have asked for specific and relevant details to be provided but the officer just directed me to this site.
How do I obtain the relevant information I need to take to court with me?
Ms L Hall
Before I come to the formal FOIA decision in relation to your request for
information, I would like to begin by providing you with a little in the
way of background information as to what this department does and what
obligations the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places upon Essex
Police. This may help to put into context the response to your request.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
This piece of legislation allows any person the right to request access to
recorded information held by a public authority such as Essex Police
(recorded information can be held in hard copy, electronic or audio /
visual formats). An applicant must submit a request in writing, include a
name and address for correspondence and specify in detail what piece of
information is required. The public authority has twenty working days in
which to respond (although this can be extended in certain circumstances).
If it is anticipated that the time spent to locate and collate the
information required will exceed 18 hours’ worth of work, the request can
be rejected on the basis that the request would be too costly to process.
Information will be provided to the applicant subject to the application
of exemption criteria – exemptions are reasons contained within the Act
which protect certain kinds of information from disclosure.
A disclosure made under FOIA legislation is in effect a disclosure to the
world – the information released has been done so in the knowledge that it
is suitable for the public domain. The legislation is both applicant and
purpose blind; any person can make a request without having to provide the
reason why they are making the request.
As highlighted on our website here:
legislation is intended to promote openness and accountability in public
authorities. However, this openness relates more to information about the
authority and its workings than it does to individuals who have been in
contact with that authority, particularly where such information may
relate to allegations of criminal actions and proceedings. This is
especially the case when the public authority in question is a police
force, as the majority of personal information that we hold is sensitive
Under section 1, (Part 1) of the FOIA an authority is obliged to:
1. Confirm or deny that the information sought is held; unless in
doing so it is releasing information which in itself may be subject to an
2. Communicate that information to the applicant.
With this in mind I would like to respond to your request under FOIA as
Request for information
I have asked a police officer who investigated an incident between myself
and a neighbour for all information in relation to the matter to be
disclosed to me under the Freedom of information Act 2000.
The matter is to be heard in court and I have asked for specific and
relevant details to be provided but the officer just directed me to this
How do I obtain the relevant information I need to take to court with me?
This response acts as a standard refusal notice to confirm or deny that
Essex Police hold any information that relates to the individual specified
in your request, by virtue of the exemption at section 40(5)(a) & (b) of
the FOI Act, which concerns personal information. The relevant subsections
of the Act and explanatory notes are included at the close of this e-mail
for your reference.
However, this should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the
information you have requested exists or does not exist
When an individual is requesting information about themselves, this is
absolutely exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act. That individual may
request information about themselves under the subject access provisions
of section 7 of the Data Protection Act. However, the organisation that
holds the information does not have to comply with the request until they
have received any information they reasonably require to confirm the
identity of the applicant. For this reason a request by e-mail alone will
not be sufficient.
The above really confirms that the Freedom of Information Act is not the
appropriate way to request your personal information as it then is deemed
to be in the public domain - something I am sure you would not want to
As mentioned earlier you do however have a legal right to request access
to information pertaining to your personal data (information which
identifies you as a living individual) through the subject access
provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Essex Police has devised
a standard form to facilitate this process (A95) which requires an
applicant to formally put in writing what information they are seeking
access to and to return it to us together with the standard fee of £10 and
suitable identification. Information which the applicant is entitled to
receive under the DPA will be sent within a 40 day time period.
It is important to point out that disclosure is subject to the application
of exemption criteria (for example personal data will not be disclosed if
it is contained within an ongoing criminal investigation) and will not
necessarily provide third party personal data, including details of calls
made by third parties, unless it is considered reasonable to do so, or
consent from that third party has been received.
The following link explains the process and I have attached a form A95 for
your use if required.
Finally if a full un-redacted disclosure is required, or your neighbours
data, Essex Police would require an order from a court to compel
I hope this is of use.
Section 40 (Personal Information)
(5)The duty to confirm or deny—
(a) does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were
held by the public authority would be) exempt information by virtue of
subsection (1), and
(b) does not arise in relation to other information if or to the
extent that either—
(i) the giving to a member of the public of the confirmation or denial
that would have to be given to comply with section 1(1)(a) would (apart
from this Act) contravene any of the data protection principles or
section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 or would do so if the
exemptions in section 33A(1) of that Act were disregarded
(ii)by virtue of any provision of Part IV of the Data Protection Act 1998
the information is exempt from section 7(1)(a) of that Act (data subject’s
right to be informed whether personal data are being processed).
1) Personal data of the applicant
Subsection (1) as referred to above in section 40(5) subsection (a)
relates to personal data of which the applicant is the data subject.
2) The public interest
Section 40(5) is a qualified exemption, which requires that a public
interest test be considered. Essex Police has determined that the public
interest in protecting the rights of data subjects by refusing to confirm
or deny that the information is held significantly outweighs any public
interest in confirming to the wider world that information exists, which
in this case is minimal or absent. This test should not be taken as
evidence that information does or does not exist.
Information Officer (Mon – Tues)
Senior Information Officer (Wed – Fri)
Data Protection & Freedom of Information
Essex Police Headquarters
PO Box 2, Springfield, Chelmsford, CM2 6DA
Internal extension 150044
External Dial 101 then ext.150044
Data Protection / FOI Team direct dial: 01245 452647
Fax: 01245 452256 Internal 150045
Email : [email address]
Personal email: [email address]
Office hours: Mon-Thur 8:00 - 16:00, Fri 8:00 - 15:30
Dear Ms Hall,
We acknowledge the receipt of your Freedom of Information (FOI) request
dated 19 August 2016, which has been recorded in accordance with our
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner does not hold the
information you have requested but it may be held by Essex Police.
FOI legislation allows for the transfer of FOI requests with the agreement
of the applicant but rather than delay your request, and create more work
for you in providing that agreement, we have transferred your request in
the expectation you will be happy for that transfer to take place in an
effort to answer your question (s).
I hope that is in accordance with your wishes but please let us know if
you do not wish that transfer to take place.
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex
3 Hoffmanns Way | Chelmsford | Essex CM1 1GU | T: 01245 291600 | Internal:
Email: [Essex PCC request email]
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