Transparency and process around the documents of public meetings

S Smith made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Cambridgeshire Constabulary

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary Nid oedd gan y wybodaeth y gofynnwyd amdani.

Dear Cambridgeshire Constabulary,

I refer in this request to Meetings of the Scrutiny Committee, detailed here,
http://www.cambs-pa.gov.uk/meetings.cfm?...
primarily the meeting of 13th December 2011, but also the two previous scrutiny committee meetings on 12th September and 24th of May.

This piece may provide the relevant (alternative) background to this question:
http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/thrown-out-of-p...

1. Can you please provide any documentation (memos, notes, papers, etc, including agenda items in other meetings), or discussions (emails, memos etc) in advance of each of the 3 above meetings, concerning the contents of the meeting papers distributed as part of the "public pack", or to be distributed to the Press. I'm explicitly interested in decisions, discussions, or actions that may mean documents are not included, as well as those that are included.

The actual documents discussed that were not made public need not be included in your response, simply enough information to know their rough topic (a title and authorship for example), and any reference you have for those documents to ease a future request for a copy should it be needed.

2. Can you please disclose all emails, memos, minutes, summaries or other discussions/documents from after the closure of the meeting on the 13th relating to what you have described as "eviction" of a "heckler" (see your tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/PACambs/status/14... ). This should include any instructions to press officers about the eviction, and any and all briefings to those not present at the meeting about what happened.

I am not requesting a copy of the minutes of the meeting itself - they will be published in due course so would be exempt anyway.

3. Please also include any discussions, emails, memos (etc) dated in December 2011 about policy on evicting people from public meetings (either generically, or in relation to the 13th meeting).

If you have any queries about detail, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,

S Smith

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Dear S Smith

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 0699/2011

We acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information (FOI) request which
was received by Cambridgeshire Constabulary on 16th December 2011

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. You will receive a response within the statutory
timescale of twenty working days as defined by the Act. In some
circumstances, we may be unable to achieve this deadline. If this is the
case, you will be informed and given a revised time-scale at the earliest
opportunity.

If we require any further clarification regarding this request, you will
be notified.

We would advise you that the nature of certain requests may involve
payment of a fee. If this is the case, you will be notified.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
telephone on 0345 456 456 4 asking for the Information Access Office or
email [Cambridgeshire Constabulary request email]

Regards

Rachel Buckby
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

1 Atodiad

Dear S Smith

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 0699/2011

In reply to your request for information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000, dated 16th December 2011 and received within the constabulary as
follows:

1. Can you please provide any documentation (memos, notes, papers,
etc, including agenda items in other meetings), or discussions
(emails, memos etc) in advance of each of the 3 above meetings,
concerning the contents of the meeting papers distributed as part
of the "public pack", or to be distributed to the Press. I'm
explicitly interested in decisions, discussions, or actions that
may mean documents are not included, as well as those that are
included.

The actual documents discussed that were not made public need not
be included in your response, simply enough information to know
their rough topic (a title and authorship for example), and any
reference you have for those documents to ease a future request for
a copy should it be needed.

2. Can you please disclose all emails, memos, minutes, summaries or
other discussions/documents from after the closure of the meeting
on the 13th relating to what you have described as "eviction" of a
"heckler" (see your tweet:
[1]https://twitter.com/#!/PACambs/status/14... ). This
should include any instructions to press officers about the
eviction, and any and all briefings to those not present at the
meeting about what happened.

I am not requesting a copy of the minutes of the meeting itself -
they will be published in due course so would be exempt anyway.

3. Please also include any discussions, emails, memos (etc) dated
in December 2011 about policy on evicting people from public
meetings (either generically, or in relation to the 13th meeting).

Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act states that a public
authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if the
authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would
exceed the ***appropriate limit***. For Police forces in the UK, the
"appropriate limit" is considered to be up to 18 hours of work on one
request. This information is given in the Freedom of Information (Fees and
Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004.

In respect of the whole of this request, it is difficult to assess the
full cost of retrieving all potential information since the request
encompasses all emails which may relate to the eviction of a heckler.
Since the whole force has read access to the Twitter feed, it is feasible
that any member of staff could have corresponded on this subject in the 2
1/2 days between the event and the writing of your request. It is
appropriate to remind the requestor that any correspondence created after
the receipt of their request would not be covered by it.

It is estimated that it will take more than 29 hours to provide an answer
to this request. This is based on the need to examine the records of all
3500 police officers and police staff over 2 1/2 days and would include
their email accounts; correspondence logs and BlackBerry devices These
records are not contained within a central location, database or server
and could include paper records as well as internal messageboard comments,
text messages, and emails. At an average of 30 seconds to check the
records of each staff member, this would equate to 29 hours of retrieval
time which is in excess of the cost limit.

Since s16 of the Act requires a Public Authority to provide advice and
assistance to the requestor, we would suggest that the requestor considers
reducing the scope of their request to encompass only the relevant senior
officers and staff of the constabulary who would have routine cause to
create correspondence on this subject.

The constabulary is aware that the requestor has submitted the same series
of questions to Cambridgeshire Police Authority.

If you wish to appeal our decisions, please see the attachment below,
which sets out your rights to appeal.

(See attached file: Complaint Rights May-11.pdf)

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact the Information Access Office on telephone number 0345 456 456 4
extension 8164.

Regards

David

David Price
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary
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References

Visible links
1. https://twitter.com/#!/PACambs/status/14...

Gadawodd Winston Smith anodiad ()

This would appear to be a reasonable response - my experience of public authorities is that draft papers are created for meetings then destroyed when approved or the meeting has passed. There has been a big increase in this sort of activity since the advent of the FOIAct; which is a kind of downside to the Act that was not intended.

I would suggest that the PA would be a more likely source of info unless you wanted to find out what the police press people thought of it all. I would imagine that they would have issued advice to press officers etc pretty much immediately as it would attract local newspapers pretty quickly.

Regards WS