An official description of the Gatwick drone(s), plus witness descriptions

I Hudson made this Freedom of Information request to Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was refused by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dear Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner,

Despite being one of the most significant aviation incidents of all time there has never been a description of the Gatwick drone made public even though Sussex Police promised the media a description would be forthcoming at the time.

Only a vague description which is clearly speculative as it was "believed" rather than evidenced was mentioned in a Tweet of the time: https://twitter.com/sussex_police/status...

This Tweet speculation has stayed the nearest to a description to this day.

1) Can the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner seek an actual official description, it can't be said a drone was seen if it can't be described in any way shape or form, industrial specification isn't even a description. The DfT and CAA have admitted no official description has ever been provided of the supposed drone.
2) Can the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner seek the descriptions given by the 93 credible witnesses so that it's clear how much the visual sightings confirm or conflict with each other?

Yours faithfully,

I Hudson

The Office of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

Thank you for your email to the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC).
All feedback and correspondence is valuable for informing the work that
can be done to ensure a safer Sussex.

 

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Do not contact the OSPCC to report a crime. Instead, please report this to
Sussex Police on either 999 (in an emergency), 101 (for non-emergencies)
or online
([1]https://www.sussex.police.uk/ro/report/o...).
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For complaints: It is the PCC's statutory duty to investigate complaints
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References

Visible links
1. https://www.sussex.police.uk/ro/report/o...
2. http://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/contact-us/...

Graham Kane, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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Dear Mr Hudson

 

Thank you for your further email to the Sussex Police & Crime
Commissioner, Katy Bourne, who has asked me to respond on her behalf.

 

The information you requested about an official description of the drone
at Gatwick Airport in December 2018 and/or any associated witness
statements is not held by the Office of the Sussex Police & Crime
Commissioner, under Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act
2000.

 

Your request for information would be more appropriately addressed to
Sussex Police to respond to. Please resubmit your request by email to:
[1][email address]

 

I hope this information is useful to you and thank you once again for
taking the time to contact the Commissioner.

 

Kind regards

 

GK

 

Graham Kane

Head of Performance

A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ

 

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________________________________________
From:I Hudson
Sent: 22 November 2021 18:33
To: The Office of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner
Subject: Freedom of Information request - An official description of the
Gatwick drone(s), plus witness descriptions

Dear Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner,

Despite being one of the most significant aviation incidents of all time
there has never been a description of the Gatwick drone made public even
though Sussex Police promised the media a description would be forthcoming
at the time.

Only a vague description which is clearly speculative as it was "believed"
rather than evidenced was mentioned in a Tweet of the time:
[9]https://twitter.com/sussex_police/status...

This Tweet speculation has stayed the nearest to a description to this
day.

1) Can the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner seek an actual official
description, it can't be said a drone was seen if it can't be described in
any way shape or form, industrial specification isn't even a description.
The DfT and CAA have admitted no official description has ever been
provided of the supposed drone.
2) Can the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner seek the descriptions
given by the 93 credible witnesses so that it's clear how much the visual
sightings confirm or conflict with each other?

Yours faithfully,

I Hudson

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Dear Graham Kane,

Unfortunately, Sussex Police routinely ignore and deflect from any FOIA about Gatwick there's been at least one ICO ruling against them on this matter.

Even if you can't answer as per the FOIA right now, given £100,000s of Sussex Police budget was spent pursuing a vehicle would it not be responsible for the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner to ask for this information?

How is anyone supposed to report a drone suspected of being the cause of Gatwick without a description of what it looked like? Also is it not prudent to understand given the cost, if anyone saw anything more specific than a light in the sky given the Trebor timeline suggests every single sighting that closed the airport was after sunset.

Please could you confirm if you're able for the public interest to ask Sussex Police to provide a description?

Yours sincerely,

I Hudson

Graham Kane, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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Dear Mr Hudson
 
Thank you for your reply email.
 
The additional questions you have raised request information that is not
held by the OSPCC.
 
As you are already aware, the police investigation into the drone
disruption at Gatwick Airport [in December 2018] has now concluded. Sussex
Police and the other agencies involved in the response have made it clear
that this position will continue to be reassessed should any new
information or evidence be made available that would assist the Force to
identify the individual(s) responsible.
 
The OSPCC is not able to provide you with any further information or
comment in respect of this matter.
 
Kind regards
 
Graham Kane
Head of Performance
A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ
 
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Dear Graham Kane,

I realise as we've discussed that the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne has never sought or been given details on the description of the Gatwick drone. Despite the fact the case is closed, that doesn't mean the event is still not in the public interest to have a better understanding of, nor does it mean transparency suddenly becomes irrelevant.

Just to clarify, your reply suggests that Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne is not prepared to ask Sussex Police to disclose a description of the Gatwick drone, despite the fact her position would allow her to do this? Are you saying her role doesn't allow her to do this or that she is not prepared to?

Section 16 of the FOIA requires a public authority to offer advice and assistance yet the Commissioners office appears to be in a position to assist, given it has an oversight over Sussex Police yet is offering no assistance in this case.

The role of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) must adhere to The Seven Principles of Public Life which include:

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

These are further elaborated here: https://www.apccs.police.uk/media/6000/p...

Given Sussex Police is not adhering to the standards expected by the FOIA legislation, the PCC is failing in its duty to "challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs" and is now being complicit against the following principle:

Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

Could you provide details of where a complaint can be made for a PCC failing in its duty? Please refer this to whoever conducts internal reviews regards section 16.

Yours sincerely,

I Hudson

Mark Streater, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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Dear Mr Hudson
 
I write in respect of your request for an internal review [1 December
2021] following the response you received to a freedom of information
request submitted on 23 November 2021.
 
As you are already aware, the police investigation into the drone
disruption at the Airport has now concluded. This position will continue
to be reassessed should any new information or evidence be made available
that would assist the Force to identify the individual(s) responsible.
 
I am satisfied that the information provided to you was compliant with the
requirements set out under the legislation. If you are not content with
the outcome of your request, you may apply directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a decision. Further information can be
found using the following link: [1]https://ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us
 
Likewise, if you remain dissatisfied with the service you have received
from Sussex Police in relation to your previous requests for information,
you may apply directly to the ICO for a decision using the aforementioned
link.
 
The Sussex Police & Crime Panel has a duty to consider any complaints
against the Sussex PCC. Further information about this process can be
viewed on the Panel’s website through the following link:
[2]https://sussexpcp.gov.uk/contact/complai...
 
Kind regards
 
Mark Streater
Chief Executive Officer
T: 01273 481561
A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ
 
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Dear Mark Streater,

In my request for an internal review, I asked the question which hasn't been answered (you can consider it as a new FOIA if need be) which was simply:

Does Katy Bourne's role as a PCC allow her to ask Sussex Police for the description of the Gatwick drone, or despite having a role of oversight over Sussex Police is there any law or regulation that prevents her from asking for this information?

Please provide a yes she can, or no she can't (with an explanation as to why).

If she can request this information, then please elaborate how under Section 16 of the FOIA your office has offered meaningful assistance. Knowing as I've advised in advance and can evidence that Sussex Police do not answer (or reject) FOIAs to the public on this topic, telling me to ask Sussex Police is not offering assistance but passing the buck.

It's disappointing that since the journalist Samira Shackle highlighted over a year ago that Sussex Police are failing to answer transparently on this topic that the PCC isn't demanding better of them even today.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020...

Given we are talking about a significant amount of money for Operation Trebor, is the public to understand that Katy Bourne sought special grant funding (essentially requesting national tax payer funds) to cover the £790,208 costs of Operation Trebor without even requesting operational details of what resources were used and why, where the operation stands and what evidence is held? Surely the PCC ought to have genuine belief Trebor was an "unexpected and exceptional event" yet seems to have made this judgement without the due diligence of understanding anything about the case. Please correct me if that understanding is wrong.

Your office has admitted on FOIA (FOI 797458) that £790,208 was requested and is seemingly admitting here that no knowledge of the operation has ever been sought or is held.

Yours sincerely,

I Hudson

Graham Kane, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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Dear Mr Hudson
 
Thank you for your reply email to Mark Streater who has asked me to
respond on his behalf.
 
I can confirm that your further request for information has been received
and is currently being processed under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. A response will be provided to you within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days from receipt of your request as
defined by the Act, subject to the information being both available and
not being exempt.
 
Kind regards
 
Graham Kane
Head of Performance
A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ
 
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Mark Streater, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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Dear Mr Hudson
 
Further to your request for information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000, set out below:
 
Does Katy Bourne's role as a PCC allow her to ask Sussex Police for the
description of the Gatwick drone, or despite having a role of oversight
over Sussex Police is there any law or regulation that prevents her from
asking for this information?
 
I can confirm that the information you requested is not held by the Office
of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (OSPCC), under Section 1(1)(a)
of the Act.
 
Further information about the role of the Police & Crime Commissioner can
be viewed through the following link:
[1]https://www.apccs.police.uk/role-of-the-...
 
I would again refer you to my previous response sent to you on 8 December
2021. If you are not content with the outcome of your request, you may
apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a
decision. Further information can be found using the following link:
[2]https://ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us
 
Kind regards
 
Mark Streater
Chief Executive Officer
T: 01273 481561
A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ
 
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____________________________________________
From: Graham Kane
Sent: 09 December 2021 16:01
To: [12][FOI #809892 email]
Subject: Re: FW: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - An
official description of the Gatwick drone(s), plus witness descriptions
 
Dear Mr Hudson
 
Thank you for your reply email to Mark Streater who has asked me to
respond on his behalf.
 
I can confirm that your further request for information has been received
and is currently being processed under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. A response will be provided to you within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days from receipt of your request as
defined by the Act, subject to the information being both available and
not being exempt.
 
Kind regards
 
Graham Kane
Head of Performance
A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ
 
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Dear Mark Streater,

Your reply wasn't clear, are you saying you don't know if Katy has the power in her role to request this question? Or were you simply repeating your response to my previous question?

I am aware of the ICO process but as they already have a workload dealing with Sussex Police I'd rather exhaust avenues with you first before seeking their view.

Yours sincerely,

I Hudson

Graham Kane, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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Dear Mr Hudson
 
Thank you for your reply email to Mark Streater who has asked me to
respond on his behalf.
 
I can confirm that you have been provided with responses outlining the
position of the OSPCC in this respect and the appropriate routes of appeal
should you remain dissatisfied with the service you have received.
 
Please note that no further responses will be provided to you on this
subject matter.
 
Kind regards
 
Graham Kane
Head of Performance
A: Sackville House, Brooks Close, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2FZ
 
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I Hudson left an annotation ()

I have escalated this matter to the ICO, as this body have oversight over Sussex Police and have refused repeatedly to answer if they are able to request the information I'd like the ICO's view.

Given this body have had dealings with the case, including requesting the costs of Operation Trebor from national special grant funding it seems odd to plead ignorance on the basic fundamentals of the case.

Dear Graham Kane,

I note that you've said there will be no more discussion on this topic and will respect that. I will however seek the ICO's view to see that this matter has been dealt with fairly.

As your body has oversight over Sussex Police, has dealt directly with Operation Trebor, even pursuing costs for the police operation I don't believe the Code of Practice under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been fully met.

You've only advised me to contact Sussex Police, knowing in advance they've not assisted on this topic and you've not sought to understand if this stance has changed.

The guidance for transfers says:

If the authority has reason to believe that some or all of the information requested, but
which it does not hold, is held by another public authority, the authority should consider
what would be the most helpful way of assisting the applicant with his or her request.

However, in some cases the authority to which the original request is made may
consider it to be more appropriate to transfer the request to another authority in respect
of the information which it does not hold. In such cases, the authority should consult the
other authority with a view to ascertaining whether it does in fact hold the information
and, if so, whether it is obliged to confirm this under section 1(1) of the Act. If that is the
case, the first authority should proceed to consider transferring the request. A request
(or part of a request) should not be transferred without confirmation by the second
authority that it holds the information, and will confirm as much to the applicant on
receipt of a request.

Yours sincerely,

I Hudson

I Hudson left an annotation ()

ICO Case Reference: IC-146243-K7P5