Essex Police Freemasons membership list available to public?

The request was partially successful.

Dear Essex Police,

I have just made this request to the Essex Police and Crime Panel:

"From: P. Smith

28 April 2016

Dear Essex Police and Crime Panel,

Please would you kindly provide any rules, policies, regulations, etc regarding Police or Police and Crime Commissioner membership of secret societies such as the Freemasons, or any associated documentation pertaining to this issue in any recorded form - minutes, agendas, reports, files, letters etc.

If someone stands to be elected as PCC, do they have to declare if they are a member of the Freemasons? Can the PCC be a member of the secretive (and men-only) Freemasons?

Of the current candidates for the post of PCC - please tell us who is a Freemason.
Does any of your documentation reflect a consideration of the effect of this possibility on their election and their ability to do the job without bias?

Please provide any related information to this whole issue in any recorded form.

Many thanks,

Yours faithfully,

P. Smith"

Please would you kindly let me know the policy or guidelines re Essex Police membership of such secret societies?

Do policemen (I only omitting women because they cannot join the Freemasons) have to declare if they are a Freemason or not?
Can they join the Freemasons once a serving officer or serving in another capacity in the Essex Police service?

Please provide any associated information in any recorded form. Agendas, minutes, reports, action plans, letters, files, etc. that are pertinent to this issue.

Shouldn't the Essex voters know if their local representatives are in a secret society with who knows who else?

Many thanks,

Yours faithfully,

P. Smith

Data FOI Essex,

1 Attachment

Thank you for your enquiry which has been logged under the above reference.

Under the Freedom of Information Act we are required to reply within 20 working days. The Act does not specify a limit to the number of information requests a public authority may receive or the number of requests or questions an applicant may submit. However, there are exemptions in the Act that can apply and these include where the cost of complying with the request would extend beyond the reasonable cost limit, (currently 18 hours or £450), or if the request is otherwise manifestly unreasonable in its scope or nature.

Requests that ask a great many questions, or a number of detailed requests submitted at the same time, may make it necessary for Essex Police to refuse the requests wholly or in part. The exemption at s14 may be engaged if the burden on the authority is increased through multiple requests on differing subjects

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has responsibility for providing oversight and guidance for the legislation and they have produced advice for applicants on submitting effective requests. Further information can be found on the Commissioner’s website at www.ico.gov.uk specific information relating to submitting a request can be found at: https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/offici...

While we process your request, please take the time to consider the ICO’s advice and whether you feel it may be beneficial to amend or refine your request. Our team is happy to discuss your request with you and will be able to provide advice as to what kind of information will be available from Essex Police.

Debra Harrington
Information Officer (Wed – Fri)
Data Protection & Freedom of Information
Information Management
Corporate Services
Essex Police Headquarters
PO Box 2, Springfield, Chelmsford, CM2 6DA

Internal extension 150027
External Dial 101 then ext.150027
Data Protection / FOI Team direct dial: 01245 452647
Fax: 01245 452256 Internal 150045
Email : data[Essex Police request email]
Personal email: [email address]
Website: www.essex.police.uk

Working hours: Wed – Fri 8:00 - 16:00,

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Data FOI Essex,

1 Attachment

Thank you for your enquiry which has been logged under the above
reference.

 

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties
on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at
Sec1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a
request is held. The second duty at Sec1(1)(b) is to disclose information
that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon
s17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a)
states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states
(if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

In respect of your enquiry:

Having completed my enquiries I am able to respond as follows:

In respect of Sec1(1)(a) Essex Police does hold some information relating
to your request.

In respect of Sec1(1)(b) I can advise as follows:

Please would you kindly provide any rules, policies, regulations, etc
regarding Police or Police and Crime Commissioner membership of secret
societies such as the Freemasons, or any associated documentation
pertaining to this issue in any recorded form - minutes, agendas, reports,
files, letters etc.

 

If someone stands to be elected as PCC, do they have to declare if they
are a member of the Freemasons? Can the PCC be a member of the secretive
(and men-only) Freemasons?

 

Of the current candidates for the post of PCC - please tell us who is a
Freemason.

Does any of your documentation reflect a consideration of the effect of
this possibility on their election and their ability to do the job without
bias?

 

Please provide any related information to this whole issue in any recorded
form.

 

Please would you kindly let me know the policy or guidelines re Essex
Police membership of such secret societies?

 

Do policemen (I only omitting women because they cannot join the
Freemasons) have to declare if they are a Freemason or not?

Can they join the Freemasons once a serving officer or serving in another
capacity in the Essex Police service?

 

Please provide any associated information in any recorded form. Agendas,
minutes, reports, action plans, letters, files, etc. that are pertinent to
this issue.

 

Essex Police does not hold information relating to the Police & Crime
Commissioner or the candidates.

 

The Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner may be able to help in that
regard but with reference to police officers / staff, membership of the
Freemasons is a personal choice which they are not obliged to declare.
They can join at any time either pre or post serving, there are no rules
or regulations preventing membership.

 

I hope this is of use.

 

Steve Grayton

Information Officer (Mon – Tues)

Senior Information Officer (Wed – Fri)
Data Protection & Freedom of Information
Information Management
Corporate Services
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 : [1]data[Essex Police request email]
Personal email: [2][email address]
Website: [3]www.essex.police.uk

Office hours: Mon-Thur 8:00 - 16:00, Fri 8:00 - 15:30

[4]http://web/departments/mediaandpr/pr/Cre...

 

 

If you require further information or wish to submit a request, please
refer to the information found on the Commissioner’s website regarding
submission of effective requests
[5]https://www.ico.org.uk/for_the_public/of...

 

Your right to complain

 

If you feel your request has not been properly handled, or you are
otherwise dissatisfied with the outcome of your request you have the right
to complain.

 

Complaints should be submitted within 20 working days from the date of
this response and should be addressed to the Senior Information Officer at
the above address or by email to: [6]data[Essex Police request email]

 

We will conduct a review to investigate your complaint and endeavour to
reply within 20 working days.

 

Please explain which aspect of the reply you are not satisfied with, and
if your complaint concerns the decision to apply an exemption it would
assist the review if you would outline why you believe the exemption does
not apply.

               

If you are still dissatisfied following our review, you have the right
under section 50 of the Act to complain directly to the Information
Commissioner. Before considering your complaint, the Information
Commissioner would normally expect you to have exhausted the complaints
procedures provided by Essex Police

 

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF or via [7]https://ico.org.uk/

 

 

 

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Dear Data FOI Essex,

Thank you for your response.

Re: "The Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner may be able to help in that
regard but with reference to police officers / staff, membership of the
Freemasons is a personal choice which they are not obliged to declare.
They can join at any time either pre or post serving, there are no rules
or regulations preventing membership."

Please provide any documents, reports, letters, emails, minutes etc that relate to this statement. Who decided that to be the member of a secret group was OK, another member of the Freemasons?

"Personal choice" would not be allowed if it was for any other sort of secret group, would it? This is an insufficient justification.

It cannot support democracy or equality of opportunity, and is the very opposite of transparency when some members of the police / staff are part of a secret group.

What are the rules and regulations regarding membership of other groups, and regarding other secret societies?

When were these rules laid down? 100 ish years ago?

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

P. Smith

Data FOI Essex,

1 Attachment

To answer you further enquiry I contacted the Head of Employee relations
for Essex Police and am advised as follows:

 

I think it will prove difficult to provide something that proves a
negative.

 

Limitations placed on police officers are set out in police regulations
and determinations; here I think particularly regulation 6  and schedule 1
– the latter defining the extent of the former.

 

Schedule 1 says:

 

ANNEX AA DETERMINATION

FOR SCHEDULE 1

FOR REGULATION 6

RESTRICTIONS ON THE

PRIVATE LIFE OF MEMBERS OF POLICE FORCES

No member of a police force may be a member of any of the following
organisations -

(a) the British National Party;

(b) Combat 18;

(c) the National Front

 

These are the limitations as set out in statute.

 

Generally speaking the need to disclose requires a lawful basis rather
than the other way around.  i.e. there has to be a valid, lawful reason
for the infringement of an individual’s right to family life. Please see
the link below which may be of help:

 

[1]https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/...

 

My only other thoughts are that maybe the electoral commission have
something since the PCC is a publicly elected position.

 

Essex Police will only hold information relating to the restrictions of
membership of any organisation if there are any restrictions. As there are
no restriction in respect of the Freemasons, or any other “secret group”
(using your words), we do not hold the information requested - if there
are no restrictions there will be no information held that can be
released. Details of restrictions imposed on police officers are as above.

 

I have however located the “Guidance for candidates and agents” relating
to the PCC role and it can be found here:
[2]http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__...

 

I regret that I am unable to assist further, and would suggest you contact
the Electoral Commission with regard to the capacity of any individual to
stand as a PCC.

 

Steve Grayton

Information Officer (Mon – Tues)

Senior Information Officer (Wed – Fri)

Data Protection & Freedom of Information

Information Management

Corporate Services

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 : [3]data[Essex Police request email]

Personal email: [4][email address]

Website: [5]www.essex.police.uk

 

Office hours: Mon-Thur 8:00 - 16:00, Fri 8:00 - 15:30

 

 

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Dear Data FOI Essex,

Thank you for your response.

Yours sincerely,

P. Smith