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FPNs referred to court

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Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Per the information posted at https://www.wirral.gov.uk/environmental-... I notice the figures for “cases referred for prosecution” and “written off/cancelled” are missing for Aug – Dec 2018 inclusive. Can you please provide these figures.
There appears to be a mistake in the FPN numbers published for November and December 2017 – I find it highly unlikely the figures for every offence would be identical for 2 consecutive months. Can you please update this information with the correct figures.
The information that is provided reveals the following:
Since the first contract commenced in Aug 2015, up to and including the most recent figures published for Jan 2019, there have been 31997 FPNs issued. Of these at least 8306 (plus the missing 5 months figures) have had cases prepared for court. For these 8306 (plus the missing months) can you please provide the following information:
How many were paid by the alleged offender between preparation of the file and a court date.
How many were dropped by WBC/Kingdom between preparation of the file and a court date.
How many of the 8306 (plus the missing 5 months) made it to court?
Of the total number of cases that made it to court, how many:
Were found guilty in their absence.
Were found innocent in their absence.
Attended court and were found guilty.
Attended court and were found innocent.
Of those that were found guilty in their absence, how many made statutory declaration and had the case returned to court? Of those that made stat decs, how many then had their cases overturned?
Many thanks for your assistance in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Claire Davidson

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Ms Claire Davidson

 

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information
Act.   In which you asked:

 

Per the information posted at
https://www.wirral.gov.uk/environmental-...
I notice the figures for “cases referred for prosecution” and “written
off/cancelled” are missing for Aug – Dec 2018 inclusive. Can you please
provide these figures.

There appears to be a mistake in the FPN numbers published for November
and December 2017 – I find it highly unlikely the figures for every
offence would be identical for 2 consecutive months. Can you please update
this information with the correct figures.

The information that is provided reveals the following:

Since the first contract commenced in Aug 2015, up to and including the
most recent figures published for Jan 2019, there have been 31997 FPNs
issued. Of these at least 8306 (plus the missing 5 months figures) have
had cases prepared for court. For these 8306 (plus the missing months) can
you please provide the following information:

How many were paid by the alleged offender between preparation of the file
and a court date.

How many were dropped by WBC/Kingdom between preparation of the file and a
court date.

How many of the 8306 (plus the missing 5 months) made it to court?

Of the total number of cases that made it to court, how many:

Were found guilty in their absence.

Were found innocent in their absence.

Attended court and were found guilty.

Attended court and were found innocent.

Of those that were found guilty in their absence, how many made statutory
declaration and had the case returned to court? Of those that made stat
decs, how many then had their cases overturned?

 

 

Response

Wirral Council can confirm that the information published on our website
was incomplete, this information is currently being updated and will
available to view on our publication scheme [1]www.wirral.gov.uk

as soon as possible, however we thank you for bringing this matter to our
attention. Nevertheless the Council must therefore give consideration to
Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, ‘information intended
for future publication’ in relation to your request.

 

Section 22 is a qualified, class-based exemption and is therefore subject
to a public interest test. The legislation states that a definitive date
for publication does not need to be set, but that the public body should
be in receipt of the information and have a settled intention to release
it into the public domain.

The Information Commissioner’s guidance on Section 22 can be found at
[2]this link.

 

Therefore we are unable to commit to scrutinising the volume of databases
in response to your queries.  The publication of this data is a large
exercise that involves a significant amount of resources to extract
information from various databases.  In the Council’s view it would not be
fair on officers to ask them to carry out additional work in addition to
this, nor would it be fair to provide the information to some requesters
when it has been asked for while stating that other requesters must wait
for the updated dataset to be published.

 

Having concluded that it would be reasonable to withhold the requested
information, the Council must conduct a public interest test.

 

The public interest argument for disclosure is that it allows a greater
degree of scrutiny over how public money is managed, while contributing to
transparency over how decisions have been reached. It is important that
public authorities allow their decisions to be scrutinised by the public
to ensure that funds are managed appropriately.

 

The public interest factors for withholding the information would include
the additional burden on Council officers to provide ad-hoc reports in
response to individual information requests. This is time that would
otherwise be spent fulfilling other professional responsibilities. By
proactively incorporating enforcement data into our Publication Scheme,
the Council is displaying its commitment to openness and transparency.

 

It is the Council’s opinion that the public interest factors in favour of
withholding the requested information outweigh those in favour of
disclosure. This information is thereby considered exempt under Section 22
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

We must also add, in addition to this that the further queries you have
posed, would involve an exercise exceeding the appropriate limit 18.5
hours allowed by the legislation. A manual exercise would therefore need
to be undertaken to read the court documents stored as per court session,
6 – 8 databases per month of average 50 records per database x 12 months x
3 yrs. Therefore in order to provide an accurate and detailed response
 this would be taking Officers over the appropriate limit of 18.5 hours
allowed by the legislation, FOI Act 2000.  The Council has also therefore
relied on section 12 (1) to refuse this request.  Further information
relating to the 18.5 exemption we have relied on is below:

 

 

“Where an authority is not obliged to comply with a request for
information because, under section 12(1) and regulations made under
section 12, the cost of complying would exceed the "appropriate limit"
(i.e. cost threshold) the authority should consider providing an
indication of what, if any, information could be provided within the cost
ceiling. The authority should also consider advising the applicant that by
reforming or re-focusing their request, information may be able to be
supplied for a lower, or no, fee.” 

 

As advised part of your information request will be available to view
following an update at [3]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

 

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
to ask for an internal review of the refusal of any of the information
requested.  Please direct any request for an internal review to
[4][Wirral Borough Council request email] and your request will be allocated for
review.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of an internal review you also
have the right to complain to the information Commissioner,
[5]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

 

Your sincerely,

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Business Management

Treasury Building

Argyle Street

Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH

[6]Tel:0151 691 8397

[7][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

 

 

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References

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