Dear Staffordshire Police,

In an open and free society the freedom of the press is important feature.

Investigative journalism is one way in which the government and other public bodies including the police are held to account. There have been many cases where the perseverance of journalists have uncovered inappropriate or in some cases unlawful activities by individuals and public bodies, e.g . The M.P.’s expenses scandal.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000, is a vital piece of information designed to allow the public including investigative journalists to obtain information from public bodies. There have been many examples of public bodies resisting requests made under the FOIA where the information was embarrassing or considered damaging to the reputation of the public body or its officials.

The FOIA provides a number of exemptions to allow public bodies to refuse information requests in certain cases, in such cases the public authority is required to provide detailed ground for the refusal. One such exemption is provided by Section 14 FOIA, this is where a request is considered. “Vexatious “, FOIA states:-

1)Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious.

(2)Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request.

The use of Section 14, by public authorities, particularly in relation to investigative journalists is something which I believe is of great interest to the general public. Therefore I would like to request the following information:-

1. The number of occasions that Staffordshire police refused FOIA requests received from a journalist or recognised media source in 2016 or 2017 (please provide figure by each year) that were initially treated as ‘Vexatious’.

2. An indication in respect of each case shown in no 1 above as to whether either following an internal review or further consideration of the matter, whether Staffordshire Police continued to treat the request as ‘Vexatious’.

3. Copies of the request(s) made listed at 1 above, The names of the individual applicant is not required however an indication of any Newspaper or Media outlet is requested.

4. Copies of Staffordshire Polices notification outlining their grounds for applying S14 FOIA, please include the initial notification and any confirmation letter that may have followed any internal review. Once the names of the individual applicant is not required however an indication of any Newspaper or Media outlet is requested.

5. Where Staffordshire Police subsequently changed their position in respect of any request listed under part 1, please provide copies of the response given in respectof the FOIA original request.

Yours faithfully,

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

Thank you for your FOI request.  You will receive a response in due
course.
Kind regards
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police

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Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please see attached response to your Freedom of Information request.

 

Regards

 

 

Freedom of Information

 

 

OFFICIAL

[1]https://sp-intranet.staffordshire.police...

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

P.O. Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T: Switchboard: 101

 

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for you prompt response to my request.

I have looked through the information provided and I am confused by the material supplied in relation to Q3 for 2016. In answer to Q1 for 2016, your indicate that 21 requests were deemed 'Vexatious', however only 17 requests are included to cover the same period for Q3. If my counting is correct it would suggest that 4 requests have been omitted. I would be grateful if you could clarify this point.

As I indicated within my requests I was not seeking the personal data of the requestors, I did however request the name of the media outlets where appropriate. In your response you have redacted details of the media outlet under the exemption 40(2) FOIA. The DPA act does not define the name of a media outlet as personal data, unless of course naming the media outlet itself is capable of identifying the name of requestor. For this reason I would ask that this point be revisited.

I note that your figures for Q5 suggest that Staffordshire Police did not change its position on any of the requests initially treated as 'Vexatious' in 2017. Could I please ask you to double check the accuracy of that statement in respect of FIO 8332 (i.e. Is the requested still listed and recorded as 'Vexatious').

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson

I apologise for the omission of four of the copies from your above Freedom of Information request. I have supplied these in the attached document.

With regard to the two further points you raise - are you requesting an internal review?

Regards

Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police HQ
PO Box 3167
Stafford
ST16 9JZ
T: Switchboard 101
E: [Staffordshire Police request email]

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for the missing documents. Regarding the additional two points I was seeking clarification, I will leave it for you to decide whether that can be done now, or whether you prefer to do it through an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson

In relation to an internal review:

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of your response.

Regards

Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police HQ
PO Box 3167
Stafford
ST16 9JZ
T: Switchboard 101
E: [Staffordshire Police request email]

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your speedy reply. It would seem that Staffordshire Police is not prepared to look into the other points raised without an internal review being specifically requested, so therefore I am now requesting that internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

Thank you for your email. Your previous request (9238) is now being dealt
with as an Internal Review. You will receive a response in due course,
Kind regards
Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police

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Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please see attached response to your recent request for an internal
review.

 

Kind regards,

 

[1]https://sp-intranet.staffordshire.police...

Freedom of Information

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

P.O. Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

E: [2][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

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2. mailto:[Staffordshire Police request email]

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

Due to Staffordshire Police’s decision to continue to withhold the names of ‘Newspapers and Media Outlets’ under the exemption 40(2) Personal Information, this matter has been referred to the Information Commissioner

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

Staffordshire Police are continuing to refuse to name the Media Outlets that have made Freedom of Information requests which Staffordshire Police consider to be Vexatious, therefore I have referred this matter to the Information Commissioner.

dennis fallon left an annotation ()

Please post an annotation update when you have received a response from the ICO. Sadly,public authorities are refusing requests in the knowledge the ICO can barely cope.

Matthew Hall, Staffordshire Police

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please see attached letter and attachment.

 

Kind regards,

 

[1]https://sp-intranet.staffordshire.police...

Freedom of Information

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

P.O. Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

E: [2][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

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References

Visible links
2. mailto:[Staffordshire Police request email]

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please see attached letter and attachment.

 

Kind regards,

 

[1]https://sp-intranet.staffordshire.police...

Freedom of Information

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

P.O. Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

E: [2][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
2. mailto:[Staffordshire Police request email]

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

Following the intervention of the Information Commissioner’s Office, Staffordshire Police have ‘revised’ their position and released the requested information.

In changing their position Staffordshire Police have in effect accepted that their original reliance of statutory exemptions (personal information) was unsustainable and therefore unjustified.

The way in which Staffordshire Police discharges it’s responsibility’s under the FOIA and DPA has been the subject of a ICO audit, which resulted in a lot of recommendations for improvements.

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

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