Dear Ministry of Justice,
My questions refer to security surrounding the Work &
Pensions meeting held on 9th December 2013 at 16:30 in the Wilson room.
According to multiple witnesses (members of the public, mainly physically or mentally disabled) who arrived to observe the above meeting, they were initially met by standard airport and court type security, metal detectors, belongings checked, they were frisked - all pretty much what I would expect.
The public area was off camera (although some public members did appear in view of the camera to find their seats and I did witness one electric wheelchair user briefly on camera).
However the witnesses stated something rather disturbing which wasn't seen on camera which could explain their unusual silence throughout the proceedings. There were several policemen or security guards with machine guns, not pointed down, instead pointing TOWARDS the public area throughout this meeting.
1. Who asked for these guards with machine guns to be
present at this meeting?
2. Who specifically asked for these guards to keep their machine guns pointed toward the public area?
3. Please provide the report which deemed it necessary to have guards with machine guns pointed toward the public during this meeting.
4. Please can you confirm that you hold, and if possible provide the document(s)which state security with machine guns were present in that room throughout those proceedings?
5. Were members of the attending public informed in advance
that they would have to sit with machine guns pointed at them during these proceedings?
My sixth question is only for if you're unable to answer any one of the above questions.
6. Please specify the Government department I should send this FoI request to if you don't hold the above information on any question I ask above.
(For public reference, the meeting can be watched here although the public area and the guards with machine guns are off camera: http://alturl.com/k4sk2 )
Mr Glynne Powell.
Freedom of Information Request
Dear Mr Glynne Powell,
Thank you for your email of 11/12/13, in which you asked for the following
information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):
“My questions refer to security surrounding the Work & Pensions meeting held on
9th December 2013 at 16:30 in the Wilson room.
1. Who asked for these guards with machine guns to be present at this meeting?
2. Who specifically asked for these guards to keep their machine guns pointed
toward the public area?
3. Please provide the report which deemed it necessary to have guards with
machine guns pointed toward the public during this meeting.
4. Please can you confirm that you hold, and if possible provide the
document(s)which state security with machine guns were present in that room
throughout those proceedings?
5. Were members of the attending public informed in advance that they would have
to sit with machine guns pointed at them during these proceedings?
My sixth question is only for if you're unable to answer any one of the above
6. Please specify the Government department I should send this FoI request to if
you don't hold the above information on any question I ask above.”
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
I can confirm that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) does not hold the
information that you have requested. To establish whether the information
was held I conducted a thorough search, and made enquires within the
Ministry of Justice Head Office Department. When assessing whether or not
information was held adequate and reasonable searches for the requested
information were made of:
o Electronic records which would have revealed any information held.
o Hardcopy files were checked.
o Checks were made with policy officials responsible for the issue in
It may help if I clarify that information is not held by MoJ because there
is no legal, or business requirement for MoJ to hold the information being
I have suggested below the public authority which you may wish to direct
your request to because they may hold information as they have the policy
lead/or responsibility for the issue enquired about.
Please be advised that the FOIA does not oblige a public authority to
create information to answer a request if the requested information is not
held. It does not place a duty upon public authorities to answer a
question unless recorded information exists. The FOIA duty is to only
provide the recorded information held.
You can find out more about information held for the purposes of the Act
by reading some guidance points we consider when processing a request for
information, attached at the end of this letter.
However, you may wish to contact the Department of Works and Pensions
(DWP) as they may hold some of the information you have asked for.
You can contact the DWP at the following website:
Alternatively I have provided below, contact details for the Freedom of
Information team: [email address]
You have the right to appeal our decision if you think it is incorrect.
Details can be found in the ‘How to Appeal’ section attached at the end of
You can also view information that the Ministry of Justice has disclosed
in response to previous Freedom of Information requests. Responses are
anonymised and published on our on-line disclosure log which can be found
on the MoJ website:
Data Access & Compliance Unit
Post point 10.34
102 Petty France
E [email address]
How to Appeal
If you are not satisfied with this response, you have the right to an
internal review. The handling of your request will be looked at by someone
who was not responsible for the original case, and they will make a
decision as to whether we answered your request correctly.
If you would like to request a review, please write or send an email to
the Data Access and Compliance Unit within two months of the data of this
letter, at the
Data Access and Compliance Unit (10.34),
Information & Communications Directorate,
Ministry of Justice,
102 Petty France,
E-mail: [email address]
Information Commissioner’s Office
If you remain dissatisfied after an internal review decision, you have the
right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Commissioner
is an independent regulator who has the power to direct us to respond to
your request differently, if he considers that we have handled it
You can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at the following
Information Commissioner’s Office,
Internet address: https://www.ico.gov.uk/Global/contact_us...
EXPLANATION OF INFORMATION HELD FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE ACT
We have provided below additional information for information held for the
purposes of the Freedom of Information Act. We have included some of the
guidance we use when considering requests for information. I hope you find
this information useful.
Is the information 'held' for the purposes of the Act?
A person may request any information 'held' in any recorded form by a
public authority (or held by another on behalf of a public authority).
If the requester is asking for an opinion on an issue or asking for
information that is not already held to be created, this is not a Freedom
of Information Act request.
Information covered by the Act
All recorded information 'held' by a public authority is within the scope
of the Freedom of Information Act. It includes files, letters, emails and
photographs and extends to closed files and archived material.
The right of access applies to information recorded in any form. This
o information that is held electronically (such as on a laptop computer
or an electronic records management system)
o information that is recorded on paper (such as a letter, memorandum or
papers in a file)
o sound and video recordings (such as a CD or videotape)
o hand-written notes or comments, including those written in note pads
or on Post-it notes
Is the information 'held' under the Freedom of Information Act?
'Holding' information includes holding a copy of a record produced or
supplied by someone else. However, if a public authority only holds
information on behalf of someone else, for example a department holding
trade union information on their computer system, then that public
authority may not have to provide the information in response to a Freedom
of Information Act request.
In some cases, it may not be clear whether information which is physically
present on your premises or systems is properly to be regarded as 'held'
by your public authority, for the purposes of the Freedom of Information
Act. Examples include:
o private material brought into the office by ministers or officials
o material belonging to other people or bodies
o trade union material
o constituency material
o material relating to party political matters.
Dear Data Access & Compliance Unit,
Thanks very much for the information you were able to supply.
Mr Glynne Powell.
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