Metropolitan Police Peer Review of Greater Manchester Police Professional Standards Board

Neil Wilby made this Freedom of Information request to Greater Manchester Police

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Greater Manchester Police (GMP),

Please disclose, by way of the Freedom of Information Act, the following information:

1. Date of hot debrief given by Supt Gary Randall of Metropolitan Police (Met) and copies of notes taken at that meeting and/or reports made afterwards.

2. Pocket note book, or day book, entries of GMP officers present at debrief that relate to their attendance at/participation in the debrief.

3. Copy of Peer Review Terms of Reference (ToR) agreed between DCC Ian Pilling and DAC Fiona Taylor, together with email and/or letter correspondence between those two officers pertaining to the Peer Review ToR's.

4. Copy of Peer Review report delivered by Met to GMP. If it is intended to rely on any exemptions under the Act then I request that the following information is disclosed pending appeal against such exemption(s).
a. Date of report
b. Date received by GMP
c. Copy of Met's covering letter that accompanied the report.
d. Number of pages that comprise the report, excluding any annex, appendices.

5. Copy of any post-Peer Review report correspondence between DCC Pilling and/or DAC Taylor and Supt Randall.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Greater Manchester Police (GMP),

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Greater Manchester Police's handling of my FOI request 'Metropolitan Police Peer Review of Greater Manchester Police Professional Standards Board.

The grounds for complaint are:

1. Section 10 of the Act requires a response to an information request PROMPLY and, in any event within 20 working days.

2. Section 17 of the Act requires a refusal notice to be served within 20 working days if a public authority seeks to rely on any exemption in order not to disclose the requested information.

3. GMP is plainly in breach of both sections 10 and 17 of the Act. Given the wider history of delayed responses to information requests made by me to GMP, the matters set out above can only be interpreted as deliberate on the part of GMP, and a continuation of a course of conduct designed to vex, harass and annoy a journalist attempting to pursue his vocation.

4. The College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice (APP) reinforces the matters set out at paras 1. and 2 above. Failure of an officer of a police force to comply with APP engages the College of Policing's Code of Ethics. Accordingly, please arrange with the Professional Standards Board of PSB for a conduct complaint to be recorded against the Head of the Information Services Department of GMP. That complaint should address disrespect, discourtesy, neglect of duty, discrimination, harassment.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Greater Manchester Police,

A non-recording appeal was made to the Independent Office of Police Conduct, earlier today, concerning the complaint made against your Head of Dep[artment on 27th September, 2018.

DCC Pilling, as portfolio holder for Professional Standards, was copied into that email.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Greater Manchester Police,

The failure to acknowledge, or respond, to either the information request, or the internal review request, has resulted in a complaint being lodged with the Information Commissioner's Office earlier today.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Greater Manchester Police

3 Attachments

Good morning Neil,

Please find attached GMP’s response to your FOI request. Apologies for the extended delay you’ve experienced in receiving your response. I do hope this hasn’t caused too much of an inconvenience.

Kind regards,

Samantha Markham
Information Compliance and Records Management Unit
Information Services Branch - Business Operations
Greater Manchester Police

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Dear Greater Manchester Police,

Thank you for the delayed response

No blame is attached to the disclosure officers at the 'sharp end', as it were. I am well aware as to where the responsibility for the delay lies: Annette Anderson and Ian Pilling.

An article has been published about the way this request, and a corresponding one made to the Metropolitan Police, has been handled.

https://neilwilby.com/2018/11/11/mystery...

I will be submitting a second internal review of the request, once the first one, dated 27th September, 2018, is finalised. I hope that, in the circumstances, it will be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Greater Manchester Police

Dear Mr Wilby,

Thank you for your email.

Could I please ask, to prevent duplication and to streamline the process, that you please submit your request for a review of this response or let me know by return of email of the grounds for your second review request.

That way, the full review of the request, from the delay you experienced waiting for a response (the subject of your initial review request) to your additional concerns can then be looked into by the same Compliance Officer, at the same time, which would be a more efficient use of our resources.

Thank you in advance.

David

David Kynaston
Information Compliance and Records Management Officer

Information Compliance and Records Management Unit   |   Information Services Branch   |   Greater Manchester Police

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Dear Greater Manchester Police,

I'm very sorry, but that is not how the matter will be dealt with.

You are required to deal with the first internal review, as requested. Then I will submit the second.

That is a proportionate, and efficient, way to deal with matters from my point of view. Whether that works, or not, for GMP is not really a concern. I am the only person not being paid in this fiasco, and, if your force had done their job properly in the first instance, neither internal review would be necessary.

Perhaps your chief constable might consider making a donation to a homeless charity to reflect the time and money he has cost me?

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Greater Manchester Police

Dear Mr Wilby,

I note your initial request for an internal review for this request was sent to GMP on 27th September 2018. At that time GMP had not provided you with a response to your request within the 20 working days stipulated by the Act. A response was subsequently issued to you on 16th November 2018.

As you have now received a response to your request there is nothing further for us to review in terms of your original review request. There is no requirement within the legislation to provide a review for a delayed response.

However, I would like to echo my colleague Samantha's apologies for the extended delay you experienced in receiving our response. This was due to the complex nature of the request, coupled with the extremely high volume of requests GMP are currently dealing with. This was exacerbated by a period of extended sickness by staff within our unit which meant the remaining members of the team faced an even greater workload than usual.

To conclude, we do not feel there is anything further we can do regarding your initial review request and consider this matter finalised. However, should you have concerns regarding the actual disclosure within this FOI please feel free to confirm those by return of email and we will of course carry out a review of those matters.

Kind regards
David

David Kynaston
Information Compliance and Records Management Officer

Information Compliance and Records Management Unit | Information Services Branch | Greater Manchester Police

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Dear Greater Manchester Police,

Your comments and explanations are noted, if not necessarily accepted, in connection with the first internal review. My essential position is that the directing minds concerned with this request have used this request as an opportunity to continue a course of conduct designed only to vex, annoy and harass.

However, in the interests of expediency, and my mental health, we will move on to the second internal review. Any residual issues from the first can be dealt with via the police complaint with which DC 19729 Prince is, purportedly, dealing.

For emphasis, I repeat what was said in my communication of 18th November, 2018 that no blame is attached to hard-pressed disclosure officers whom, invariably, treat me courteously and respectfully. I would also like to record my thanks for the materials disclosed so far. They go a considerable way to satisfying the public interest in what is now a well publicised and highly vexed issue.

The grounds for complaint in the second internal review are as follows. They are framed in a way that will assist the Information Commissioner if the complaint is, ultimately, referred to her:

1. At Question 2 . "Pocket note book, or day book, entries of GMP officers present at debrief that relate to their attendance at/participation in the debrief". The response appears to be capable of interpretation as 'information not held' even though it doesn't say as much. Further, the question of pocket books is not addressed.

2. For the avoidance of doubt, the absence of any notes taken, by any officer present, at such a crucial stage of a hugely important review for GMP, is, in my respectful submission, far-fetched. The alternative to that is, of course, that the hot debrief was a post-facto invention by both GMP and the Met. That proposition is explored in more detail in this article published on 11th November, 2018: https://neilwilby.com/2018/11/11/mystery...

3. The internal reviewer is, therefore, invited to address the matter of how, and where, the searches, and retrieval, of information were conducted. For example, did the disclosure officer satisfy him/herself as to the names, ranks of those present at the hot debrief and independently inspect the relevant notebooks, day books? The point is made, with some force, that if the disclosure officer has simply relied on the officers to say whether, or not, there are notes, then the searches are inadequate and the disclosure requirements of GMP, under the Act, have not been satisfied.

4. I am also mindful of the identity of the officer who has, I am informed by Detective Prince, controlled this request: Annette Anderson. In my own dealings with C/Supt Anderson I found her to be an ineffective, inefficient police officer, promoted, it seems, beyond her ability. Her propensity to 'cover-up' up wrongdoing of colleagues (albeit at the low end of seriousness), during my dealings with her, is deeply troubling in the context of this request. As was her seeming lack of knowledge of the applicable statutory framework. Or, alternatively, an unwillingness to apply it. In that particular matter, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act. It is, for me at least, difficult to contemplate that her approach to requirements of the law, ethics and professionalism has improved so markedly, in less than a year, that the finalisation of this request is entirely within the terms of both the Act and the College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice .

5. At Question 3. "Copy of Peer Review Terms of Reference (ToR) agreed between DCC Ian Pilling and DAC Fiona Taylor, together with email and/or letter correspondence between those two officers pertaining to the Peer Review ToR's". No disclosure has been made. Informed by the response to a request made to the GMP press office on this topic it would seem incredible, to me at least, that no emails were exchanged between the two officers responsible for setting the Terms of Reference. As at para 2 above, the internal reviewer is invited to satisfy her/himself that appropriate searches have been conducted, rather than, for example, simply rely on the word of DCC Pilling. In my own professional experience, and in common with a number of his command team colleagues, past and present, Ian Pilling's name is, regrettably, becoming synonymous with 'cover-up'.

6. Also at Question 3, the internal reviewer is invited to re-consider whether section 40 (2) is correctly applied.

7. At Question 5, for all the reasons rehearsed at para 4 above, the internal reviewer is invited to satisfy her/himself as to whether the appropriate and necessary searches were carried out.

8. Finally, it is requested that the 'File ->Properties' of the document allegedly supplied by the Metropolitan Police to GMP on 22nd December, 2016 are disclosed in full by way of the Act. This may eliminate doubts that now exist in the minds of many, including serving and retired GMP officers, and a growing number of journalists, that the 'Peer Review' is a matter of what some politely term, 'historical revisionism'.

9. For example, it can be seen from the GMP document 'FOI GSA 2335.18' that Samantha Markham was the author, it was created in GMP's Data Protection and Computer Audit Section and last modified on 16th November, 2018. A total of 96 minutes were spent on 20 edits of the document. Which, given the very limited, and mostly formulaic, content might strike the independent observer as worthy of further investigation.

10. It is accepted that GMP can exercise the option of disclosing the 'File -> Properties' information within the internal review finalisation, or treat it as a new request under a different file reference. Given the choice, it would be the former.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Greater Manchester Police

Dear Mr Wilby

Thank you for your email.

Please take this email as acknowledgement of your request for an internal review of your recent FOI request (our ref 2335/18).

Kind regards

Rachael Bigland
Information Compliance & Records Management Unit
Information Services Branch
Greater Manchester Police

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Dear Greater Manchester Police,

The internal review fell due for disposal on 18th November, 2018.

There has been no explanation for any delay.

Accordingly, a section 50 complaint is to be made to the Information Commissioner's Office early next week.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Greater Manchester Police

Good evening Mr Wilby,

Thank you for your email.

I am the Compliance Officer assigned to carry out the internal review of this FOI request. I am currently dealing with a number of FOI reviews and have noted your email below. I apologise for the lack of communication so far with regards to the progress of this review, currently our unit are facing extremely high volumes of requests, not only for Freedom of Information but also other types of work (Subject Access, Deletion of Record requests etc.) all of which have competing deadlines set out in legislation.

I will be in contact further with a full response to my review of your FOI request as soon as possible.

Kind regards
David

David Kynaston
Information Compliance and Records Management Officer

Information Compliance and Records Management Unit   |   Information Services Branch   |   Greater Manchester Police

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Dear Greater Manchester Police,

I am troubled by your latest communication: Analysis of open source material suggests that the number of FoI requests has actually reduced, not increased. May I respectfully invite your reviewer to specifically address this point, evidentially?

It is further, and very deeply, troubling that disclosure from the Metropolitan Police Service about the Peer Review demonstrates quite clearly that GMP's disclosure was, at best, highly flawed and, at worst, dishonestly grounded. Given all that has gone before, and taking into account the routine dissent from scrutiny by senior officers within GMP, one would have to say that, on the balance of probabilities, it is the latter.

That has been exacerbated by the revelation that the Head of Professional Standards personally intervened in a freedom of information request, made in 2017, that sought disclosure of Peer Review data. She further engaged in a conspiracy with a senior MPS officer to deliberately, and calculatingly, subvert the Act. That is now a matter of public record and, on any independent view, a serious matter.

The position is further aggravated by a statement provided to me, by the GMP press office, in connection with the Peer Review, that is deeply flawed and designed only to conceal the identity of a consultant, ex-Cheshire Constabulary Superintendent John Armstrong, used to smooth over troubled waters in GMP's Professional Standards Branch. The subterfuge is necessary because Mr Armstrong is a former police colleague, and friend, of the very person who appointed him: ACC Garry Shewan.

The MPS disclosure, although of itself incomplete, can be viewed at this weblink:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Greater Manchester Police

1 Attachment

Good afternoon Mr Wilby,

Please find attached GMP's response to your request for an internal review of your FOI request.

Regards
David

David Kynaston
Information Compliance and Records Management Officer

Information Compliance and Records Management Unit   |   Information Services Branch   |   Greater Manchester Police
External: 0161 856 4297

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Dear Greater Manchester Police,

It has taken 83 days for GMP to provide a response to an internal review.

The post you have made on this What Do They Know thread is also prima facie libellous and I will be taking appropriate civil action, by way of remedy, against the named author, Mr David Kynaston.

The exemption now relied upon is hopelessly misconceived and viewed as a extension of the vexing, annoying, harassing conduct towards me, about which I have complained to GMP many times.

Further, and in any event, this matter will now be referred to the Information Commissioner's Office for determination - and onward to the First Tier Tribunal if necessary, thereafter.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com