Dear Staffordshire Police,

Earlier this year Staffordshire Police provided a FIO response indicating that a number of officers involved in the investigation into the murder of Kevin Nunes received either Chief Constable or Divisional Commander commendations for their work.

This investigation has attracted a lot of public interest following the Royal Court of Justice overturning the convictions of five men convicted of the murder. Cited in the court judgement was a management review report referred to as the 'Costello Report', that had not been disclosed during the original trial.

Following the decision of the appeal court, the IPCC launched a managed investigation referred to as Operation Kalmia. The investigation looked into the conduct of a number of officers involved in the case, 14 officers were notified that they were directly under investigation.

It would appear that some of the 14 officers investigated by the IPCC, and who featured in the Costello Report, may have also received Staffordshire Police commendations for their part in the original murder investigation. The previous FIO responses from Staffordshire Police also suggest that some of the commendations were actually awarded by Det. Chief Supt Costello, the author of the controversial 'Costello Report'.

I would like to request the following information.

1. The number of officers from the 14 officers directly investigated by Operation Kalmia that received either a Chief Constable or Divisional Commander commendation.

2. The detailed 'citation' wording each of the commendation given to officers directly investigated by Operation Kalmia. (By citation, I mean the wording of the commendation that clearly indicates what personal quality or conduct is being commended)

3. An indication in respect of each commendation as to whether that officer was subsequently disciplined (formally or informally) following Operation Kalmia.

4. An indication in respect of each commendation as whether following Operation Kalmia disciplinary action was recommended or in respect of retired officers, or that an indication that disciplinary action would have been recommended had the officer still been serving.

Yours faithfully,

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

Thank you for your FOI request.  You will receive a response in due
course.
Regards
Tracey Brindley
Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police HQ
PO Box 3167
Stafford
ST16 9JZ
T:  Switchboard 101
T:  Direct dial 01785 232195
E:  [Staffordshire Police request email]

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Dear Staffordshire Police,

A month as now elapsed without this request being dealt with, therefore it is outside the usual timescales set by the FIO Act, I would be grateful if you could update me regarding the progress of my request.

Yours faithfully,

Mr L. Anderson

Dear Staffordshire Police,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Staffordshire Police's handling of my FOI request 'Operation Kalmia - Commendation Citations ]

This FIO was made on the 10th November 2016.

The request was not dealt with within the specified period set under the Act, so on the 10 December 2016, I wrote requesting an update., I have not received any reply.

Staffordshire Police are now well outside the timescales and the failure to deal with my request or respond with an explanation for the delay is unacceptable.

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

Yours faithfully,

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

Thank you for your request for an internal review. You will receive a
response in due course.
Kind Regards
Darius Sanghori
Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police

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Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

 

Dear Mr Anderson

 

Please see attached response to your Freedom of Information request.

 

I apologise for the delay.

 

Regards

 

Tracey Brindley

Freedom of Information Decision Maker

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

PO Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T:  Switchboard 101

T:  Direct dial 01785 232195

E:  [1][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

 

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References

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

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Apologies for the delay in responding to your Internal review. Please see
attached response.

 

Regards

Darius Sanghori

 

OFFICIAL

 

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

P.O. Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T:switchboard 101

T:direct dial 01785 232195

E:[Staffordshire Police request email]

 

show quoted sections

Dear Staffordshire Police,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Staffordshire Police's handling of my FOI request 'Operation Kalmia - Commendation Citations'.

First can I thank you for the response to both my request made under the FIO Act and for the internal review.

In respect of the acknowledge that Staffordshire Police breached Section 10 of the FIO Act by failing to respond with the time scales specified, I note that the reason given by the delay was the increase in requests received since my request was made.

Whilst I understand that fluctuations in the workload can result in delays, in my experience this reason is cited all so often that if it is true, Staffordshire Police need to consider whether it is allocating the correct level of resource to allow it to meet it statutory obligations under the act.

The decision to refuse to provide the citation wording on the grounds that it is exempt under Section 40 (Personal Information) is in my opinion deeply flawed. Whilst I accept that the name of the officer may well appear in the citation, this is easily protected by redaction. I feel that the suggestion that because a copy of a commendation is stored within the officer's personal file some how makes it "Personal Information" under Section 40, is incorrect.

As a retired police officer I am well aware that commendations are a way to recognise the good work of officers and staff and are usually given during a public ceremony with details of the 'citation' together with photographs being released to the local media. So what is it that makes these 'citations' so sensitive in this particular case?

In this case the Divisional Commanders were given by Supt. Costello, the author of the recently released "Costello Report", the high controversial document the disclosure of which to the Court of Appeal led to the acquittal of five men for the murder of Kevin Nunes.

Clearly, as it now appears that some of the officers mentioned within that damning report were then 'commended' by the author of the report, for their work in connection with the same case, the public will be rightly interested to learn why; i.e was Staffordshire Police in truth supportive of the questionable conduct of these officers. The wording of the citations is therefore very important and it is in the public interest to release it.

In respect of whether individuals that received commendations from either Supt. Costello or from Chief Constable Chris Simms, were later implicated in the IPCC managed investigation known as 'Operation Kalmia', the public will be interested in whether those receiving commendations were considered to have a case to answer under the Police Disciplinary system under the recommendations made following the investigation.

Staffordshire Police suggest in their response that the information required to answer to this point in my request "belongs' to the IPCC. Again I feel that this explanation is incorrect and amounts to prevarication by Staffordshire Police.

At the conclusion of Operation Kalmia, each of the Police Force's involved i.e. Staffordshire and other forces that individual officer had moved to were provided with a copy of the IPCC's final report, in fact they were asked to consider and implement the findings. There is no suggestion that Staffordshire Police do no hold the information requested, only a suggestion that they do not 'own' the information.

If my understanding is correct i.e. Staffordshire Police do hold the information requested, then under the act they should either reveal it or cite the exemption and grounds they seek to rely on to withhold it.

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

Yours faithfully,

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson,
Thank you for your request for an internal review of the Freedom of
Information request, log reference 7532; you will receive a response in
due course.
Kind regards,
Roger Randle
Freedom of Information Local Decision Maker
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police

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Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please find attached the response to your internal review of Freedom of
Information request, Log reference 7532.

 

Kind regards,

 

Roger Randle

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

PO BOX 3167

Staffordshire Police

ST16 9JZ

T: Switchboard 101

T: Direct Dial 01785 232195

E: [Staffordshire Police request email]

 

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your correspondence dated 7th March 2017, which sets out Staffordshire Police's internal review decision in respect of the refusal to release the information requested at Point 2:-

..................................................................................................................................................................................
2. The detailed 'citation' wording each of the commendation given to officers directly investigated by Operation Kalmia. (By citation, I mean the wording of the commendation that clearly indicates what personal quality or conduct is being commended)
..................................................................................................................................................................................

I note that your correspondence ends with a notification that if I am still dissatisfied I am entitled to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). I am now considering an appeal to the ICO, however I am aware that FIO applicants should endeavour to resolve any dispute with the public body before referring the matter to the ICO. I am therefore responding to your correspondence directly to give Staffordshire Police the opportunity to reconsider this issue on the grounds set out below.

In refusing point 2. Staffordshire Police cite the exemption of Section 40(2) Personal Information.

In a previous response Staffordshire Police have stated that three officers investigated by Operation Kalmia, were earlier awardedChief Constable or Divisional Commander commendations for their work on the Kevin Nunes murder investigation. It has also been stated that the commendations were actually given by Detective Superintendent Costello (author of the Costello report) and Chief Constable Chris Simms.

FIO responses and other correspondence from the IPCC suggests that the investigating officer Chief Constable Mick Creedon found sufficient grounds to recommend misconduct proceeding against all the above officers, although that was not possible for the officer that had retired.

In the response given by Staffordshire Police they confirm that one of the officers that received a commendation was subject to informal disciplinary action following Operation Kalmia. It was previously confirmed to me in writing that another officer that was to have faced disciplinary action was 'permitted' to retire on ill health ground before facing a misconduct hearing. Whilst I will not name that officer in this reply, I am able to say that the officer concerned was the officer that received the Chief Constable's commendation.

I have never sought the names of the officers receiving commendations, merely the words of he citations as I believe the public have a right to know why Staffordshire Police felt the activities of the commended officers were so outstanding they should be public noted by way of a commendation. In light of the later criticisms and judicial judgements the decision by Staffordshire Police to initially commend the conduct of three officers needs to be looked at closely.

In upholding the original decision in respect of Section 40, Staffordshire Police writes

"Although the details of these commendations may well have been published, the full wording of each would not have been. Each commendation is specific to the individual, containing details of conduct during the operation. Should these commendations be released, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that an individual could deduce which commendation was issued to each officer, thus giving details of that officers conduct. Therefore I am of the opinion that this satisfies the terms of exemption under Section 40 of the Act.

Furthermore the Management Review Report made recommendations but did not warrant any formal misconduct investigation, therefore at this time the public interest does not outweigh an individual’s right to privacy."

My response to the internal review is as follows.

1. I have never requested the name of the officers. The suggestion that reading the wording of the commendation could identify individual officers is in my opinion and using the words of Staffordshire Police "beyond the realms of possibility " . In any case Staffordshire Police should have considered redaction of the citations if they felt it justified rather than a straight refusal.

2. The suggestion that because the management review (Costello Report) did not warrant any formal disciplinary action outweighs any public interest, is in my opinion wrong. The later Court of Appeal judgement which quotes extensively from the Costello Report, and the recommendations arising from Operation Kalmia have drawn significant media and public interest. In the interests of transparency and openness the public should be permitted to look at the whole picture including the commendation citations.

3. In their response Staffordshire Police suggest that although the press are usually invited to commendation ceremonies, the citation wording would not be given. I am sorry to say that the author of statement appears to me to be misinformed, anyone wishing to trawl local newspapers will find media reports of commendations, frequently these reports give details of the citation, the officer's name and often a photograph,, it is a way in which Staffordshire Police showcases good work to the public.

4. In the case of these particular commendation ceremonies, it may be correct to say that the media were not given any details. In fact it is my understanding that the ceremonies were carried in a very discrete or even secret manner with no internal or external press representation, again this is another factor that may increase public interest.

5. My final point is based on advice published on the ICO website which states the following:-

" 10. However, information is not automatically exempt just because it is personal data. Public authorities will need to consider the details of the exemption. Any refusal notice under FOIA or the EIR will need to explain exactly which subsection is engaged,and why. "

I do not feel that the response provided by Staffordshire Police fulfils the criteria set out above.

Should it be that Staffordshire Police is not minded to reconsider this matter please let me know immediately so that I can refer this matter to the ICO for consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson

Thank you for your email. The internal review has been completed and I have no further comment to make at this time.

Regards

Tracey Brindley
Freedom of Information Decision Maker
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police HQ
PO Box 3167
Stafford
ST16 9JZ
T: Switchboard 101
T: Direct dial 01785 232195
E: [Staffordshire Police request email]

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your swift response to my request for a review of the points outlined. I note that Staffordshire Police is not willing to consider this matter further therefore as I explained in my correspondence dated 7th March 2017, I will exercise my rights under the Act to have the matter looked at by the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

Staffordshire Police are not willing to consider this matter any further therefore I have referred the it to the Information Commissioner.

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please our amended version to your Freedom of Information request.

 

Regards

Darius Sanghori

 

OFFICIAL

 

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

P.O. Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T:switchboard 101

T:direct dial 01785 232195

E:[Staffordshire Police request email]

 

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your letter dated 8th August 2017. This request was initially made in November 2016, and due to the position taken by Staffordshire Police on two points i.e. the wording of the Citaitions (this would show Staffordshire Police's attitude towards the officer(s) involved) and following the Operation Kalmia investigation those officer that were initially commended were considered to have breached the Police Conduct Standards.

Following lengthy correspondence including internal reviews this matter was referred to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) back in March 2017. I presume that the change in Staffordshire Police's position in respect of Point 4, is linked to the intervention of the ICO. The latest response by Staffordshire however only responds to the class of Commendation i.e. Divisional Commander of Chief Constables rather than address each of the commendations given as outlined in the request :-

[4. An indication in respect of each commendation as whether following Operation Kalmia disciplinary action was recommended or in respect of retired officers, or that an indication that disciplinary action would have been recommended had the officer still been serving.]

Staffordshire Police have previously cited my requests for internal views and subsequent appeals to the ICO as justification for applying Section 14, FIO Act (Vexatious Request); I trust that Staffordshire Police and other observers will be able to see that my appeals both internal and to the ICO have been necessary to obtain the information that I am lawfully entitled to.

It is my intention to proceed with my appeal to the ICO on the basis that Staffordshire Police have wrongly applied the exemptions in respect of Point 2, and the revised answer in respect of Point 4 does not fully deal with the request made.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

This request has been considered by the ICO and they have issued a Decision Notice in favour of Staffordshire Police, I will be appealing the decision.

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

The ICO have issued a decision notice broadly in favour of Staffordshire Police. I have appealed the matter to the First Tier Tribunal and the matter will be heard February 2017.

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

The First Tier Tribunal date has been moved to the 11 June 2018.

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

This matter was appealed to the First Tier Tribunal, and an oral hearing took place on the 11th June 2018.

Staffordshire Police were legally represented at the hearing by two solicitors, presumably paid for out of the shrinking Staffordshire policing budget .

Having considered the evidence the panel allowed the appeal requiring the Chief Constable to release the requested information. The other parties have 28 days in which to appeal the decision should they wish to.

The Tribunal ruling will in due course be published on their website, Appeal Reference: EA/2017/0213.

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Anderson

 

Please see attached response.  It was originally sent on 08/08/18 but
unfortunately your email address was closed.  After contacting
whatdotheyknow.com they have re-opened your request.

 

Regards

 

 

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

 

Freedom of Information

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

PO Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T:  Switchboard 101

E:  [2][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

 

From: Freedom of Information
Sent: 08 August 2018 14:51
To: '[FOI #370222 email]'
<[FOI #370222 email]>
Subject: FOI request 7532 (EA-2017-0213)

 

 

Dear Mr Anderson

 

Please see attached response.

 

Regards

 

 

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

 

Freedom of Information

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

PO Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T:  Switchboard 101

E:  [4][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

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References

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

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your revised response, and for the redacted citations in respect the two commendations awarded by Det. Supt. Costello. The redacted citation in respect of the third commendation awarded by a Chief Constable Simms does not appear to have been included within your latest response, I would be grateful if you could clarify this point.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson

There are 3 separate citation wordings which have been supplied to you in respect of your original request 7532 where you asked for the 'detailed citation wording' which you defined as 'the wording of the commendation that clearly indicates what personal quality or conduct is being commended'. This information has been supplied.

Regards

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

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your prompt response, in which you suggest that three citation wordings have been provided already.

I have re-read the document provided and it contains 3 paragraphs, the first being an overview of the investigation, the next two paragraphs each begin with the redacted name of the individual being commended and ends with the words “Detective Chief Superintendent Joe Costello is pleased to award his
Divisional Certificate of Commendation to (name redacted). The personal qualities/contribution each of the two officers made is clearly recorded.

It is clear that the document supplied relates solely to the Divivisional Commander’s Commendations given to two of the three officers, the citation wording for the Chief Constable’s Commendation given to the third officer has not been provided. The suggestion that the document provided covers all three officers is clearly not correct, otherwise the redacted details of the third officer, the qualities being recognised and the details of the awarding officer would be included.

The decision of the Tribunal was clear so unless the Chief Constable wishes to appeal the decision the third citation should be provided. I hope that this matter can be satisfactorily resolved at this point without further referrals to the ICO or the Tribunal.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson

The citations have been numbered 1, 2, 3 which shows that these are three separate citations as referred to in log 7532. They are not three separate paragraphs. You requested the wording of the citations and these have been provided. The wording of (2) and (3) does include the name of the individuals which have been redacted. The wording of (1) does not include a name - the name appears at the top of the citation certificate. You requested the citation wording and not a copy of the citation certificate.

Regards

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

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank once again for your prompt reply.

Could I please clarify the nature of the information provided, it appears to be a single document consisting of 3 paragraphs, one apparently providing an overview of the investigation and the second two dealing with two individual officers commended by Det. Chief Superintendent Joe Costello.

Your latest explanation cast some doubt as to whether the information provided is in fact a single document with some redactions, or a prepared list of extracts from the three Commendation Certificates. I would be grateful if you could clarify which of the above is correct.

If it is that case that the information is a merely a list of the citation wordings from the three Commendation Certificates, please explain why the format in paragraph 1 has been shortened or amended to leave out where the officer's name would have been redacted and the awarding officer's details.

The provision of the above clarifications should help to confirm that Staffordshire Police has now complied with the Tribunal's decision and therefore may avoid any further unnecessary referrals in respect of this matter to either the ICO or the Tribunal.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson

Thank you for your email. Your comments have been noted.

Regards

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

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your response which acknowledges the clarifications I sought, unfortunately you reply does not answer either of the two points I sought clarification on. Could you please indicate whether the Chief Constable is going to provide the clarifications or not.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson,
Your email has been passed to me to review, for clarity the Tribunal decision indicated that we should provide you with the answer to your request for;

The detailed 'citation' wording each of the commendation given to officers directly investigated by Operation Kalmia. (By citation, I mean the wording of the commendation that clearly indicates what personal quality or conduct is being commended)

My team have supplied you with what you have asked for and to aid your understanding I have attached a further explanation on the original document. I am at a loss as to what else we can do to assist you and therefore if you feel that we have not complied with the decision of the Tribunal you will have to take the matter up with them.
This concludes our correspondence in regard to this request.
Yours sincerely
Fiona

Fiona CANTRELL
Central Disclosure Unit Manager
 

 
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Cantrell,

Thank you for your latest response and for doing me the courtesy of including your name, that little extra detail adds a welcome professional touch.

I have read the latest response which clarifies the situation and reassures me that important information has not been deliberately omitted. I am grateful to you for addressing the concerns I raised, in doing so you have removed any need for me to make any fresh FOIA request or trouble the Tribunal further, thank you.

Could you please pass my sincere thanks to your colleagues in the Central Disclosure Unit for their efforts in dealing with this and other requests I have made, I do appreciate the difficulties they face in getting through the political and legal obstacles they encounter. Any challenge or appeal I have made is not aimed at staff within the Central Disclosure Unit, or intended to create unnecessary work.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

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