Operation Lapmoor

Neil Wilby made this Freedom of Information request to West Yorkshire Police

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

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, West Yorkshire Police should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear West Yorkshire Police,

Please disclose the following information:

1. Name of Gold Commander, or names of Gold Group.

2. Name of Senior Investigating Officer.

3. Dates upon which they were appointed.

4. Date operational codename requested.

5. Date police operation commenced, concluded.

6. Policy book, or log. Sometimes known as Blue or Gold book.

a. Date of first entry

b. Date of final entry

c. Number of actions

7. Number of officers deployed on the operation.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, West Yorkshire Police

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Mr Wilby,

Thank you for your request for information which has been logged today.

Your request will now be considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to the information not being exempt.

In some circumstances West Yorkshire Police may be unable to achieve this deadline. If this is likely you will be informed at the earliest opportunity.

If you no longer require the information, please inform us at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards
Emily Dawson
Disclosure Officer
Information Management
Tel. 01924 296006

show quoted sections

Dear West Yorkshire Police,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of West Yorkshire Police's handling of my FOI request 'Operation Lapmoor'.

1. Section 10 of the Act requires a response to an information request PROMPTLY 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. Compliance with the College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is a requirement for all police forces. APP reinforces the points made above at paras 1. and 2. It makes clear that the 20th working day is not a target, or a backstop.

4. The instant request is concisely expressed, as one might expect of an experienced FOIA practitioner, and framed in a way that the information sought for disclosure is readily searchable and retrievable.

5. It is, therefore, surprising that a law enforcement agency, such as West Yorkshire Police, is prepared to flout the law in order to avoid timely disclosure.

6. Accordingly, you are urged to finalise this request appropriately, and without further delay.

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

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigate journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, West Yorkshire Police

1 Attachment

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Mr Wilby

 

Please see the attached document in relation to your request.

 

Regarding your earlier request for an Internal Review on timeliness, your
request was received on 11/09/18 therefore the 1^st working day was
12/09/18 making today the 20^th working day.

Please advise if you would like to continue with the Internal Review
request.

 

Thank you

 

Kind regards

Gemma Burton

Disclosure Officer

Information Management

Tel. 01924 296006

 

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Dear West Yorkshire Police (WYP),

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

I am writing to request a second internal review of West Yorkshire Police's handling of my FOI request 'Operation Lapmoor'.

The first internal review has, in effect, now decayed and it is neither necessary, nor proportionate, to pursue it further. Accordingly, other than adopting it as a learning point, please regard it as discontinued.

The point is made, at this early stage, that the finalisation of the instant request is, in my respectful submission, hopelessly misconceived: On the specific facts of this case; the mis-application of the Act; the Information Commissioner's Guidance; legal authorities; and precedent. The readers, and fellow users, of the What Do They Know website - on which this request is posted - should be aware that the precept-paying public of West Yorkshire face a needless outlay of a five figure sum in legal costs, when police resources are vanishingly scarce, if WYP choose to maintain their present 'Neither Confirm Nor Deny' (NCND) position.

The internal reviewer is invited to address the following matters:

1. The information requested for disclosure is uncontroversial and, by way of background to assist the reviewer, forms the basic building blocks for a newspaper/online article, presently in preparation, that concerns unauthorised and/or unlawful surveillance of members of the public, and their own officers, by West Yorkshire Police. It will feature the cases of four members of the public and three police officers who have agreed to participate.

2. Operation Lapmoor was one of those operations. It was conducted, and completed, in 2016, against a serving police constable. It was not a criminal matter. The subject constable was on sick leave, and WYP mounted an investigation, at very considerable expense, to establish little else, other than whether that officer, with a medically-certified temporary disability, was able to walk a dog, or ride a horse.

3. The investigation was, on any independent view, ill-conceived, disproportionate, obsessively-pursued, incompetent and, arguably, discriminatory. For example, on one of the days that the subject officer was covertly surveilled, near her home, she was actually on duty, in uniform, at her police station base. It is respectfully submitted that the NCND position adopted by WYP is a flagrant attempt to cover up large-scale wrongdoing. As such, of itself, it constitutes an abuse of the Act to an extent where section 77 may be engaged.

4. There is enormous public interest in such issues as raised by Operation Lapmoor, as highlighted by blanket press, and television, coverage of recent Investigatory Powers Tribunal hearings involving Cleveland Police and the Metropolitan Police Service. There was also blanket media coverage when it became apparent that a police helicopter was used for 'sex spying' on naked, or near-naked females. It is alleged that in the course of the Operation Lapmoor investigation, a police helicopter was unlawfully tasked by WYP's Professional Standards Department with spying on one of its own temporarily disabled officers. For the avoidance of doubt, both the force and the National Police Air Service has denied such activity took place.

5. If disclosure of the requested information is not made to the wider world then, as with so many issues involving the police service in the United Kingdom, the thrust of the story becomes the 'cover-up' rather than any alleged (or actual) misdemeanour that preceded it. The resulting harm, and loss of public confidence in the police, is usually, and understandably, very considerable. Regrettably, WYP is a force that has a significant amount of 'previous' to take into account in this regard. The internal reviewer, if she or he is properly independent, should also have that in mind, also.

6. The article referred to at para 1 above will name some of the officers known to have been involved .

7. The article will speculate, perfectly reasonably, given the information known from other sources, that DCC John Robins was Gold Commander of Operation Lapmoor, D/Supt Simon Bottomley was SIO and DI Grant Stead was the OIC. Other officers named in the article, and known to have been involved in Operation Lapmoor, will include D/Sgt Stuart Bainbridge and DC Iain Harper. It will also reference this information request where provision of some of that information has been refused. No implication of alleged of misconduct should be taken against any officer named in this particular paragraph, or from the matters set out at para 3 above. That will be left for the proposed newspaper article to set out, and substantiate, should any allegation of wrongdoing, by way of Police (Misconduct) Regulations or the College of Policing's Code of Ethics, be capable of proof to the civil standard (balance of probabilities).

8. This is not an exhaustive list of all officers involved in Operation Lapmoor, but gives the wider readership of both of the What Do They Know website, and the article, when published, an insight into the scope of the investigation and the extensive resources deployed on what some may, quite fairly, characterise as a 'witch-hunt'. More crucially, as far as the Freedom of Information Act, and this request, is concerned, it is most strongly, but respectfully, submitted that this is another reason why WYP seek to rely on NCND.

9. The article will also explore a specific misdemeanour of one of those officers referred to at para 7 above, and the disciplinary finding (words of advice) against that officer. Again, it is respectfully, but with some force, submitted that the need of WYP to keep these matters out of the public eye is yet another driving force behind the NCND exemptions, in the instant request, and the reviewer is invited to take that fully into account.

9. Operation Lapmoor has spawned a civil court claim in which the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police is defendant and the subject constable is claimant. Any member of the public can attend at Wakefield County Court, where one hearing of the claim has already taken place in public, and obtain a copy of the claim form, and the pleadings of both parties, on payment of a copying fee. The case is expected to be widely reported at the time of the final hearing in January, 2019. Whilst it is accepted that disclosure in one place does not necessarily lead to disclosure under the Act, in the instant request it is a factor carrying some weight in favour. It also, it is respectfully submitted, undermines the NCND position as Lapmoor is now, in effect, in the public domain.

10. The internal reviewer may also concern her/his self with the searches made, and the business areas of WYP that were approached for disclosure, and the resultant rationale that underpinned the NCND formulation and the reliance, in a broad and unparticularised way, on sections 30, 31 and 40(5) of the Act. It is respectfully submitted that the decision not to disclose was made first, and then the exemptions applied afterwards. The paucity of the arguments supporting the NCND tend to support that hypothesis. An extension to that same hypothesis, that the reviewer is invited to assess, is that the exemptions referred to were applied by the disclosure officer without reading the documents within the scope of the request. The reviewer, in the interests of openness and transparency, much vaunted by the present WYP chief constable, should give consideration to disclosing, as part of her/his decision on this request, the internal communications concerning this request from its receipt to the finalisation.

11. Over the past two years I have made many requests - all visible here on the What Do They Know Website - to policing bodies concerning investigations of such a size, and class, that they warranted the application for an operational codename (Cabin, Essence, Hyson, Lamp, Redhill, Resolve, Rome). Four were to WYP (Posehaven, Wealdpark, Barium, Pitonstoke). None of the finalisations to those requests, all of which resulted in full or partial disclosure, relied on NCND exemptions. Five of those were murder, or manslaughter, investigations. The internal reviewer is invited to set those finalisations into context with Lapmoor's NCND exemptions.

12. In 2015, former Deputy Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, David Crompton, told the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee, in an evidence session that was televised, that if a police force responds to an information (or press) request with "NCND" then it means "Yes, we have the information". Whilst that can play no significant part in the final determination of the instant request it might assist the reviewer as a guide in assessing the weight of the public perceptions in these matters, and the balancing test that follows.

13. Only yesterday (10th October, 2018), the Manchester Evening News cpublished a news article following the public release of a report by the Counter-terrorism watchdog of an 'astonishingly detailed' day by day account of Operation Manteline. This is the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing in May, 2017.

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/...

Whilst this was released as part of a publication scheme, not an information request, it seriously undermines WYP's position in respect of Operation Lapmoor, which was utterly trivial, taken in comparison to Manteline.

The section 17 notice lists three exemptions. Each is now dealt with in its turn:

14. Section 30 (3) which, by definition, engages subsections (1) and (2).

(i) This is what WYP say in support of their NCND position.

"Factors favouring confirmation or denial for Section 30
Confirming or denying whether this specific operation exists may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to assist with investigations and would also promote public trust in providing transparency and demonstrating openness and accountability into where the police focus their investigations. The public are also entitled to know how public funds are spent, particularly in the current economic climate".

"Factors against confirmation or denial for Section 30
Confirming or denying whether Operation Lapmoor exists would disclose what facts may or may not exist in relation to investigations. If doing so would harm an investigation, then it would not be in the public interest to do so. To confirm or deny that this specific Operation exists could potentially risk identifying specific incidents, witnesses and victims, placing public safety at risk and undermining confidence in the Force and its duty of confidentiality."

"Balance test
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law and preventing and detecting crime. Irrespective of whether information is or isn’t held, the ability to deliver effective law enforcement is of paramount importance. Confirming or denying (by citing an exemption or stating no information held) would undoubtedly compromise both investigate processes and the delivery of law enforcement, which, as highlighted, constitutes the core function of the police service. I am satisfied that the balance of public interest lies in maintaining the exclusion of the duty to confirm nor deny whether information is or is not held by West Yorkshire Police.
This should not be taken as conclusive evidence that any information that would meet your request exists or does not exist."

(ii) These are factors that the internal reviewer should take into account when looking at the request afresh and considering section 30.

a. There is an assumption built into FOIA that disclosure of information by public authorities, on request, is in itself of value and in the public interest, in order to promote transparency and accountability in relation to the activities of public authorities. This is particularly true of police forces.
b. What this means is that there is always likely to be some public interest in favour of the disclosure of information under the Act. The strength of that interest, and the strength of the competing interest in maintaining any relevant exemption, must be assessed on a case by case basis. The WYP disclosure officer in the instant request has patently failed to do so.
c. There can also be a public interest in revealing the paucity of information held in relation to a request. For example the absence of entries in a policy book, or the absence of the policy book itself, can of itself be an important matter to reveal. This, to the requester's own knowledge as an investigative journalist, is, regrettably, a recurring theme in WYP investigations.
d. WYP do not identify what harm is likely to occur, or would occur. On any independent view, the harm is confined to damage to the reputation of WYP as an efficient and effective force. There is no conceivable prospect of harm being done to any other present, or future, investigation by disclosure of the requested information in the instant request.
e. First Tier Tribunals have held that there would be a public interest in disclosure if the information showed an “attempt to cover up wrongdoing”. That has not been addressed in the balance test.
f. The reviewer should also consider as part of her assessment (I) the stage this particular investigation has reached (ii) whether, and to what extent, the information is already in the public domain (iii) the significance, or sensitivity, of the information requested and (iii) whether there is any evidence that an investigation or prosecution has not been carried out properly which may be disclosed by the information.

15. Section 31 (3)

(i) This is what WYP say in support of their NCND position.

"Factors favouring confirmation or denial for Section 31
Confirming or denying whether Operation Lapmoor exists would show the public where funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public as they would be more observant in reporting suspicious activity and it would assist them in taking steps to protect themselves and their families.
Factors against confirmation or denial for Section 31
To confirm or deny whether this specific operation exists would be inappropriate as it would reveal the focus of investigative activity. West Yorkshire Police relies on information being supplied by the public. Irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, by applying substantive exemptions would indicate that information is held. Such action would act as a deterrent to the public to provide intelligence to the force which would further undermine public safety, with repercussions that could hinder law enforcement and the prevention or detection of crime."

(ii) These are factors that the internal reviewer should take into account when looking at the request afresh and considering section 31.

(a) Section 31 is engaged only if a prejudice test is satisfied; essentially, if disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice investigation and subsequent enforcement activity.
(b) WYP has not applied a prejudice test.
(c) It is, accordingly and in my respectful submission, entirely improper for WYP to rely on this exemption, absent of prejudice test and may be considered by an independent reviewer as a serious abuse of the Act.

16. Section 40 (5)

(i) This is what WYP say in support of their NCND position.

"Section 40 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case. To give a statement of the reasons why neither confirming nor denying is appropriate in this case would itself involve disclosure of exempt information, therefore under Section 17(4), no explanation can be given. West Yorkshire Police have determined that in all circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exclusion of the duty to neither confirm nor deny outweighs the public interest in confirming whether or not the information is held".

(ii) These are factors that the internal reviewer should take into account when looking at the request afresh and considering section 40(5).

a. Having succeeded in a First Tier Tribunal against the Information Commissioner and North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (EA/2017/0076), on this very exemption, it is a subject about which, inadvertently and most unfortunately, I know I very great deal.

b. Drawing on that wholly depressing experience, in which the ICO and NYPCC later and vainly relied on SIX further exemptions in an attempt to deny disclosure, there is nothing in the threadbare argument advanced in support of the NCND request finalisation that this exemption, absent of specificity, to suggest that section 40(5) could be properly relied upon by WYP.

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

For the avoidance of doubt, no criticism is made, or implied, against the disclosure officer providing the finalisation in this case. Drawing on my extensive experience as a journalist and police complaints advocate, in dealing with a significant number of departments, and officers within WYP, from the chief constable and down through the ranks, over a long period of time, it would seem very likely to me, at least, that the rationale behind the finalisation of the request was made at a high level within the force, and the disclosure officer was simply the messenger.

Nevertheless, I will continue to maintain cordial and professional relationships with all of the Information Rights team, with whom I come into contact, and I remain grateful for the disclosures made to me in other requests, under both this Act and the Data Protection Act, that assist me in pursuing my vocation as a journalist.

Finally, it might be noted, as a learning point, that this internal review request has taken me a considerable amount of time to research, prepare and write up (over 12 hours). It will take an internal reviewer a similar amount of time to assess and provide an outcome (probably 8 to 10 hours would be a reasonable estimate). This is at a time when both my own, and, more crucially, the police force's resources are scarce. If I might, therefore, most respectfully request that greater thought is given to the consequences of providing sub-optimal finalisations to requests of the calibre of this one?

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Freedom of Information, West Yorkshire Police

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Mr Wilby,

Thank you for your request for internal review which has been logged today.

Your request will now be considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act.

Kind regards
Emily Dawson
Disclosure Officer
Information Management
Tel. 01924 296006

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for acknowledging the internal review request (IRR). I am grateful.

I look forward to receiving the outcome next month. Given the unusual amount/nature of grounds covered by the IRR, if WYP require additional time to consider its response, then it would be perfectly reasonable, and proportionate, to agree an extension to the recommended 20 working day limit.

Also, to assist the reviewer, the newspaper/online article referred to in the IRR will be posted here, on the What Do They Know website, soon after it is published.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Dear Freedom of Information,

The 'backstop' date for the internal review request (IRR) was yesterday, 8th November, 2018.

I have heard nothing from WYP since the IRR was acknowledged on 12th October, 2018. No apology, or explanation, has been given for the absence of a finalisation.

Accordingly, the information request has now been referred to the Information Commissioner's Office as a complaint under section 50 of the Act. This, also, imposes a requirement upon WYP to inform the Central Referral Unit at the National Police Chiefs Council.

The Code of Ethics is also engaged, by way of a breach of the College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice at section 2.7.1. Accordingly, a complaint is required to be recorded against the directing mind(s) who are responsible for the delay in responding to the IRR. The working hypothesis is that the two officers would be the current Head of Professional Standards (or his/her delegate) and the Head of Legal Services (or his/her delegate), as this is a controversial matter that will have exercised the minds at a very senior level.

For the avoidance of doubt, this complaint is NOT intended to capture any of the hard-pressed disclosure officers, with whom I have a good working relationship - and very much seek to maintain that status.

The complaint specifically concerns 1. Duties and Responsibilities (Police officers are diligent in the exercise of their duties and responsibilities) and 2. Authority, Respect and Courtesy ((i) Police officers treat members of the public with respect and courtesy. (ii) Police officers do not abuse their powers or authority and respect the rights of all individuals.

May I, therefore, invite you to apss this communication to the Professional Standards Department.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Edward Williams left an annotation ()

Denying a respected journalist his information rights reflects very badly on WYP, particularly when researching a story of obvious public interest.

Looks like 2019 is gonna be a busy year for the Information Rights Tribunal.

Freedom of Information, West Yorkshire Police

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Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Good Morning Mr Wilby,

 

Please see the attached document in response to your request for an
Internal Review of FOI 4397/18.

 

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in providing you with a
response, however your request required an independent assessment and  I
only work part-time hours.

 

Kind Regards

 

Kirsti Kaye

 

Disclosure Officer

West Yorkshire Police Disclosure Unit

PO Box 9, Laburnum Road, Wakefield, WF1 3QP

[1][West Yorkshire Police request email]

 

Working days: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

 

 

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If you have received this in error, please use the reply function to notify us immediately and permanently delete the email and any attachment(s) from your computer or electronic device.

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Booth, Lauren, West Yorkshire Police

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Mr Wilby

 

I will be dealing with your complaint against a West Yorkshire Police
staff member by way of Local Resolution. The matter has been assessed as
suitable for Local Resolution as the allegation you have made, if proven,
would not lead to criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the Police
officer(s) / Police staff concerned.

 

Your complaint relates to the date for your IRR not being completed on
time.

 

The Police staff member subject of your complaint is [Personally identifying material removed].  I
understand that you wish to complain about the Head of Professional
Standards Department and the Head of Legal Services, however neither party
is responsible for the delay in responding to the IRR as neither has any
involvement in the process.  The Head of Information Management will be
contacted for an account in relation to allocations and workloads and the
failure to hit prescribed timescales.

 

I have summarised your complaint to be made up of the following points:

 

1.       You raised a Freedom of Information Internal Review Request (IRR)
on 12^th October 2018 which was acknowledged by the Information Management
Unit.  The IRR timescales prescribe that the information should have been
provided to you on the 8^th November 2018 but you did not receive the
information on this date.

2.       You state that WYP have not responded to you since the IRR was
acknowledged and have not offered an apology or explanation for the
absence of a finalisation.

 

I will take the following actions in order to resolve your complaint:

 

o Identify the staff members involved, make them aware of your complaint
and request their account in relation to it.
o Seek out and examine any other supporting records such as any incident
logs, crime reports, emails exchanged etc.
o Take any appropriate action and provide you with an explanation.  

 

Your complaint reference number is provided above.  Please contact me
within 7 days if the summary of your complaint and the agreed actions are
incorrect. Otherwise I will assume that you agree that this is an accurate
summary of your complaint and will proceed based on the points listed
above.

 

More information about making a complaint to West Yorkshire Police can be
found at:

 

[1]https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/abou...

 

Regards

Lauren

 

PC 12 Booth

 

Professional Standards Department

Service Recovery Team

Western Area

 

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Any views or opinions expressed in this message may not be those of the West Yorkshire Police.

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Dear Lauren,

I am in receipt of your communication dated 15th November, 2018.

For the avoidance of doubt, and for all the reasons set out in the subsequent paragraphs, the summary you have provided and the proposed investigation plan is NOT agreed.

This is the text of the complaint:

"The Code of Ethics is also engaged, by way of a breach of the College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice at section 2.7.1. Accordingly, a complaint is required to be recorded against the directing mind(s) who are responsible for the delay in responding to the IRR. The working hypothesis is that the two officers would be the current Head of Professional Standards (or his/her delegate) and the Head of Legal Services (or his/her delegate), as this is a controversial matter that will have exercised the minds at a very senior level.

For the avoidance of doubt, this complaint is NOT intended to capture any of the hard-pressed disclosure officers, with whom I have a good working relationship - and very much seek to maintain that status".

Before we proceed further, could you please explain which part of the paragraphs above is not sufficiently clear? Particularly, the second of the two.

If WYP's position is that they wish to heap the blame for senior officer failings onto a part-time junior civilian officer then I want no part in the process and the complaint will be withdrawn if that position is maintained.

I will be writing separately to [personal information removed] to let her know my position. A good relationship exists between myself and all those in the disclosure team with whom I come into contact. The intention is, very much, to maintain that.

Could you also explain what enquiries were made, and how you have come to the conclusion that neither the Head of PSD, nor Head of Legal Services was involved in this request? Further, did those enquiries reveal other officers in those departments who were involved in it?

The point is made, again, although slightly differently, that Operation Lapmoor is a highly controversial investigation that is also, quite separately, the subject of civil proceedings (I attended the first case management hearing in my capacity as a journalist). It is, therefore, inconceivable, that a senior officer from PSD and a lawyer from Legal Services has not been in control of this request. The finalisation of the request, such as it is, supports that working hypothesis. Prue Crossland was the instructed lawyer from Legal Services who was at the hearing in Wakefield Civil Justice Centre.

Access to public documents filed at court, together with intelligence from well-placed policing sources inform me, I believe authorititavely, that Supt Simon Bottomley was the most senior PSD officer involved in Lapmoor, still serving in the Department. C/Supt Julie Sykes, Supt Karen Gayles, DCI Grant Stead and DCI Ian Croft were other management rank officers involved in the investigation to varying degrees. The latter two, significantly. D/Sgt Stuart Bainbridge was involved in the surveillance (along with neighbourhood inspector John Rogerson at the very least) and DC Iain Harper did most of the legwork. All these officers were used, together with unauthorised use of a police aircraft, to try and establish if a serving, and vulnerable, female police officer was walking her dog, or riding her horse whilst on certified sick leave.

Every serving, retired or ex-police officer to whom I've spoken about this investigation is either repulsed, or outraged. The same applies to fellow journalists. It may even apply to you, Lauren, now you are better informed.

The refusal to confirm, or deny, that this investigation took place is not, in my respectful and well informed submission, in any way connected to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Or, for that matter, [personal information removed]. It is to protect the reputations of West Yorkshire Police and, particularly, that large group of officers, mentioned above, from public opprobium. There are, also, very specific reasons why WYP must keep officers Gayles, Stead and Croft away from further journalistic scrutiny, that need not form part of your enquiries into this complaint. But, to give a wider view as to where the tentacles of this matter extends, you may wish to peruse this article, published only yesterday: https://wp.me/p6Q3hf-2gV

Mabs Hussain, as you will no doubt be aware, was the Divisional Commander of both the PC under surveillance in Lapmoor, and Karen Gayles. The latter is the serving superintendent, mentioned in the article, who allegedly blew the whistle on C/Supt Hussain (as he was then). She was transferred out of Havertop PS shortly afterwards.

If you are minded to verify all what I have set out in the preceding paragraphs, please be aware that, according to my sources, there is an official Lapmoor file and an 'unofficial' file.

I trust the background information provided assists you in making better informed decisions concerning the disposal of this complaint. Plainly, and at the very least, the severity assessment will have to be revisited in the light of the information provided. You may now conclude that the matter warrants an investigation, rather than local resolution, but that is entirely a matter for you.

The mode of resolution would not unduly trouble me, either way, and, in any event, I will give you every reasonable assistance in procuring a fair, and proportionate, outcome to the single matter in issue: Was information that should have been lawfully disclosed, dishonestly withheld, by one or more officers within PSD and Legal Services, for reasons outwith the Freedom of Information Act?

I look forward to hearing from you.

In the meantime, it would please me greatly if [personal information removed] could be formally notified, together with her head of department, that she is no longer the subject of a public complaint - and the reason why. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Booth, Lauren, West Yorkshire Police

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Mr Wilby

 

Further to my email dated 15 November 2018 and your response of 18
November 2018.

 

I am grateful for you providing the clarity in relation to the nature of
your complaint which I now believe I have a correct understanding which is
copied below in bold and I apologise for any confusion my email caused.  I
can confirm that the following complaint has been recorded:

 

You raised a Freedom of Information, internal review request (IRR) on
12.10.2018 which was acknowledge by Information Management. IRR timescales
prescribe that the information should be provided on 08.11.2018, however,
you did not receive the information on 08.11.2018. 

 

You sent correspondence to Information Management to indicate you had
informed the ICO of this and invited Information Management to pass this
communication to the PSD as accordingly a complaint was required to be
recorded.

 

You raised that a complaint was to be recorded against the directing minds
who are who are responsible for the delay in responding to the IRR.  The
working hypothesis being that the two officers would be the current Head
of PSD (or his/her delegates) and Head of Legal Services (or his/her
delegates) as this is a controversial matter which will have exercised the
minds at a very senior level.

 

You stressed that you did not wish to raise any complaint about any
Disclosure Officers.

 

In order to resolve your complaint, I intend to take the following
actions.

 

1.       Speak with staff within Information Management and any other
Department in order to establish what their involvement was, what action
they took and who they spoke to as part of the IRR.

2.       To establish the involvement of the Head of PSD and Legal
Services.

3.       Take any appropriate action in order to provide you with a full
explanation.

 

I would be grateful if you can confirm my understanding of your complaint
is correct.

 

Regards

Lauren

 

PC 12 Booth

 

Professional Standards Directorate

Service Recovery Team

West Yorkshire Police

 

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Dear Lauren,

I have written to you via my private email address and suggested that we continue our correspondence using that medium. The generic PSD email was copied in, in case I wrongly guessed your WYP address.

What Do They Know is a website that caters for freedom of information requests and, I hope you will agree, not really the place to be conducting open source correspondence about a complaint raised under the Police Reform Act.

Kind regards,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com