Operation Sanctio and Operation Pendeford

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

Dear Staffordshire Police,

On the 29th November 2016, the Express and Star ran a story about concerns raised in connection with the above two criminal investigations.

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/crime...

In the article Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker is quoted regarding an independent assessment of the concerns carried out by a senior investigator from a neighbouring force. Following that assessment it would appear that no further action was taken by Staffordshire Police.

The way in which individual police officers behave themselves and the manner in which police forces conduct major investigations is of great interest to the public. It is very important that any concerns regarding wrongdoing are thoroughly investigated in a professional and transparent way. Dealing with any such concerns in an open manner can only reinforce public confidence in the police.

The report that details the findings of the 'independent assessment' of the concerns raised about possible wrongdoing is therefore very important in enabling to the public to reach an informed decision about how Staffordshire Police dealt with the issue.

Under the FIO Act I would like to request:-

1. A copy of the report complied following 'Independent Assessement.
2. Copies of any minutes appended to the report at (1) above.
3. Any letters, emails or other correspondence in which the 'independent Assessment'
referred to at (1) above is mentioned or commented on.

Should you require any clarification please get in touch.

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request, 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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Dear Staffordshire Police,

The statutory response time for responding to this request has elapsed, please update me regarding this matter.

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 Sanctio and Operation Pendeford'.

The statutory time period for responding to FIO requests has elapsed and my request for an update has not been replied to. I would like an internal review into the unacceptable delays in dealing with my request.

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 intenal review of your Freedom of
Information request, 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

2 Attachments

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

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1. mailto:[Staffordshire Police request email]

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 Sanctio and Operation Pendeford'.

Thank you for your recent correspondence which includes a letter outlining the exemptions which Staffordshire Police wish to apply to my FIO request, and a redacted copy of the requested document.

Having reviewed both the letter and redacted document I would like to request an internal review on the grounds stated below.

With the letter of explanation Staffordshire Police cites a number separate exemptions and a general explanation regarding the public interest test. The redaction of the document is done in such a manner that it is impossible to say which exemption is relied upon to justify each particular redaction, it is therefore difficult if not impossible to make a well reasoned argument against any redacted section. I would ask that Staffordshire Police relook at the document and make clear the exemption relied on and relevant grounds for each redaction.

I note that Staffordshire Police cite Section 38(1) Health and Safety, however I cannot find the evidence to justify that exemption .

Staffordshire Police also cite Section 40(2) Personal Information, however there would appear to be some contradiction given the with the document supplied there are a number of officers and individuals that are clearly named, such as:-

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham
Det. Supt. John Armstrong
Asst. Chief Constable Suzette Davenport
Head of Human Resources Caroline Coombe
Acting Deputy Chief Constable Marcus Beale
Chief Constable Mick Creedon
Lord Justice Hooper
Richard Whittam QC
Justice Evans
Ryan Carlington Matthews
Nigel Thomas Brade
Kevin Nunes
Floyd Chester Garfield Dodson
Mr Darren Whitehead
Mr James Burbidge QC

I do not understand why the personal information of the above named persons is any less important than the ones redacted in the document. It is even more confusing that in Para 17 the name of an officer previous named was blanked out, whilst in the same paragraph the name of Caroline Coombe is left in clear. This redaction does not protect the personal information of the individual whose name was redacted it merely makes the document more difficult to follow.

Throughout the document my name has been redacted despite referring to me as "Former Inspector ********", this redaction is again unnecessary and pointless since I have been clearly identified both in the appeal court judgement and various media report. For the sake of clarity I have no reason to wish to hide my involvement in this matter and I consent to be name being left without redaction.

With regards to the remainder of the individuals whose names have been redacted, many of them have now retired so identifying them will not have any impact on future police operations. Many of those referred to were named in the court of appeal document and are therefor easily identifiable by comparing the redacted document with the court judgement. (https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/...)

In Paragraph 4. the name of the IPCC commissioner that I wrote to in January 2012, has been blanked out. This particular person is a high ranking pubic official whose name was listed as being responsible for Operation Kalmia, and the person concerned has issue public statements regarding the Operation. It difficult to see the justification for applying any exemption to this individual.

Within the redacted document there are reference to the Detective Chief Superintendent with the name blanked. I find this redaction curious as since there was only one officer of that in Staffordshire Police at the time it would be easy for anyone to find the name, particular as the officer's comment on the case were published in the newspapers (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnew...).

I feel that attempting to conceal through redaction the two most senior officers involved in the cases under review are unnecessary and pointless given that both have been clearly identified in the press (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...). The same applies to other junior officers that have been named in the press (http://www.expressandstar.com/news/crime...), to try to hide their involvement by blanking their names in the redacted report is pointless.

Redacting the names of an officer who appears multiple times is very confusing for the reader. If the redaction of the name of an officer is justified, can I ask that a reference be used so that the report remains readable. i.e. like in the court of appeal judgement where officers are on occasions referred to by a letter of the alphabet.

Throughout the redacted documents there are references to "****** Book", I am well aware of the word that has been redacted and therefore I am confident that the redaction is unnecessary and an example of excessive redact.

I have not sought to give you an exhaustive list of every point I disagree with, particularly as with clarity regarding which exemption applies I cannot provide a reasoned argument, however I would as that you re-examine the redactions within the document and apply the relevant exemption and balance test against each individual redaction.

Linked with

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 number 7836. 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 see attached response to your internal review.

 

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]

 

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding my request for an internal review made on the 2nd February 2017.

Your response acknowledges that Staffordshire Police was in breach of Section 10 of the Act, and refers to your earlier response on the 6th February 2017, when some of the information requested was provided.

On the 8th February 2017, I wrote to request a further internal review regarding the information that was released, could you please confirm that the later requested internal review is now being considered.

Thanks

Mr Anderson

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Please see attached response to your Freedom of Information internal
review.

 

Regards

 

Julie Ferrie

 

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]

 

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Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

Staffordshire Police have failed to deal with this request in accordance with the FIO Act I have therefore referred the matter to the Information Commissioner.

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

 

Dear Mr Anderson

 

Please see the attached response as per the above ICO complaint and
Decision Notice.

 

Regards

 

Tracey Brindley

 

Tracey Brindley

Freedom of Information Decision Maker

Central Disclosure Unit

Staffordshire Police HQ

PO Box 3167

Stafford

ST16 9JZ

T:  Switchboard 101

E:  [1][Staffordshire Police request email]

 

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References

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1. mailto:[Staffordshire Police request email]

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

This matter has been referred to the ICO, and they have issued a decision notice broadly supporting non-disclosure. I have appealed the decision to the First Tier Tribunal.

Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

The First Tier Tribunal has ruled in favour of Staffordshire Police in respect of the first part of the request made, and indicated that part two and three of the request cannot be considered by the Tribunal at this point, but may be redirected back to the Information Commissioner for further investigation.

Dear Freedom of Information,

You will be aware that this FIO request was the subject of a First Tier Tribunal hearing. The Tribunal dealt with part 1 of the request, however indicated that they were unable to consider the issues highlighted in respect of Parts 2 & 3 without a fresh complaint to and decision by the Information Commissioner.

I have made contact with the ICO regarding part 2 & 3 and I have been asked to first request an Internal Review by Staffordshire Police, into my concerns over the remaining two parts.

In the Decision Notice No: FS50673467, the Information Commissioner directed Staffordshire Police to either provide the requested information within 35 day from the date of the notice, or provide a exemption for further refusal. Staffordshire Police did not respond until the 21st November 2017, more than two weeks after the 35 days directed in the notice.

The response provided by Staffordshire Police on the 21st November 2017, was that you DO NOT HOLD (DNH) the requested material. I would challenge that statement based on a number of factors:-

1. The ICO have already been sent copies of some letters which would fall under part 3 of the request, therefore the DNH cannot be correct.
2. I am aware of other letters that relate to report that have not been revealed.
3. It is Staffordshire Police's practice to attach a minute and movement sheet to documents such as the Review Document when it is passed from one officer to another, this practice is clearly confirmed by Supt Armstrong in Para 68 & 69 of his 'Independent Assessment'.
4. Given the gravity of the matters in the 'Independent Assessment' it is simple not credible to claim that the matter did not result in any other letter, reports or minutes as the matter was being considered by the force Executive, IPCC and PCC.

For the reasons outlined above I would ask that you now carry out an Internal Review into the both the time taken to issue the DNH and also whether the DNH statement is correct.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Staffordshire Police

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

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Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

3 Attachments

 

Dear Mr Anderson

 

Please see attached response to your Freedom of Information 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]

 

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References

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2. mailto:[Staffordshire Police request email]

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your response to my request for an internal review. I note that author of the response is not named, this has recently become the practice adopted by Staffordshire Police. I am not sure whether this is a policy implemented since Chief Constable Morgan took over, or whether it pre-dates his arrival.

Either way this policy does not enable requestors to ascertain whether the internal review was conducted by an independent member of staff from the initial decision maker. The current policy does not demonstrate openness or transparency, and may undermine trust in the review process.

I note the author's comments about the timing of the requested review and the inclusion of a quotation form an earlier response about requesting an internal review. I also note that the author was selective with the choice of quotation, and omitted the part where Staffordshire Police stated that it was still considering part 2 & 3 of the request. The full quotation reads:-

" 2. Copies of any minutes appended to the report at (1) above.
3. Any letters, emails or other correspondence in which the 'independent Assessment' referred to at (1) above is mentioned or commented on.
I am still trying to establish if any information is held and if it can be retrieved within the time and cost limit. I will respond to these two questions as soon as possible.

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

Following receipt of that response on the 8th February 2017, and then again on the 16th February 2017, I wrote to request an internal review, both requests well within the timescale mentioned above. Staffordshire Police did not deal with my requests in accordance with the Statutory timescales and consequently the matters were referred to the Information Commission for her consideration.

On the 5th October 2017, the Information Commissioner issued her decision notice and in respect of Part 2 & 3 of the request, she required Staffordshire Police to either provide the requested material or issue a valid refusal notice within 35 days, or face possible proceedings for 'contempt of court. Staffordshire Police failed to comply with the Information Commissioner's direction and did not respond until the 21st November 2017, when it issues a Do Not Hold (DNH) statement.

At the point that Staffordshire Police issued the inaccurate DNH statement the matter had been referred for a First Tier appeal through the civil courts. At the conclusion of the Tribunal Hearing it was the panel that decided that the matters relating to Part 2 & 3 should be referred back to the Information Commissioner and Staffordshire Police. I have followed the advice of both the Tribunal Panel and the Information Commissioner in making this internal review request.

It is now clear from the redacted material supplied by Staffordshire Police that I was right in stating that DNH statement could not be true. Staffordshire Police have sought to explain this 'error' as follows:-

"Regarding your query relating to whether the information requested is held by Staffordshire Police, at the time of your request a search was completed using a free text search on the words used by yourself, namely ‘independent assessment’. This search would hopefully retrieve emails with these words in the subject box or within the content of the email – any attachments to emails would not be located. This resulted in no information being found.

Subsequently a more detailed search was completed using the terms ‘Armstrong report’, Operation Sanctio and Operation Pendeford and information has been found relating to your request."

This explanation is contradictory in that it suggests that a free text search based on the words I used i.e. "independent assessment" revealed no information, and yet in redacted material now revealed the words "independent assessment" appear toward the top of page 3, and is repeated a number of other times on the released material, so why were these documents not located?

It took Staffordshire Police almost 12 months, to come to its initial conclusion that it did not hold the information requested at Part 2 & 3, and now it has shown its response to be inaccurate and its statements unreliable. If the systems of Staffordshire Police are so disjointed or inefficient that it cannot locate simple emails, letters, reports and associated minutes and movement sheets, then the public of Staffordshire have reason to be concerned.

Amongst the redacted material released are several emails which clearly indicate that the email had attachments which appear to be relevant to the information request, in at least one email there is reference to a Redacted Report (Email from Nicholas Baker date 12 September 2013). These attachments do not appear to have been included in the released material.

There are two letters in the released material between myself and D.C.C. Baker, both are dated July 2013. I am well aware that there are other letters between myself and Staffordshire Police concerning this matter that have not been included in the release material. Could I please ask that you revisit this to identify all relevant material, including the missing attachments.

In respect of Part 2 of my request your response states:-

"Regarding your query about a minute and movement sheet this was clarified with the Information Commissioners Office in relation to RFA 0704990 where we stipulated that this information is not held. "

This statement is confusing given that no details of what RFA 0704990 relates to are given. Should it be that this reference number relates to a separate Data Subject Access request, I should point out that such requests are not relevant to FOIA requests and therefore should not be referred. Material supplied to an individual under the DPA is done so privately to the individual, FOIA are considered a release to the world in general.

I should also point out of course that on the 21st November 2017, Staffordshire Police issued a DNH statement in respect of both Part 2 and 3 of my request. It is now clear that the DNH statement was at the very least inaccurate.

As I pointed out in my request for this internal review, it is Staffordshire Police's practice to attach a minute and movement sheet to documents such as the Review Document when it is passed from one officer to another, this practice is clearly confirmed by Supt Armstrong in Para 68 & 69 of his 'Independent Assessment'. I would be grateful if you could revisit this aspect of this internal review to ensure that the suggested DNH is accurate and reliable.

Finally this issue of Staffordshire Police's failure to respond to the decision notice within the timescale set by the Information Commissioner, was dealt with very briefly, no explanation or apology for the lack of compliance. Is this the level of respect that Staffordshire Police show to the statutory authority for overseeing FOIA and DPA matters.

The ICO suggests that members of the public seeking to obtain information should endeavour to remedy any disputes directly with the public authority concerned, before appealing to the Information Commissioner, consequently I am replying directly to your internal review response, and asking for you to look again at the points raised above.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Anderson

Please see attached response.

Regards

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

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your response dated 9th July 2018. Thank you for the explanation regarding the ‘free text’ search initially carried out. If I understand it correctly the search carried out will only identify emails/documents which contain the selected text on the first page, hence it missed the various material where the words ‘independent assessment’ appear further into a multi page document. If my understanding is correct there would appear to be serious weakness in Staffordshire Police’s retrieval system, which would call into question the reliability of any search carried out.

In respect of my initial request you correctly state “Your original request was for letters, emails or other correspondence in which the ‘independent assessment’ is mentioned or commented on.” The phrase ‘independent assessment’ was initially used to describe the review carried out by Supt. John Armstrong into concerns I raised over Operation Sancto & Operation Pendeford, the subsequent report as also be referred to as the ‘Armstrong Report’ and the ‘independent review’.

In highlighting the missing correspondence I am not expanding or changing my initial request, nor am I requesting material relating to myself, if that was the case I would make a Data Subject Access request. It is however correct that some of the correspondence sought were sent by or to me, and although I have indicated that I am happy for my name to appear in that material I make the request under the FOIA. Should Staffordshire Police be uncomfortably for any reason with publishing letters in which I am named they are of course free to redact my details.

The additional letters I mentioned are missing from the material release to date do specifically mention the Independent Review in Op Sanction and Op Pendeford, and make reference to other correspondence between Staffordshire Police and the IPCC, one such letter is dated 21st December 2016 and the author was DCC Nick Baker. I seek this information through the FOIA and understand that in doing so any information released will be to the open to the public and not restricted to me, I have no problem with the public seeing the information I believe they have a right to.

At the end of your response you state “A minute and movement sheet was used previously within Staffordshire Police but as documents are now stored electronically this process is no longer used. No minute and movement sheets that fit the criteria of your request are held.”. I am grateful for this explanation highlighting a change in the system following the introduction of an electronic document system.

Whilst I appreciate it was not part of my initial request could you please clarify the date that manual movement and minute sheets ended, doing so will clarify the position and remove the need for an addition FOIA request which will save both me and Staffordshire Police time. I presume that the electronic system will provide an electronic version of the old minute sheet where senior officers reviewing the document can record their observations or instructions, in which case those note would fall into the category of material requested.

I hope this clarifies the situation, however if any confusion remains please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson

Your comments on the below email have been noted.

Further to your reference again to a 'minute and movement sheet'. The date that the use of these sheets ended is not recorded.

Regards

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

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your correspondence earlier today. I note your statement that the date the system changed is not recorded, if that is the case how can Staffordshire Police be sure that the Independent Assessment was dealt with on the new electronic system? I ask this question because the author (Supt. John Armstrong ) of the assessment clearly refers to manual minutes and movements sheets being in use when he wrote his report.

Your brief response did not clarify whether the situation regarding whether an electronic movement (circulation) sheet or minutes sheet is part of the new system, if the answer is yes, then those records would fit the category of information I have requested.

Please clarify Staffordshire Police’s position on my request for the remaining correspondence outlined in my previous correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson,

Thank you for your email.

We consider that every effort has been made to assist you with regard to your FOI request.

Regards,

Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police HQ
P.O. Box 3167
Stafford
ST16 9JZ
E: [Staffordshire Police request email]

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Than you for your correspondence sent earlier today.

The Information Commissioner requires individuals that make FOIA requests to make every attempt to resolve any issues directly with the public body, before appealing any issues. I have outlined in my recent correspondence a number of areas where I feel the Staffordshire Police have not provided all of the requested information, i.e . sequence of letters from December 2016, and clarification over the minutes and movement sheets.

Whilst you recent statement that Staffordshire Police considers it has made every attempt to assist suggests that it maybe unwilling to provide the remaining information, it stops short of indicating whether it holds or does not hold the information requested, or whether it is applying one or more of the Statutory exemptions under the Act to withhold the information request. Could I please ask that Staffordshire Police either provide the information requested or indicate any grounds for not doing so.

Yours sincerely,

Mr L. Anderson

Freedom of Information, Staffordshire Police

Dear Mr Anderson,

With regard to the 'minutes and movement sheet', I will reiterate once again that this information is not held.

As outlined in the internal review response (dated 19th June 2018), if you are not content you may wish to apply directly to the Information Commissioner.

Regards,

Freedom of Information
Central Disclosure Unit
Staffordshire Police HQ
P.O. Box 3167
Stafford
ST16 9JZ
E: [Staffordshire Police request email]

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Mr L. Anderson left an annotation ()

Following Staffordshire Police's failure to respond to the ICO Decision Notice within the stipulated 35 day period, I requested an internal review into the Do Not Hold statement issued by public body. Staffordshire Police have now accepted that they do in-fact hold relevant information and they have released some but not all of the material. I am referring this matter back to the ICO.

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