Dear West Midlands Police,

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with these arrests:

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert number].

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to be a child.

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by your own officers acting as decoys.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to you by so-called paedophile hunters.

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

Freedom of Information,

Thankyou for your e-mail, you have contacted the Freedom of Information
Department

Valid FOI requests will be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and you will receive a response, subject to the
information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party
Although every effort will be made to ensure a response is provided within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days, due to current circumstances
delays may be unavoidable.  We apologise for any inconvenience and will
endeavour to process your request as quickly as is practicable.

What can I not access under FOI?
You will not be able to access information:

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This email is intended for the addressee only and may contain privileged
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alteration of this email is strictly forbidden. Views or opinions
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Midlands Police. All West Midlands Police email activity is monitored for
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responsibility is accepted by West Midlands Police for any loss or damage
arising in any way from the receipt or use of this email.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

oe Purshouse (School of Law, University of East Anglia) has written a paper that seriously questions the activities of so-called paedophile hunters. It is titled: "'Paedophile Hunters’, Criminal Procedure, and Fundamental Human Rights".

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full...

"The muted response of the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and domestic courts to paedophile hunters is failing to deter their criminality. The article ends with suggestions for reappraisal of existing legal doctrines, law reform, and more rigorous enforcement to control and, in some cases, deter paedophile hunting."

Freedom of Information,

Dear D Moore

FOI Request Reference: 8A/21

Thank you for your request for information, received 2/1/2021

REQUEST

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with these arrests:

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert number].

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to be a child.

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by your own officers acting as decoys.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to you by so-called paedophile hunters.

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.

CLARIFICATION REQUIRED

I am writing to ask you to clarify your request. This is because we need further details from you in order to identify and locate the information.

Your request is very broad and it is not clear which documents or information would satisfy your query. Therefore it would be helpful if you could be more specific. For example, do you require :

1. Is it the financial year 2019/2020 or calendar years 2019 and 2020 you require?

2. In Question 1a you ask for " the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children." This is too broad. We cannot identify from our data "online" offences. The arrest record will show the offence title but there are none which are specific to ‘online’ sexual offences. There is no ‘MO’ in an arrest record which would allow for a word search to pick these up.

My only suggestion would be to get all recorded sexual offences for a person aged under years that are of a sexual nature. However given that there will be a lot I would imagine to identify those with the online element may encounter a S12 cost refusal FOI Act.

https://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/chil...

https://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/sexu...

Please note that the above are just a couple of published FOI's on our publication website that may answer many of your questions for you.

Here is the link to our FOI site:

http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/

3: Question 1B refers to all arrests "associated" with sexual offences as listed. Associated is too broad. We can do arrests for that specific arrest, but it may transpire that they were actually charged with something else. May I suggest you ask for all "crimes recorded" for those specific offences, as when a person is arrested a "crime" is created, this would be a better way for us to search.

4: Question 2 and 3, in relation to decoys, again this is not a general search option and each "crime" would need to be individually assessed to see if it is relevant, we are unable to do this is "arrests". You may wish to re phrase (no suggestions) or remove these questions.

5: Question 4, this data would likely to be inaccurate as information received is often anonymous, it would be easier for you to name the organisations you are interested in and we could search to see if they have offered information. For us to provide you with names of organisations would mean that some of the data you would require would be missed as we are unsure which ones you are looking for. Please specify the organisation.

Please re-write your request with the points 1-5 above clarified.

Please note that The Freedom of Information Act applies to recorded information and therefore we are unable to supply opinions or to comment on events unless those opinions or comments are already recorded.

Please contact me if you need assistance with this.

To enable us to proceed with your request I would be grateful if you could provide the clarification outlined above within 40 working days of this correspondence. After receiving your reply, your request will be considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, as defined by the Act, subject to the application of any statutory exemptions. If you choose not to respond then your request will be closed.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For further information and data on West Midlands Police see our publication scheme and disclosure log

http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/

If you need any further information please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Unit

Susan Goddard| Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Communications | West Midlands Police
T: 101 (ext. 801 2068)
Preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.
If it’s not 999, search WMP Online

show quoted sections

J Roberts left an annotation ()

I see the article by Joe Purshouse was first published on 17th June 2020, a month before the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of someone caught by 'paedophile hunters' :

[2020] UKSC 32

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2020...

See comment dated 15 July 2020:

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

Story from the Independent:

"‘Paedophile hunters’ do not violate right to privacy, Supreme Court rules as convict's appeal dismissed"

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr...

Elite Predators Interceptors

Birmingham college worker allegedly taught the decoy to perform a certain act on herself. Also alleged that the suspect said in his chat that he had previously met a 15-year-old girl for sex and that he paid her £20. The suspect said that he had made that up.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/bUF8rucxR...

STOP

Birmingham man allegedly speaking to a 14-year-old female decoy. It was alleged that he said in the chat 'do you want me to hurt you'. He tried to escape several times.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/sIGYd1OH0...

Justice 4 Children

Coventry man allegedly came to meet what he believed to be a young girl.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/e1mRQzqAC...

Walsall man allegedly came to meet what he beleved was a 14-year-old girl. Also alleged that he said in the chat that he knew coming to meet her was wrong. He said he thought she was aged 18. Explicit chat referred to.
https://www.bitchute.com/video/yjx1BgXZm...

Defending the Innocent

Coventry man allegedly came to meet what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. Also alleged that he sent an explicit image and that he referred to a young family member as 'sexy'. The suspect admitted to being in possession of a quantity of cannabis. Video includes a screaming and swearing woman. Some viewers/listeners may find the video distressing.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/uevqHot4o...

More videos can be found here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

"'Paedophile hunter' evidence used to charge 150 suspects" (2017)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43...

"Strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse" (February 2020)

“Almost half of the online grooming cases emanate from the activities of online child abuse activist groups (vigilante groups), who are unregulated and untrained. A more robust proactive capability on the part of Police Scotland would reduce the opportunities for these groups to operate.” (page 5)

https://www.hmics.scot/sites/default/fil...

BBC Radio 4 programme The Untold goes on a "sting" with Leeds-based hunting group Predator Exposure:

"Six of the group went on trial accused of charges including false imprisonment and common assault. They were all found not guilty and emerged from Leeds Crown Court vowing to step up the work that they do."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000hv9p

See the group in action:

https://youtu.be/_gfRmagvltk

Useful information provided by South Yorkshire Police from the Force Disclosure Log:

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Radio 4's File on 4 dealt with the issue of female sex offenders in "Women Who Abuse":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rcq5

The programme highlighted the case of a female groomer who was jailed in 2018. Details of her crime are available on the UK Database:

https://uk-database.net/2018/03/22/debor...

Thirty-six police forces responded to FOI requests (5th minute). The responses revealed that between 2015-19:

- there were over 10,400 reports of women sexually abusing children

- Over 5,400 reports concerned children aged 11-17

- around 3,800 reports involved children under 11

(some forces didn't provide information on ages)

A FOI request was also sent to the Disclosure and Barring Service. I have requested a copy of the response received:

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

"There is evidence more female abusers are being flagged when applying for jobs with children or vulnerable adults than are being reported to the police."

The programme also referred to research by Dr Andrea Darling, who wrote this article on female teachers who abuse pupils:

https://theconversation.com/understandin...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

CPS legal guidance regarding paedophile hunters (July 2020). Paedophile hunting groups are referred to formally as online child abuse activist groups (OCAGs):

'The term OCAGs in this context refers to individuals or groups of individuals who are members of the public using on-line activity to uncover or "catch" alleged paedophiles involved in on-line child sexual abuse or interested in meeting children for the purpose of such abuse. A wide range activity may fall under this umbrella term...'

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/on...

'Police are encouraged to seek early investigative advice (EIA) in all OCAG cases using the EIA process available in each CPS area. This will assist officers to address any complex evidential issues, to focus their investigation and to bring to an early conclusion cases which are unlikely to meet the required evidential standard.'

Recently published Home Office report titled 'Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy'.

'This ground-breaking Strategy sets out the Government’s ambition to prevent, tackle and respond to all forms of child sexual abuse.

5. Our goal is to ensure there are no safe spaces online for offenders to abuse and exploit children. Across the NCA, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), National Cyber Force (NCF) and wider law enforcement, the Home Office will invest in the development of new technological capabilities to bring more technically sophisticated offenders to justice and help our partners identify and safeguard more victims and survivors. This includes enhancing the use of the UK’s world-leading Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

Dear Freedom of Information,

FOI Request Reference: 8A/21

Thank you for your response, and I apologise for the delay in responding. I wish to refine my request:

1. Number of crime reports for grooming offences recorded with an online marker attached, for 2019/2020.
2. Of which, the number resulting in a charge.
3. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a child decoy.
4. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a police decoy.
5. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a paedophile hunter group.
6. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who reported suspects related to the offences in your response to If this is not possible, then search specifically for the following groups: i. Children's Innocence Matters (CIM) ii. One Reason iii. Catching Online Predators (COP) iv. Predator Exposure v. STOP vi. Taxi For Nonce (TFN) vii Our Team viii. Fleetwood Enforcers ix. Team Impact x. Wolf Pack Hunters xi. Soloceptors xii. Confronted and Caught xiii. Predators Exposed Sting Team (PEST). Please also carry out a search using the terms 'OCAG', 'OCAGS' and 'activist group'.

For your information:

'The term OCAGs in this context refers to individuals or groups of individuals who are members of the public using on-line activity to uncover or "catch" alleged paedophiles involved in on-line child sexual abuse or interested in meeting children for the purpose of such abuse. A wide range activity may fall under this umbrella term...'

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/on...

Yours sincerely,

D. Moore

Freedom of Information,

Thankyou for your e-mail, you have contacted the Freedom of Information
Department

Valid FOI requests will be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and you will receive a response, subject to the
information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party
Although every effort will be made to ensure a response is provided within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days, due to current circumstances
delays may be unavoidable.  We apologise for any inconvenience and will
endeavour to process your request as quickly as is practicable.

What can I not access under FOI?
You will not be able to access information:

  *   about yourself. This is a Subject Access
Request<https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/abou...>
(SAR)
  *   about third parties
  *   about your police record
  *   to access legal aid
  *   for employment purposes
  *   for civil proceedings
  *    for insurance requests
  *    in relation to police certificates for the purpose of emigration,
visas and residency
If you want to make a request on any of the above, visit our main website
to find out how:
https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/abou...

or make contact with the `Live Chat` team on the force website who will be
able to assist you further.
https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/cont...

Preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.
If it’s not 999, search WMP Online<https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/>

This email is intended for the addressee only and may contain privileged
or confidential information. If received in error, please notify the
originator immediately. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, copying or
alteration of this email is strictly forbidden. Views or opinions
expressed in this email do not necessarily represent those of West
Midlands Police. All West Midlands Police email activity is monitored for
virus, racist, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate activity. No
responsibility is accepted by West Midlands Police for any loss or damage
arising in any way from the receipt or use of this email.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Anti-paedophile investigators question response by West Midlands Police.

In a 'sting' carried out on 4/2/21 (Coventry) at around 3 in the morning, a police officer in attendance allegedly said they would not arrest the suspect but would return at a later date to conclude the matter because of a shortage of officers. An investigator described the situation as 'crazy' and said that a failure to search the suspect's property would permit the suspect to dispose of any incriminating evidence. Another police car arrived and an officer asked why the anti-paedophile investigators had not left the scene. Words were exchanged.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/K4M1ZUpF6...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Birmingham - Safeguarding Kids Online/COBRA 4/1/20

All hell broke loose on this sting.

It was alleged that the suspect was on bail for doing something similar before (speaking sexually to a child online).

A woman who was described as the suspects's partner allegedly grabbed the lead investigator by the throat and was seen on camera punching and kicking other members of the group. The suspect's dog appeared and allegedly bit someone. The person allegedly bit by the dog said that the dog would be done too if it bit him again. A police officer objected to being filmed and repeatedly said 'take that off me'.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/ztnIF0toR...

Birmingham - Our Team 18/5/20

The investigator warned the police that the suspect's dog was vicious as they were about to enter his property.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/GA1JoPETt...

Birmingham - Children's Innocence Matters 12/1/20

It was alleged the suspect's mother worked for the police.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/96HT36Sa4...

Freedom of Information,

4 Attachments

Dear D Moore

 

FOI Request Reference: 8A/21

 

Thank you for your request for information, received 2/1/2021

 

REQUEST

 

 

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding
online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

 

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with
these arrests:

 

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert
number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003
[insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the
Communications Act 2003 [insert number].

 

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one
child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to
be a child.

 

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection
with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by
your own officers acting as decoys.

 

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection
with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to
you by so-called paedophile hunters.

 

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who
provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in
connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.

 

We clarified with you on 5/1/2021:

 

1. Is it the financial year 2019/2020 or calendar years 2019 and 2020 you
require?

 

2. In Question 1a you ask for " the number of arrests you made in 2019/20
regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children." This is
too broad.  We cannot identify from our data "online" offences. The arrest
record will show the offence title but there are none which are specific
to ‘online’ sexual offences. There is no ‘MO’ in an arrest record which
would allow for a word search to pick these up. 

 

My only suggestion would be to get all recorded sexual offences for a
person aged under years that are of a sexual nature. However given that
there will be a lot I would imagine to identify those with the online
element may encounter a S12 cost refusal FOI Act.

 

[1]https://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/chil...

 

 [2]https://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/sexu...

 

Please note that the above are just a couple of published FOI's on our
publication website that may answer many of your questions for you.

 

Here is the link to our FOI site:

 

[3]http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/

 

3: Question 1B refers to all arrests "associated" with sexual offences as
listed.  Associated is too broad.  We can do arrests for that specific
arrest, but it may transpire that they were actually charged with
something else.  May I suggest you ask for all "crimes recorded" for those
specific offences, as when a person is arrested a "crime" is created, this
would be a better way for us to search.

 

4: Question 2 and 3, in relation to decoys, again this is not a general
search option and each "crime" would need to be individually assessed to
see if it is relevant, we are unable to do this is "arrests".  You may
wish to re phrase (no suggestions) or remove these questions.

 

5: Question 4, this data would likely to be inaccurate as information
received is often anonymous, it would be easier for you to name the
organisations you are interested in and we could search to see if they
have offered information.  For us to provide you with names of
organisations would mean that some of the data you would require would be
missed as we are unsure which ones you are looking for.  Please specify
the organisation.

 

Please re-write your request with the points 1-5 above clarified.

 

You replied on 24/1/2021:

 

 

Thank you for your response, and I apologise for the delay in responding. 
I wish to refine my request:

 

 

 

1. Number of crime reports for grooming offences recorded with an online
marker attached, for 2019/2020.

 

2. Of which, the number resulting in a charge.

 

3. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a child decoy.

 

4. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a police decoy.

 

5. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a paedophile
hunter group.

 

6.  Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups
who reported suspects related to the offences in your response to  If this
is not possible, then search specifically for the following groups: i. 
Children's Innocence Matters (CIM) ii.  One Reason iii.  Catching Online
Predators (COP)  iv.  Predator Exposure v.  STOP  vi.  Taxi For Nonce
(TFN) vii  Our Team viii.  Fleetwood Enforcers ix.  Team Impact x. Wolf
Pack Hunters xi.  Soloceptors xii. Confronted and Caught xiii.  Predators
Exposed Sting Team (PEST).   Please also carry out a search using the
terms 'OCAG', 'OCAGS'  and 'activist group'.

 

………………………………….

 

 

The FOI Act obliges us to respond to requests promptly and in any case no
later than 20 working days after receiving your request. We must consider
firstly whether we can comply with section 1(1) (a) of the Act, which is
our duty to confirm whether or not the information requested is held and
secondly we must comply with section 1(1)(b), which is the provision of
such information.

 

However, when a qualified exemption applies either to the confirmation or
denial, or the provision of the information and the public interest test
is engaged, the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20
working days, if the balance of such public interest is undetermined. In
this case we have not yet reached a decision on where the balance of the
public interest lies in respect of either of the above obligations.

 

We estimate that it will take an additional 20 working days to make a
decision on where this balance lies. Therefore, we plan to let you have a
response by 19^th March 2021. If it appears that it will take longer than
this to reach a conclusion, you will be kept informed. The specific
exemption(s) which applies in relation this information is:

 

 S31 (3) Law Enforcement

 

I apologise for any inconvenience. We aim to provide you with a meaningful
response as soon as possible.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

For further information and data on West Midlands Police see our
publication scheme and disclosure log

 

[4]http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/

 

RIGHT OF APPEAL

 

Your attention is drawn to your right to request a re-examination of your
case under West Midlands Police review procedure, which can be found at:

 

[5]http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/revie...

 

Please note that such an appeal must be received within 40 working days of
the date of this correspondence. Any such request received after this time
will only be considered at the discretion of the FOI Unit.

 

If you need any further information please contact me.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Susan Goddard| Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Communications | West Midlands Police
T: 101 (ext. 801 2068)

Preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.

[6]If it’s not 999, search WMP Online

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or confidential information. If received in error, please notify the
originator immediately. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, copying or
alteration of this email is strictly forbidden. Views or opinions
expressed in this email do not necessarily represent those of West
Midlands Police. All West Midlands Police email activity is monitored for
virus, racist, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate activity. No
responsibility is accepted by West Midlands Police for any loss or damage
arising in any way from the receipt or use of this email.

References

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Freedom of Information,

4 Attachments

Dear D Moore

 

FOI Request Reference: 8A/21

 

Thank you for your initial request for information received on 2/1/2021,
and subsequently clarified on 24/1/2021 as follows:

 

1. Number of crime reports for grooming offences recorded with an online
marker attached, for 2019/2020.

2. Of which, the number resulting in a charge.

3. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a child decoy.

4. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a police decoy.

5. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a paedophile
hunter group.

6.  Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups
who reported suspects related to the offences in your response to  If this
is not possible, then search specifically for the following groups: i. 
Children's Innocence Matters (CIM) ii.  One Reason iii.  Catching Online
Predators (COP)  iv.  Predator Exposure v.  STOP  vi.  Taxi For Nonce
(TFN) vii  Our Team viii.  Fleetwood Enforcers ix.  Team Impact x. Wolf
Pack Hunters xi.  Soloceptors xii. Confronted and Caught xiii.  Predators
Exposed Sting Team (PEST).   Please also carry out a search using the
terms 'OCAG', 'OCAGS'  and 'activist group'.

 

RESPONSE

 

Q1: Number of crime reports for grooming offences recorded with an online
marker attached, for 2019/2020.

3

2. Of which, the number resulting in a charge.

 

3

3. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a child decoy.

 

4. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a police decoy.

Please be advised that Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply,
the first duty at s1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information
specified in a request is held. The second duty at s1(1)(b) is to disclose
information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are
relied upon section 17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with
a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in
question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the
exemption applies.

West Midlands Police (WMP) can neither confirm nor deny that it holds
information relevant to this part of your request as the duty in s1(1)(a)
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the
following exemptions:

 

Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain Security
Bodies;

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

Section 40(5) Personal Information

 

Section 23 & 40 are class based absolute exemptions and there is no
requirement to consider the public interest in this case.

Confirming or denying the existence of whether child or police decoys were
used would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on
disclosure of any information supplied by, or concerning, certain Security
Bodies.

 

Section 40(5A)&(5B)(a)(i) of the Act provides:

 

(5A)The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to information
which is (or if it were held by the public authority would be) exempt
information by virtue of subsection (1).

(5B) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to other
information if or to the extent that any of the following applies—

(a) giving a member of the public the confirmation or denial that would
have to be given to comply with section 1(1)(a)—

(i) would (apart from this Act) contravene any of the data protection
principles

 

[1]http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018...

 

Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is designed to address
information that is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018. Under section
40(5), WMP is not required to comply with the requirements of section
1(1) (a) i.e. the duty to inform the applicant whether or not the
information is held.

In most cases Personal Data is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act as I will explain below.

To confirm or deny whether personal information exists could publicly
reveal information about an identifiable individual or individuals,
thereby breaching the right to privacy afforded to persons under the Data
Protection Act (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
2018.

Where an individual is requesting his or her own personal data the
information is always exempt.  Such information can be requested under
other legislation.

 

Where an individual is requesting third party personal data WMP must
ensure that any action taken adheres to the principles of the Data
Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR.  To clarify, the Freedom of Information
Act only allows disclosure of personal data if that disclosure would be
compliant with the principles for processing personal data.  These
principles are outlined under section 34 of the DPA 2018 and under Article
5 of the GDPR.

 

Section 31 is prejudice based and qualified and there is a requirement to
articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not whether
information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test. 

 

Harm

As you may be aware, disclosure under FOIA is a release to the public at
large. Whilst not questioning the motives of the applicant, confirming or
denying that any information is held by forces would show areas of police
vulnerability. The public expect police forces and other law enforcement
agencies to use all powers and tactics available to prevent and detect
crime or disorder and maintain public safety.  Law enforcement tactics
would be compromised which would hinder the prevention or detection of
crime if the level of use of such tactics were openly discussed. This
would impact on police resources, more crime would then be committed and
individuals placed at risk.

 

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31

By confirming or denying whether any relevant information is held, would
allow the public to gain a greater understanding of where public funds are
being spent.  Better public awareness may lead to more information from
the public.

 

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31

Confirming or denying whether any information is held in relation to this
request at this time would not be in the public interest and has potential
to undermine any ongoing investigation. This would ultimately hinder the
prevention and detection of crime. 

 

The public entrust WMP to handle information they provide appropriately
and in line with legislative guidelines, e.g. Data Protection Act.  To
reveal detail of whether or not such information is known to the force
would act as a deterrent to the public to provide information to the force
and also hinder the prevention or detection of crime. 

 

Police forces rely on information being supplied by the public. 
Irrespective of whether information pertinent to questions 3&4 is or isn’t
held, by applying substantive exemptions would indicate that information
is held and is currently being investigated.  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 the
prevention or detection of crime. 

 

Balance

The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying whether
information pertinent to this request exists.  The Police Service is
charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and
protecting the communities we serve. 

 

The Police Service will not divulge whether information is or is not held
if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk.  Whilst there
is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and
investigations, providing assurance that the Police Service is
appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from criminals,
there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of
police operations when delivering effective operational law enforcement to
ensure the prevention and detection of crime is carried out and the
effective apprehension or prosecution of offenders is maintained.

At this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the
balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information
exists. No inference can be drawn from these facts that any information
does or does not exist.

5. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a paedophile
hunter group.

 

2

6.  Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups
who reported suspects related to the offences in your response to  If this
is not possible, then search specifically for the following groups: i. 
Children's Innocence Matters (CIM) ii.  One Reason iii.  Catching Online
Predators (COP)  iv.  Predator Exposure v.  STOP  vi.  Taxi For Nonce
(TFN) vii  Our Team viii.  Fleetwood Enforcers ix.  Team Impact x. Wolf
Pack Hunters xi.  Soloceptors xii. Confronted and Caught xiii.  Predators
Exposed Sting Team (PEST).   Please also carry out a search using the
terms 'OCAG', 'OCAGS'  and 'activist group'.

 

Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires West Midlands
Police, when refusing to provide such information (because the information
is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which:   (a) states
that fact, (b) specifies the exemption in question and (c) states (if that
would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

 

The exemption applicable in this case is as follows:

Section 31 (1) (a) (b) Law Enforcement                  

Section 31 is prejudice based and qualified and there is a requirement to
articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not whether
information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test. 

Harm

West Midlands Police (WMP) are charged with enforcing the law, preventing
and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. To release
the requested information causes a significant risk to future law
enforcement capability of the force.

WMP has a duty to prevent crime, apprehend and prosecute offenders and
carry out the administration of justice.   

Factors Favouring Disclosure  

We recognise that the public interest in being open and transparent is of
great importance to all and release of information may assist the public
in being more aware of the work that the police are carrying out.
Therefore, a better awareness may in turn lead to more information being
provided by the public to West Midlands Police as they would be more
conscious of suspicious activities.

 

Factors Favouring non-Disclosure  

The disclosure of this information could compromise law enforcement
tactics; the more information disclosed over time will give a more
detailed account of the tactical infrastructure of not only a force area
but also the country as a whole. Releasing this information into the
public domain could allow offenders to map the operational capabilities of
forces, which may encourage and enable them to change their tactics to
avoid detection and prosecution. 

West Midlands Police would not wish to reveal specific tactics that have
been used as this would clearly undermine the law enforcement and
investigative process. This would have a negative impact on police
resources, encouraging more crime to be committed which would result in
individuals being placed at risk. 

This would compromise the current and future law enforcement role of the
Police Service and where current or future law enforcement capabilities of
the force may be compromised by the release of information, it is unlikely
to be in the interest of the public.  

To tell you which paedophile hunting groups who reported suspects related
to the offences in our response, would undermine the investigation process
and would also reveal to any potential offenders which groups are
reporting matters to the Police.

Balancing Test

For a public interest test, issues that favour disclosure need to be
measured against issues that favour non-disclosure. The public interest is
not what interests the public, or a particular individual, but what will
serve the greater good, if released, to the community as a whole. Where
information does not impact on any future possible investigation, or where
the detriment is not large, there is a public interest in providing
information to ensure greater transparency. This is significant as it
would help increase public confidence in the force, and may encourage more
victims and witnesses to come forward to report crimes or suspected crimes
to the police. However, the police service is responsible for enforcing
the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we
serve, and the release of the requested information may have a negative
impact on operational law enforcement and may put communities and
individuals at risk.

As part of the policing purpose, information is gathered which can be
highly sensitive relating to high profile investigative activity. Police
forces work in conjunction with other agencies and on a daily basis
information is freely shared in line with information sharing protocols. 
Modern day policing is intelligence led and this is particularly pertinent
with regard to law enforcement. Weakening the mechanisms used to monitor
any type of criminal activity, would place the security of the country at
an increased level of danger.

Having considered the arguments for and against release, the public
interest test favours non-release of material which directly impacts on
any on-going or future investigations. The greater public interest is
served in maintaining the integrity of the justice process, and this in
turn favours maintaining the exemption in relation to the withheld
material. West Midlands Police will not disclose information that could
compromise the future law enforcement role of the force.

 

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

For further information and data on West Midlands Police see our
publication scheme and disclosure log

 

[2]http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/

 

RIGHT OF APPEAL

 

Your attention is drawn to your right to request a re-examination of your
case under West Midlands Police review procedure, which can be found at:

 

[3]http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/revie...

 

Please note that such an appeal must be received within 40 working days of
the date of this correspondence. Any such request received after this time
will only be considered at the discretion of the FOI Unit.

 

If you require any further information, then please do not hesitate to
contact me.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Susan Goddard| Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Communications | West Midlands Police
T: 101 (ext. 801 2068)

Preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.

[4]If it’s not 999, search WMP Online

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or confidential information. If received in error, please notify the
originator immediately. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, copying or
alteration of this email is strictly forbidden. Views or opinions
expressed in this email do not necessarily represent those of West
Midlands Police. All West Midlands Police email activity is monitored for
virus, racist, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate activity. No
responsibility is accepted by West Midlands Police for any loss or damage
arising in any way from the receipt or use of this email.

References

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D. Moore left an annotation ()

Useful information:

Home Office counting rules - sexual offences (effective from April 2021)

'Sexual grooming

General Rule: One crime for each child.

Examples

1: A 60 year old male posted photographs of his teenage son on internet chat rooms and posed as his son. Following frequent internet chats with two 13 year old girls he encouraged them to travel to a London Station to meet him for sex.
Two crimes (class 88/1-88A).

2: A sports coach arranges for his 14 year old star pupil to meet up for a winter training week in Spain with him. He is arrested at Heathrow in possession of condoms and lubricants which he admits were for a sexual use on his star pupil.

One crime (class 88/1 –88A

'Principal Crime Example: see General Rules Section F and Annex C.

If a person has sexual activity with a child following grooming, record the substantive sexual offence only. A 40 year old male posted photographs of his teenage son on internet chat rooms and posed as his son. Following frequent internet chats with two 13 year old girls he encouraged them to travel to a London Station to meet him for sex. He has sexual intercourse with one of them and is arrested meeting the other girl.

One crime (class22/12 -22B) and one crime (class 88/1 -88A).'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

BBC News (13/5/21)

'The body overseeing criminal sentences in England and Wales is proposing treating paedophiles who are caught in stings the same as abusers who harm real children.'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57095465

Impact Assessment, The Home Office
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Sex offender management (g/h pages 6-7/16-19/24-25/31-34/49-59/75-76/80)

Information on polygraphs (49)

'Government intervention is necessary to address this gap in criminal law and ensure that those that arrange or facilitate child sex offences targeting children under the age of 13 are sentenced considering the additional vulnerability of the intended victims.'

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bi...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

You may be interested in this:

'National Police Chiefs’ Council Responding to Online Child Abuse Activists

2.2 Analysis of incidents of activism has revealed a mixed picture. Some activist groups have amended their mode of operation such that they pass packages of information to the police without having real world contact with the person suspected of offending behaviour. Whilst this is a positive development many groups continue to insist on carrying out a physical intervention and only notify the police post or concurrent to the event. This is less desirable for reasons that have been previously articulated. There is an increased prevalence of direct criminality where purported activists have no intention to notify the police but use the opportunity of an encounter to extort or rob.

2.3 The complex, nuanced and often overlapping nature of activism and volunteering make it difficult to be prescriptive as to the approach to be taken. It is not legally practicable for policing to develop memoranda of understanding or protocol of operation with activists without risking claims of abuse of process. Where the state is seen to circumvent statutory regulation by sub-contracting work to public volunteers it is highly likely that criminal prosecution will be stayed.'

https://www.npcc.police.uk/2019%20FOI/NP...