Prevention of Harassment Letter: the right to know the evidence

simona florio made this Freedom of Information request to Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

The request was partially successful.

From: simona florio

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Your guidance document about the use of Prevention of Harassment
Letters reads:

"Where a suspect either denies the alleged behaviour or knowing the
victim, and there are no reasonable grounds to support or
corroborate the allegation or the suspect's involvement, it is not
appropriate to issue a warning, as the allegation may be false or
the suspect may have been wrongly identified."

My query is: do suspects who deny the alleged behaviour (but who
are given the Notice regardless) have the right to be told what are
the grounds deemed to support or corroborate the specific
allegations against them, or their involvement ? In other words,
can a Prevention of Harassment Letter be given to a suspect who
denies the alleged behaviour without the Police revealing their
grounds for issuing the letter?

If the officer/s issuing the letter states that there is enough
evidence corroborating the allegations, does the suspect have the
right to know what such evidence is?

Your faithfully,

Simona Florio

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Ms. Florio

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2011120003456
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 24/12/2011.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

"Your guidance document about the use of Prevention of Harassment Letters
reads:    

"Where a suspect either denies the alleged behaviour or knowing the
victim, and there are no reasonable grounds to support or corroborate the
allegation or the suspect's involvement, it is not appropriate to issue a
warning, as the allegation may be false or the suspect may have been
wrongly identified."    

My query is: do suspects who deny the alleged behaviour (but who are given
the Notice regardless) have the right to be told what are the grounds
deemed to support or corroborate the specific allegations against them, or
their involvement ? In other words, can a Prevention of Harassment Letter
be given to a suspect who denies the alleged behaviour without the Police
revealing their grounds for issuing the letter?    

If the officer/s issuing the letter states that there is enough evidence
corroborating the allegations, does the suspect have the right to know
what such evidence is? "

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  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 or containing a reference to a third
party.  In some circumstances the MPS may be unable to achieve this
deadline.  If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me, quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

R. Loizou
Policy and Support Officer
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
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NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
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monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
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this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Ms Florio,

Freedom of Information Request Reference Number: 2011120003456

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 24th December 2011. I note you
seek access to the following information:

"Your guidance document about the use of Prevention of Harassment Letters
reads: 'Where a suspect either denied the alleged behaviour or knowing the
victim, and there are no reasonable grounds to support or corroborate the
allegation or the suspect's involvement, it is not appropriate to issue a
warning, as the allegation may be false or the suspect may have been
wrongly identified.'
My query is:

1 - do suspects who deny the alleged behaviour (but who are given the
Notice regardless) have the right to be told what are the grounds deemed
to support or corroborate the specific allegations against them, or their
involvement?

In other words, can a Prevention of Harassment Letter be given to a
suspect who denies the alleged behaviour without the Police revealing
their grounds for issuing the letter?

2 - If the officer/s issuing the letter states that there is enough
evidence corroborating the allegations, does the suspect have the right to
know what such evidence is?"

EXTENT OF SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION

To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted
at the Territorial Policing Headquarters - TP Crime OCU.

RESULT OF SEARCHES

The searches located records relevant to your request.

DECISION

I have today decided to confirm information is held in part and is
reasonably accessible by other means, pursuant to Section 21 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) and to provide you with the
relevant link. Please refer to the Legal Annex below for any sections of
the Act that are referred to in this notice.

REASON FOR DECISION

Before I explain the decisions I have made in relation to your request, I
thought that it would be helpful to outline the parameters set out by the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) within which a request for
information can be answered. The Act creates a statutory right of access
to information held by public authorities. A public authority in receipt
of a request must, if permitted, state under Section 1(1)(a) of the Act,
whether it holds the requested information and, if held, then communicate
that information to the applicant under Section 1(b) of the Act.

I would also like to take this opportunity to explain that section 84(c)
of the Act explicitly states that 'information' in relation to the Act
means "information recorded in any form". Therefore a public authority is
not required to create information or provide opinion in order to respond
to a request under the Act, unless it is already recorded in documents.

I can advise you that the MPS Primary and Secondary Investigation of Crime
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) provide the MPS with the necessary
guidance on the processing of matters under the Protection from Harassment
Act 1997. The information you are seeking is reasonably accessible by
other means and can be found by way of the following link to the MPS
Publication Scheme Disclosure Log in response to a previous similar
request. In particular, please see Section 17 of the Primary Investigation
of Crime SOP and Section 16 of the Secondary Investigation of Crime SOP
that specifically deal with harassment.

http://www.met.police.uk/foi/pdfs/disclo...

http://www.met.police.uk/foi/pdfs/disclo...

Section 16 - Advice and assistance

Section 16 of the Act places a duty upon a public authority to provide
advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the
authority to do so, to persons who make requests under the Act. I would
like to assist you further by explaining that whilst the MPS Primary and
Secondary Investigation of Crime SOP does not say that the accused should
be told or not told anything specific about an allegation, it does however
say that an investigation must take place which would usually include
getting an account from the victim, gathering evidence and by putting the
allegation to the accused. It also states that the warning should be given
for one occasion of harassment only, where a course of conduct is not
present and where another offence is also absent. In other words, one
instance of harassment can generate a letter.

The Harassment Form contains a section that should be completed by the
Officer in Charge (OIC) outlining the alleged conduct complained of by the
victim so it is clear to the accused that harassment has taken place.

The SOP stipulates that a full investigation must take place which
suggests that the accused should be spoken to about the offence either to
clear him of involvement or to put the allegation to him. This would
usually mean that the grounds and/or evidence will inevitably be put to
him/her during the course of that investigation, albeit each case should
be treated on its merit in relation to revelation of evidence, which may
in some cases be sensitive. The form must be completed to clearly outline
the nature of the harassment, as to not do so would completely defeat the
object of the letter as the accused would not know which behaviour to
stop. This will not necessarily include grounds or evidence but would
include details of the conduct.

Section 21 Information reasonably accessible by other means

Whenever the MPS refers an applicant to information that is already
published or accessible by other means we do so in accordance with Section
21 of the Act. The links provide you with the requested information (and
more) however, the use of Section 21 is technically a refusal as we are
providing you with details of where to obtain the information not
providing all the information itself. Therefore this letter serves as a
Section 17 refusal notice.

LEGAL ANNEX

Section 17 of the Act provides:

(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information,
is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in part II relating
to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim
that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying
with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-

(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption
applies.

Section 21 of the Act provides:

(1) Information which is reasonably accessible to the application
otherwise than under section 1 is exempt information
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

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Rob Willis left an annotation ()

Harassment warnings issued by the police are effectively judgement without trial. Anyone can make up any malicious claim they want about any individual. The police do not investigate claims of harassment, especially claims made by females against males.

Furthermore, if any subsequent claims are made by the original complainant, the police will then be considering an arrest, still without ever validating the claims made. Should you also have been a victim of harassment from the other party - as many men often are from the actions of spiteful ex-partners who often play the 'fear' card to get their way - then your claims will be ignored and theirs favoured.

Should you ever be on the receiving end of an harassment claim you are innocent of, refuse to sign anything. Then, if the police issue the harassment warning against you, demand that they either investigate the allegations or that the harassment warning is to be expunged from any CRB checks that could be made by future employees.

If you have an harassment warning against you it will remain on police computers, it will also influence the decisions of other officers should anything further arise. Regardless of the truth behind the harassment warning, they regard it as proof of your criminality.

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Vipin Chopra left an annotation ()

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

(Prevention of Harassment Letter)

My query is related to Prevention of Harassment Letter where the suspects released without caution and on the custody report clearly mentioned no further action taken against suspect but the same time issued a Prevention of Harassment Letter. will that be considered as a warning.

For more detail:

Letter stated in the first paragraph " An allegation has been made against you: TAHT YOU HAVE CONTACTED XYZ BY TEXT MESSAGE AND PHONE CALL NUMEROUS TIMES DESPITE BEING ASKED NO TO"

In the paragraph 2. Explained Harassment under ACT 1947 and below:
It is important you understand that should you commit any act or acts either directly or indirectly that amount to harassment, you may be liable to arrest and prosecution. A copy of this letter which has been served on you will be retained by police but will not be disclose now to alleged victim. However a copy could be disclosed in any subsequent criminal proceedings against you as proof that police have spoken to you about the allegation. this does not in any way constitute a crime record and will only be referred to should further allegations off harassment be received.

My Question is when person is served with 'NFA' Harassment without violence - Disposal at Time Date- No Further Action NFA- Insufficient Evidence

Does this Prevention of Harassment Letter will consider as Warning? if not then what it stands for?

I am eager to get a reply as I was told that even No Further Action due to Insufficient Evidence but still Prevention Of Harassment letter itself is a 'warning'

Please clarify me this confusion

I will be Thankful to You

Yours Faithfully
Vchopra

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