Recording the Costs of Crime

Richard Taylor made this Freedom of Information request to Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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

The request was partially successful.

Richard Taylor

At around 0400 on the 15th of November 2008 a large number of cars were damaged in the Arbury area of Cambridge. Could you please let me know:

i/ According to your records how many vehicles were damaged?

ii/ For how many of those vehicles have the police been made aware of the cost of repair?

iii/ What do the police believe was the total value of damage done during that incident? On what basis has this figure been calculated?

iv/ Has anyone been put before the courts with respect to this incident? Was any compensation awarded to those whose property had been damaged?

Incident number 15/11/08-144 was issued in respect of at least some of the damage done on the occasion I am referring to.

Many thanks,

--

Richard Taylor

Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

I am campaigning for my local police to do better at recording the costs of crime. My request refers to a situation where I do not believe they made sufficient effort to find out, and record, the costs of repairing damage done.

I have written an article on my website about the background to this request.

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/asking-the-poli...

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Dear Richard

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 0353/2009

We acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information (FOI) request which
was received by Cambridgeshire Constabulary on 3rd July 2009.

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. You will receive a response within the statutory
timescale of twenty working days as defined by the Act. In some
circumstances, we may be unable to achieve this deadline. If this is the
case, you will be informed and given a revised time-scale at the earliest
opportunity.

If we require any further clarification regarding this request, you will be
notified.

We would advise you that the nature of certain requests may involve payment
of a fee. If this is the case, you will be notified.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
telephone on 0845 456 456 4 asking for the Information Access Office or
email [Cambridgeshire Constabulary request email]

Regards

David Price
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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Cambridgeshire Constabulary

1 Attachment

Dear Richard

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 0353/2009

In reply to your request for information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000, dated 3rd July 2009 and received in Cambridgeshire as follows:

At around 0400 on the 15th of November 2008 a large number of cars were
damaged in the Arbury area of Cambridge. Could you please let me know:

1. According to your records how many vehicles were damaged?

2. For how many of those vehicles have the police been made aware of the
cost of repair?

3. What do the police believe was the total value of damage done during
that incident? On what basis has this figure been calculated?

4. Has anyone been put before the courts with respect to this incident?

5. Was any compensation awarded to those whose property had been
damaged?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (The Act) requires us to handle all
requests in a manner that is blind to the identity of the requestor. Any
information released in response to a request is regarded as being
published, and therefore in the public domain without caveat.

We have completed all searches within Cambridgeshire Constabulary and
hereby enclose your response.

1. Initial investigation revealed that as many as 13 vehicles may have
been damaged that night. It is feasible that there may have been more
vehicles affected than this since the offenders fled the area. Similarly,
there may have been fewer vehicles affected since we would have no
knowledge of when such vehicles were damaged if no report was made to us.
There is no obligation on the part of a vehicle owner to report damage and
the lack of reporting may be due to the owners not being local residents
and choosing to report the damage where they reside; because the damage was
not related to this incident or because the perceived cost of the damage
was low.

In respect of the remainder of your questions, and with regard to Section 1
(1)(a) of the FOI Act I can confirm that Cambridgeshire Constabulary do
hold information about how many cars were reported to us as having been
damaged and the estimated cost of repair, and whether individuals have thus
far been charged with any offence.

Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires Cambridgeshire
Constabulary, 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 to the information is: Section 30 (1)(a) -
Investigations and proceedings conducted by the public authority.

S30 is a qualified, class-based exemption which means that even as the
information is exempt, a public interest test must be conducted in order to
consider whether the public interest outweighs the exemption.

The exemption applies to information which has been held at any time for
the purposes of an investigation whether the case is ongoing, closed or
abandoned. To disclose information about any ongoing investigation would
risk undermining the human right of any suspect to a fair trial and more
importantly the rights of the victim or victims if a prosecution were to
fail because of an adverse disclosure. There are established procedures in
place for disclosure when to do so would aid an ivestigation; for example
an appeal for witnesses.

Public Interest Test

For Disclosure

Accountability

Information relating to the progress of an investigaion would show that
the force is taking its responsibility toward this type of crime
seriously, ensuring that an efficient and effective service is
delivered.

Public Awareness and Debate

The release of information on this subject would contribute to the
quality and accuracy of public debate on the subject. Public awareness
can best be served by being given the information required for a
discussion based on reliable facts and remove ill-informed argument or
conjecture.

Against disclosure

Interests of 3rd Parties

To release the level of detail requested would impact on the interest of
third parties by having the potential to show individual costs incurred
in these acts of damage. This may concern the interest of the insurers,
the insured and anyone who has been identified as causing the damage
since any compensation or punishment may take this into consideration.

Human Rights, Morals and Ethics

Public interest cannot be served if disclosure would breach the
obligation placed upon the Constabulary under the European Convention on
Human Rights and in particular to a life, a fair trial, life or to
privacy.

Investigations

To disclose information about any investigation will inevitably release
personal information, law enforcement techniques and in the case of
uncompleted cases potentially damage the criminal justice process.

BALANCE TEST

The most compelling argument for the release of the information is that
of Accountability. Set against this is the prime counter-argument of
Investigations and it is my consideration that this is the prevailing
argument since it is not in the public interest to damage the criminal
justice process.

Following on from this pair of arguments, the remaining disclosure
argument is that of Public Awareness and Debate which can be countered
by the Human Rights consideration. I also find that the non-disclosure
argument is the stronger since the right to a fair trial is a right
which underpins the justice system.

With no further argument in favour of disclosure and there being one
remaining in favour of non-disclosure, there is further weight toward
non-disclosure.

It is my decision therefore not to disclose the remaining information.

In accordance with the Act, this letter represents a Refusal Notice for
this particular request.

If you are unhappy with this response, please see the attachment below,
which sets out your rights to appeal.

(See attached file: Complaint Rights.pdf)

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact the Information Access Office via email, or on telephone number
0345 456 456 4 extension 8164.

Regards

David Price
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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Richard Taylor

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 0353/2009

FAO: Information Access Office,

Many thanks for your response to my freedom of information request. I appreciate the detailed reasoning which has accompanied the decision.

I would like to request an internal review into both your response to my first question and your decision not to release the information which I sought via my other questions.

In respect of my first question I asked: "According to your records how many vehicles were damaged?". I did not ask for an estimate of how many vehicles had in fact been damaged, though the answer given appears to have addressed that question. The response does not make clear how the number "13" provided in the response was arrived at, there is no assurance this is the actual number formally recorded.

In order to properly assess the validity of your public interest arguments it would be necessary to know if there was in fact an upcoming court case with respect to this spate of damage. If there is no ongoing investigation, or no impending court case, then your argument against disclosure would in my view be much weaker. I would hope that the person conducting the internal review would be aware of the state of any investigation or any impending court case and take that into account when reconsidering if the information I have requested ought be released.

I disagree with the suggestion that interests of third parties, specifically their privacy, would be affected by responding to my request. In relation to the question of: "For how many of those vehicles have the police been made aware of the cost of repair?" I am only seeking a number of vehicles. I did not ask for personal information, or in my view for personally identifiable information. If in fact the answer to my question is that the police have not been made aware of the cost of repair in relation to any of the damage then there is no way privacy could be affected. Even in the extreme case of details of the cost of repair being known for only one of the thirteen or so there vehicles there is no way for someone to determine which vehicle the police are aware of the cost of repair of.

I would like to stress that I agree with all of your reasons given for there being a public interest in disclosing the information I am seeking, and I would like you to give more weight to them. I think the argument for properly informing public debate is particularly strong on the grounds that the way the police record crime in Cambridge has been debated at a number of Cambridge City Council meetings and there have been resolutions passed relating to the subject. If the police are serious about allowing local people to have their say in setting local policing priorities then we must have access to the information needed to ensure that the arguments made are well informed and not based on anomalous experiences of individuals or small groups. I would suggest there is a public interest in getting value for money from funds spent on public engagement, and a secretive approach to requests such as mine is not likely to assist that.

I would like to ask you to consider the public interest in improving the way Cambridgeshire police record crime, including ensuring the costs of loss and damage are recorded so that individuals can be sentenced appropriately and so the courts have the full information available to them while considering compensation orders. A substantive response to this request may assist in demonstrating the need for that improvement.

The full text of the correspondence relating to this request can be viewed online at:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/re...

--

Richard Taylor

Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Dear Richard

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 0353/2009

We acknowledge receipt of your request for an Internal Review of our
response to your request dated 3rd July 2009 concerning the recording of
the costs of crime.

Your appeal will now be considered when the Appeal Panel convenes on
Thursday 10th September 2009. You will be notified of the outcome of this
appeal in writing.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
telephone on 0345 456 456 4 asking for the Information Access Office or
email [Cambridgeshire Constabulary request email]

Regards

David Price
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Dear Mr Taylor

Our response to your appeal was forwarded to you this morning via email but
has been returned as 'undeliverable'. In light of this, could you please
provide your address details in order that we can forward your response by
letter without further delay.

yours faithfully

David Price
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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Dear David,

Could you please re-send your response to my FOI request (ref.0353/2009) which you told me bounced on the 14th of September.

Given that your next email, letting me know the first one bounced, got through without a problem it appears that any problem was transitory.

Regards,

--

Richard Taylor

Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

1 Attachment

Mr Taylor

As requested I am attaching the response we tried to send before.

(See attached file: FOI letter Mr Taylor.doc)

Regards - Alec Taylor
Information Access Office
Cambridgeshire Constabulary


Richard Taylor
<request-14036-74
79972b@whatdothey To
know.com> [Cambridgeshire Constabulary request email]
cc
16/09/2009 03:14
Subject
Re: Freedom of Information request
- Recording the Costs of Crime





Dear David,

Could you please re-send your response to my FOI request
(ref.0353/2009) which you told me bounced on the 14th of September.

Given that your next email, letting me know the first one bounced,
got through without a problem it appears that any problem was
transitory.

Regards,

--

Richard Taylor

Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

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Cambridgeshire Constabulary

1 Attachment

Please find attached the letter following the Appeals Panel of 10th
September.

I am sorry about the late communication but the email address I was first
given was incorrect and I therefore received a "not delivered" message. I
would normally send out communication from the Appeals Panel via post but
unfortunately I didn't have an address for you either.

Kind regards

Niki Howard

(See attached file: FOI letter Mr Taylor.doc)

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Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

I did wonder why the latter letters were signed by:

"Niki Howard, Director of Resources (ACPO)"

What I believe is being indicated here is not that Niki Howard is acting in an ACPO role in relation to the internal review; but that they are a member of the police civilian staff of a seniority equivalent to an "ACPO" ranking officer.