Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Legislation.

Charles Marston made this Freedom of Information request to Law Commission

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.

Dear Law Commission,
I write to you to request a copy of all correspondence, including attachments, between representatives of the National Ballistics Intelligence Service and yourselves relating to the Law Commission's scoping consultation paper into firearms law, between 1st January and 20th July 2015.

If you assess that the cost of compiling that information would be excessive, please limit my request in scope from March 1st until 20th July, or whatever timescale you assess will fit within the cost limits in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Marston

Communications Law Com, Law Commission

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LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

Dear Mr Marston

Thank you for your request for information received in this office on 10 August 2015. We acknowledge receipt. We are handling your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We will respond to you as promptly as possible and, in any event, will provide
the information you seek within 20 working days from receipt of your request, unless it transpires that we do not hold the information or that the information is exempt from disclosure. In the latter event, we will advise you why the information sought cannot be disclosed. Your request for information will be handled within the Commission by the criminal law team. If you have any query in the meantime relating to your request, please contact me in my role as the Commission's FoI co-ordinator.

Yours sincerely

Dan Leighton | Law Commission | FoI Co-ordinator

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Laird, Karl, Law Commission

30 Attachments

Dear Mr Marston,

 

Thank you for your email of 9 August. We are required to respond within 20
working days of receipt of your request, which makes the deadline the 8
September.

 

You asked:

 

 1. For all correspondence, including any attachments, between the
National Ballistics Intelligence Service and the Law Commission,
relating to the Law Commission's scoping consultation paper into
firearms law, between 1st January and 20th July 2015.

 

Please let me know if I have misunderstood, and if there are any more
requests for information contained within your email of the 9 August.

 

Please find attached to this email the correspondence and attachments you
requested. One attachment has not been included, however. The reasons why
are given below. By way of explaining the methodology we relied upon to
fulfil your request for information, all members of the team working on
the firearms project searched both their inboxes and outboxes for any
relevant correspondence. All relevant correspondence was then saved as a
PDF file and redacted to remove any personal information, such as postal
addresses and telephone numbers.

 

In relation to the email we have designated JC23, I have not included the
file that was attached to that email, as it falls within two exemptions
contained within the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

This information was provided to the Law Commission in confidence. Section
41(1) provides that information is exempt information if it was obtained
by us from any other person and the disclosure of the information by us
would constitute an actionable breach of confidence. In considering
whether this exemption is applicable, I have had to consider whether
disclosure of this information would constitute an actionable breach of
confidence. Three elements must be present in order for there to be an
actionable breach of confidence. The first is that the information must
have the necessary quality of confidence about it.  I believe this element
is satisfied given that the sender of the information expressly stated it
was being supplied to us in confidence. This is clear from email JC23. The
second element is that the information must have been imparted in
circumstances importing an obligation of confidence. I believe this
element is satisfied given that the information is protectively marked,
which although not determinative it is a relevant consideration, and also
because the person who sent us the information stated that ‘The data is
for your information only to assist with the Firearms Review’. Finally, it
is necessary to consider whether disclosure of the information would be
detrimental to whoever provided it. There is authority to suggest that it
is sufficient to establish detriment to the provider of the information if
it were to be disclosed to a person whom he or she would prefer not to
know it. I believe this element is satisfied, given what is said in email
JC23 about the potentially harmful consequences of disclosing this
information.  The exemption in section 41(1) is absolute and as such does
not require consideration of the public interest. I have, however,
considered the public interest in evaluating whether disclosure of the
information would constitute an actionable breach of confidence. In doing
so I have taken into consideration the FOI Act principles of transparency
and accountability and the fact that the public interest in disclosure may
outweigh both private and public interests in the protection of
confidence. I have arrived at the conclusion that in this instance the
public interest comes down in favour of honouring the obligation of
confidence imposed upon us by the sender of this information.

 

In addition, section 31(1) of the Freedom of Information Act provides that
information is exempt information if its disclosure would, or would be
likely, to prejudice a number of interests listed in that section. For
this exemption to apply, it is first necessary to consider the potential
for one of these interests to be prejudiced. The term ‘would be likely to
prejudice’ in this context means a risk that is real, actual and of
substance. In this instance, I have concluded there is a real risk that
disclosure of this information would, or would be likely, to prejudice the
prevention and detection of crime and/or the apprehension or prosecution
of offenders. In this instance, I have taken into consideration the fact
that in response to a Parliamentary question on the number of illegal
firearms in the UK, the Minister confirmed that NABIS assesses the volume
and type of firearms in the UK, but did not answer the question on the
basis that the information was operationally sensitive and not suitable
for release (Firearms: Licensing: Written question 221414).  The
information in this attachment is of a similar nature.  It is then
necessary to consider whether there is a causal relationship between
disclosure and the claimed prejudice. Given the nature of the information,
I believe there is a causal link between disclosure and prejudice to one
or both of the interests identified above. Finally, it is necessary to
assess whether there is a real and significant risk that prejudice will
occur if there is disclosure. Once again, given the nature of the
information, I have concluded that there is a real and significant risk
that detriment to the prevention and detection of crime and/or the
apprehension or prosecution of offenders would occur should the
information be disclosed. Section 31(1) is a qualified exemption. This
means it is necessary to consider whether the public interest in
maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information. Having taken into account the FOI Act principles of
transparency and accountability and weighed them against the likely
prejudice caused by disclosure, I have concluded that in this instance the
public interest is in maintaining the exemption.

 

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please contact Dan Leighton, our FoI co-ordinator, who will
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this letter.
If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,

Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

t. 0303-123-1113

w. [1]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if I might be of further
assistance.

 

All the best

 

Karl Laird

 

 

Karl Laird| Law Commission
Team Lawyer (Criminal Law Team)
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.54, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3162 | Fax: 020 3334 0201 | Web: [2]www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [3][email address]

 

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copies and inform the sender by return e-mail.

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could be intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear that in
mind when deciding whether to send material in response to this message
by e-mail.

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monitored, recorded and retained by the Ministry of Justice. E-mail
monitoring / blocking software may be used, and e-mail content may be
read at any time. You have a responsibility to ensure laws are not
broken when composing or forwarding e-mails and their contents.

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