Surveillance Authorities

A T Jones made this Freedom of Information request to Warwickshire Police

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 successful.

Dear Warwickshire Police,

In the 10 years prior to March 2018 please can you provide a per year breakdown of the following data for your organisation (ie granted by officers from your force, irrespective of where the surveillance took place);

1) How many authorisations for Directed Surveillance were granted

2) How many authorisations for Intrusive Surveillance were granted

3) How many authorisations for Property Interference were granted

Yours faithfully,

A T Jones

Information Compliance,

 
Dear Mr Jones
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NOs: West Mercia Police 10411 and
Warwickshire Police 10412
 
I write in connection with your request for West Mercia Police and
Warwickshire Police information which was dated and received on 9th
October 2018.
 
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 Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police 
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.
 
There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of
the information you request.  If this is the case you will be informed and
the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we receive payment
from you. If you chose not to make payment then your request will remain
unanswered.
 
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.
 
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
or telephone the Information Compliance Unit quoting the reference number
above.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
Sue Cale
Information Compliance Administrator
Information Compliance Unit
Warwickshire Police & West Mercia Police
P O Box 55
Hindlip  WR3 8SP
 
DD 01905 331545 (Ext. 2545)
[email address]
 
 
 
 

Information Compliance,

Dear Mr Jones

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NOs:  West Mercia Police 10411
and Warwickshire Police 10412

I write in connection with your requests for information which were
received on 9^th October 2018.  Please find below the responses to your
requests for West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police information:

In the 10 years prior to March 2018 please can you provide a per year
breakdown of the following data for your organisation (i.e. granted by
officers from your force, irrespective of where the surveillance took
place);

 

1) How many authorisations for Directed Surveillance were granted

 

 

REPLY:

 

Your request for information has now been considered and I am not obliged
to supply the information you have requested.

 

Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires West Mercia
Police and Warwickshire 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 to the information is:

Section 21. Information Reasonably Accessible by Other Means

This is an Absolute, class based exemption.

The number of directed surveillance for each force is collated annually by
the Investigatory Powers Commissioners Office (IPCO) please see the below
link for 2016 as an example. Therefore, for this question, Section 21 is
applied for information already in the public domain

 

[1]https://www.ipco.org.uk/docs/iocco/CCS20...

 

With regards to figures that are not yet available to view on the IPCO
website. The exemption applicable to this information is:

 

Section 22      Information intended for future publication.

 

Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act is a qualified and
class-based exemption.  As such, I am obliged to apply the public interest
test.

 

Public Interest Test:

 

Factors favouring disclosure:

There are no factors favouring disclosure. The number of directed
surveillance for each force are already published annually

Factors favouring non-disclosure:

 

It would not be in the public interest for Freedom of Information to be
used to obtain information which is already available, or will be made
available, under existing procedures. 

 

Balancing Test:

 

The public interest test is centred on whether this information should be
released to the world so that any person can view this information, not
just you as a requestor.

 

The information requested is published as a matter of course once it has
been properly prepared and verified. Researching, retrieving and releasing
this information prior to the completion of this process would not benefit
the core purpose of policing i.e. preventing or detecting crime and
preservation of life.

 

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

 

 

2) How many authorisations for Intrusive Surveillance were granted

3) How many authorisations for Property Interference were granted

 

REPLY:

 

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties
on public authorities.  Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section
1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a
request is held.  The second duty at Section 1(1)(b) is to disclosure
information that has been confirmed as being held.  Where exemptions are
relied upon Section 17 of the 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.

 

The Alliance can neither confirm nor deny that it holds information
pertinent to this request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following
exemptions:

 

Section 44(2) Prohibitions on Disclosure

Section 40(5) Personal Information

Section 23(5) Information relating to the Security Bodies

Section 24(2) National Security

Section 30(3) Investigations

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

 

This should not be taken as conclusive evidence that any information that
would meet your request exists or does not exist.

 

Sections 44, 40 and 23 are absolute exemptions which means that the
legislators have identified that harm would be caused by any release.  In
addition there is no requirement to consider the public interest test.

Section 30 is a class based qualified exemption which means the public
interest must be considered.

With Sections 24(2) and 31(3) being prejudiced based qualified exemptions,
there is a requirement for us to evidence harm in confirming or denying
information is held and also consider the public interest. 

 

Harm in Confirming or Denying Information is Held

Every effort should be made to release information under Freedom of
Information.  However, to confirm or deny many of the policing actions
around surveillance operations which by default is RIPA information, would
undermine ongoing investigations, reveal policing techniques, contravene
legislation, risk the identification of individuals, the possibility of
revealing involvement of any exempt bodies and the risk in undermining
National Security. 

 

Irrespective of whether information is or isn’t held, to confirm or deny
whether the Alliance has carried out any surveillance operations which
would incorporate directed or intrusive surveillance the Alliance would
compromise ongoing operations and investigations, some of which may be
covert, and undermine the effective delivery of operational law
enforcement by revealing tactical capability of the Alliance.

The Police Service would never divulge information regarding whether or
not specific covert tactical options are or are not used.  To do so would
undermine both tactical and investigative processes; these processes
should be protected to the utmost degree, in line with relevant
legislation.

The impact of confirming or denying the use of covert tactical options,
would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 19(2)(e) and
19(4) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

 

By merely citing an exemption (confirming information is held relative to
this request) or stating ‘no information held’ would reveal whether or not
these covert tactics have or have not been used and would be inappropriate
as it would reveal police ‘intelligence’ about the activity of ongoing
police investigations.

 

The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored.  It is generally recognised
that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and
unpredictable.  The current UK threat level from international terrorism,
based on intelligence, is Severe, which means that a terrorist attack is
highly likely.

In order to counter criminal and terrorist behaviour it is vital that the
police have the ability to work together, where necessary covertly, to
obtain intelligence within current legislative frameworks to assist in the
investigative process to ensure the successful arrest and prosecution of
offenders who commit or plan to commit acts of terrorism. 

To achieve this goal, it is vitally important that information sharing
takes place between police officers, members of the public, police forces
as well as other security law enforcement bodies within the United
Kingdom.  This information sharing supports counter-terrorism measures in
the fight to deprive terrorist networks of the ability to commit crime.

 

To confirm or deny whether information is held relevant to this case would
be extremely useful to those involved in criminal activities and also
terrorists as it would enable them to identify whether specific covert
tactical options are being used.

 

Public Interest Considerations

Section 24(2) National Security

Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that
information is held

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and resources
distributed within an area of policing.  To confirm whether information
exists relating to a specific type of covert tactical option would enable
the general public to hold the Alliance to account where these tactics are
utilised.  

 

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming or denying that
any information is held

As evidenced within the harm to confirm detail of specific covert tactics
that may or may not have taken place would highlight to campaigners,
terrorists and individuals intent on carrying out criminal behaviour,
covert policing tactical activity.  This would ultimately increase the
risk of harm to the general public and significantly undermine any ongoing
or future operations to protect the security or infrastructure of the
United Kingdom.

 

Irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, the public entrust the
Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety
and protection and the only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with
what is placed into the public domain.

 

The cumulative effect of terrorists gathering information from various
sources would be even more impactive when linked to other information
gathered from various sources about terrorism.  The more information
disclosed over time will give a more detailed account of the tactical
infrastructure of not only a force but also a country as a whole. 

Any incident that results from such a disclosure would by default affect
National Security.

 

By confirming or denying any policing arrangements of this nature would
render national security measures less effective.  This would lead to the
compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or
infra-structure of the UK and increase the risk of harm to the public.

 

Section 30(3) Investigations

Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that
information is held

Confirming or denying whether information exists relevant to this request
would lead to a better informed general public identifying that police
robustly investigate offences which may encourage individuals to provide
intelligence in order to assist with investigations and reduce crime. 
This would further promote public trust in providing transparency and
demonstrating openness and accountability into where the police are
currently focusing their investigations.  The public are entitled to know
how public funds are spent, particularly in the current economic climate.

The issue of surveillance and privacy is a highly emotive subject area
often attracting high profile media.  Confirming or denying that
information exists could provide reassurance to the general public. 

 

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) neither confirming nor
denying that information exists

Modern-day policing is intelligence led and the Alliance share information
with other law enforcement agencies as part of their investigative
processes.  To confirm or not whether specific covert tactical options
have or have not been used could hinder the prevention and detection of
crime as well as undermine the partnership approach to investigations and
law enforcement.

Should offenders take evasive action to avoid detection police resources
may well be diverted from frontline duties and other areas of policing to
locate and apprehend these individuals.  In addition, the safety of
individuals and victims would be compromised. 

 

Section 31

Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) to confirm or deny that
information is held

There is a vast amount of information within the public domain relating to
this subject and that in itself is considered to be a factor for
disclosure.

 

Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) neither confirming nor
denying that information exists

Confirming whether or not information is held in this case would
compromise the safety of individuals who are the target of such
offending.  Public safety is of paramount importance and if offenders are
provided with confirmation by police that they are actively carrying out
surveillance would undermine law enforcement and thereby compromising
public safety.

 

Balancing Test

The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying whether
information pertinent to this request exists.  The security of the country
is of paramount importance and the Police Service is charged with
enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the
communities we serve.  As part of that policing purpose, various covert
policing tactics may or may not be used.  The Police Service will not
divulge whether any other information is or is not held if to do so would
place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine National Security. 
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 both National
Security and the integrity of policing tactics.  As much as there is
public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and
balanced in matters of National Security, this will only be overridden in
exceptional circumstances.

 

In addition any disclosure by the Alliance that places the security of the
country at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or
confidence individuals have in us.  Therefore, 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 this refusal that information is or isn’t
held.

 

Your attention is drawn to the below which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
or telephone the Information Compliance Unit quoting the reference number
above.

Yours sincerely

 

Victoria Lewis

Information Compliance Unit
Warwickshire Police & West Mercia Police

PO Box 55

Hindlip

Worcester

WR3 8SP

01905 331545 / 331565

 

 

West Mercia Police in complying with their statutory duty under sections 1
and 11 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release the enclosed
information will not breach the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
However, the rights of the copyright owner of the enclosed information
will continue to be protected by law. Applications for the copyright
owner’s written permission to reproduce any part of the attached
information should be addressed to The Force Solicitor, West Mercia Police
Headquarters, PO Box 55, Hindlip, Worcester, WR3 8SP.

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 West Mercia Police (WMP) to review their
decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the person 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
contact the person named 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
WMP made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information, you can lodge a complaint with WMP to have the
decision reviewed. WMP must be notified of your intention to complain
within 20 working days of the date of its response to your Freedom of
Information request. Complaints should be made in writing and addressed
to:

West Mercia Police Headquarters

Information Compliance Unit

Hindlip Hall

Hindlip

PO Box 55

Worcester

WR3 8SP

or

Email:  [email address]

In all possible circumstances, WMP will aim to respond to your complaint
within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with WMP 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 https://ico.org.uk/ Alternatively, phone or
write to:

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Phone: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545745 if you prefer to use a
national rate number

Fax:     01625 524 510

 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ipco.org.uk/docs/iocco/CCS20...