Trawling as a Method of Investigation (Patients)

Wendy Hesketh made this Freedom of Information request to Central Scotland 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 Central Scotland Police,

I am currently undertaking academic research into the issue of 'Trawling' as a method of police investigation in relation to malpractice/crimes allegedly committed by health professionals. For your information, I use the term 'Trawling' to mean the police’s use of current or previous lists of doctors' or hospitals' patients to identify and to contact people to ask them to contribute to the police investigation. It might also involve contacting current and ex-patients via the media. It can also involve a close working relationship between the police investigating doctors and solicitors representing alleged patient-victims.

This term has been adapted (to suit the health setting) from The Home Affairs Select Committee (2002), Fourth Report: The Conduct of Investigations into Past Cases of Abuse in Children's Homes. London: House of Commons Publications, 22 October 2002, which is available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

With this information in mind, I would appreciate your responses to the following questions:

Q1. Has Central Scotland Police ever investigated crimes allegedly committed by a health professional against a patient (or former patient)? If not, please confirm and ignore the remaining questions.

Q2. Has central Scotland Police ever used a trawling method to investigate potential crime(s) committed by a health professional? That is, did the force's officers use either a hospital's or GPs' practice lists of current or previous patients to engage with patients (as possible witnesses/victims)?

Q3. If Central Scotland Police did NOT use a trawling method of investigation into the alleged crimes of a health professional, can you please explain, briefly, how the crime was investigated instead? Perhaps e.g. officers took statements only from those who made complaints directly to the police.

Q4. If Central Scotland Police DID use a trawling method of investigation into the alleged crimes of a health professional, can you please identify, if not the name, then at least the rank of the person who sanctioned the release of the patient list(s)? That is, the rank of the person in both the police and, if possible, the health authority/hospital?

Q5. If Central Scotland Police have used a trawling method of investigation to investigate a health professional in the past 10 years, can you please list their details and the outcome of those investigations.

Q6. Has Central Scotland Police used this trawling method of investigation in other settings, such as children's homes or care homes? Details would be most helpful.

Q7. Has Central Scotland Police received any criticism regarding this form of investigation? If so, how did Central Scotland Police deal with that criticism?

Q8. Lastly, who is responsible for sanctioning this type of
investigation (and when it should apply in the individual case)? E.g. is it the Chief Constable, in each individual case?

Arguably, as this - trawling - issue has already been publicly debated, then it would be unacceptable for you to argue that releasing such information might prejudice operational procedures.

Further, I appreciate that information about individuals not already in the public domain may be subject to Data Protection and, in order to satisfy your responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, you may omit any identifying details (however, this arguably does not apply to those convicted because there will already exist a public record of that conviction).

I trust that you will answer this request within the statutory timescale.

Yours faithfully,

Wendy Hesketh

Freedom Of Information, Central Scotland Police

NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Wendy Hesketh

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - Clarification

Thank you for your request for information received on 5th April, 2011,
and is being dealt with this in accordance with the Freedom of Information
(Scotland) Act 2002.

I write to seek clarification on your request as follows:

Request : As below

Clarification Required :

Question 1, 2, 3 6 and 7 is seeking an opinion or yes / no response,
rather than information which is recorded / held by the Central Scotland
Police Force accordingly it does not conform to the definition of a
request for information in Section 8 of FOI(S)A 'an authority does not
have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information
or giving an opinion or judgement that is not already recorded'.

For further information on how to request recorded information please see
the Scottish Information Commissioners website link at :
[1]http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourR...

I look forward to receiving your amended request and happy to provide
assistance if needed.

Please note : Until your clarification is received the statutory 20
working day clock has stopped and will begin once your clarification has
been received.

If you require any clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me on
01786 456000 or Email: [2][email address] .
However, if you are not satisfied with the way in which your request has
been handled, you are entitled, in the first instance, to request a Review
of the decisions made. Should you wish to request a Review, please write
to Head of Professional Standards, Professional Standards Department,
Central Scotland Police, Police Headquarters, Randolphfield, Stirling FK8
2HD within 40 working days of receiving this correspondence.

If, after receiving a response, you remain dissatisfied, you have six
months within which you may Appeal to the Scottish Information
Commissioner who can be contacted at Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St
Andrews, Fife, KY16 9DS. Phone: 01334 464610 Fax: 01334 464611 or Email
[3][email address] .

Yours sincerely

Kind regards
Ilene

Freedom of Information Officer

Central Scotland Police
Police Headquarters

Tel: 01786 456000 Ext : 2774
Fax: 01786 456388
Email: [4][Central Scotland Police request email]

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Dear Freedom Of Information,

Thank you for your letter of 20th April 2011, asking me to refine my FOI Request. I would like to clarify the request I made to you on the 5th of April 2011. This is my refined request.

Q1. Please provide details of any doctor who has been convicted of crimes that Central Scotland Police has reported to the GMC since 2006 (under their duty to report cautions or convictions of doctors to the GMC).

Q2. Of those cases, please give details (the doctor's name and surgery address and what he or she was convicted of) of any case where the crime took place at the doctor's surgery.

Q3. Please list the number and give brief details of documents (such as title of document) held by Central Scotland Police in relation to any crime committed in a doctor's surgery that a doctor has been convicted of since 2006. That is, please provide a list of documents that you have, if any, in relation to question 2.

In order to satisfy your responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, you may omit any identifying details. However, this arguably does not apply to those convicted because there will already exist
a public record of that conviction.

With thanks.

Yours faithfully,

Wendy Hesketh

Freedom Of Information, Central Scotland Police

NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Ms Hesketh,

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Thank you for your request for information received and subsequently
clarifies on 20th April. Please accept my apologies for the delay in
responding. Central Scotland Police have received a very large number of
requests for information in recent months and this has stretched the
resources available. I have now dealt with this request in accordance with
the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and respond as follows :

Request(s):

Q1. Please provide details of any doctor who has been convicted of crimes
that Central Scotland Police has reported to the GMC since 2006 (under
their duty to report cautions or convictions of doctors to the GMC).

Q2. Of those cases, please give details (the doctor's name and surgery
address and what he or she was convicted of) of any case where the crime
took place at the doctor's surgery.

Q3. Please list the number and give brief details of documents (such as
title of document) held by Central Scotland Police in relation to any
crime committed in a doctor's surgery that a doctor has been convicted of
since 2006. That is, please provide a list of documents that you have, if
any, in relation to question 2.

Responses:
1. As the police in Scotland notify professional bodies at the stage where
a suspect is charged and are not normally notified by the Scottish Courts
Service of any subsequent convictions, the information requested is not
held by Central Scotland Police. However, by way of advice and assistance
I can report that 1 medical practitioner was charged by Central Scotland
Police in the period between 1st January 2006 and the date of your
request.
2. The offence did not take place at the doctor's surgery, and
consequently the information requested is not held.
3. Given the answer to question 2, the information requested is not held
by Central Scotland Police.

You should be aware that Central Scotland Police hold the Copyright for
the material provided and it may not be reproduced in any format or media
without acquiring specific permission. This will also be subject to the
material not being used in a derogatory manner or in a misleading context.
The source of the material must then be acknowledged as Central Scotland
Police, and the title of the document must be included when being
reproduced as part of another publication or service.

Police forces in the United Kingdom are routinely required to provide
crime statistics to government bodies and the recording criteria is set
nationally. However, the systems used for recording these figures are not
generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the crime data.
It should be noted that for these reasons this force's response to your
questions should not be used for comparison purposes with any other
response you may receive.

If you require any clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me on
01786 456000 or Email: [1][email address] . However,
if you are not satisfied with the way in which your request has been
handled, you are entitled, in the first instance, to request a Review of
the decisions made. Should you wish to request a Review, please write to
Head of Professional Standards, Professional Standards Department, Central
Scotland Police, Police Headquarters, Randolphfield, Stirling FK8 2HD
within 40 working days of receiving this correspondence

If, after receiving a response, you remain dissatisfied, you have six
months within which you may Appeal to the Scottish Information
Commissioner who can be contacted at Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St
Andrews, Fife, KY16 9DS. Phone: 01334 464610 Fax: 01334 464611 or Email
[2][email address] .

Yours sincerely,

John Brims
Records Manager
Central Scotland Police
Police Headquarters
Randolphfield
Stirling FK8 2HD

Tel: 01786 456387 Ext : 2387
Fax: 01786 456388
Email: [3][email address]

NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

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FAO John Brims
Records Manager

Dear Mr. Brims,

Thank you for your response to my FOI request. I really appreciate the detail that you have gone into in answering my questions -that is most helpful, thank you. I'm not surprised it takes you a while to respond to everyone, given the seriousness with which you approach your task! I am most grateful for your efforts.

Best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Hesketh