Unlawful arrests and/or based on mistaken identity

David Mery made this Freedom of Information request to Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

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 refused by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Please provide me for each month for the past ten years or the retained period if shorter, per borough (if possible), with the number of arrests found to be unlawful and the number of arrests based on mistaken identity.

Please provide this data in a spreadsheet format such as Excel readable format.

To avoid any confusion, the meaning of "arrests to be found unlawful" and "arrests based on mistaken identity" should be the as per the use of these terms in Version .1 of the "Early Deletion Requests - Consideration for the deletion of DNA samples, Fingerprint, PNC Records and CSIS Photographic Images." in the following paragraph: "The PoFA provides that consideration may be given for the early deletion of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) samples, fingerprint and Police National Computer (PNC) records relating to individuals whose arrest was found to be unlawful and/or based on mistaken identity." (as published at http://www.met.police.uk/foi/pdfs/other_...)

Yours faithfully,

David Mery

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Mery

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012060002099
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 18/06/2012.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

Please provide me for each month for the past ten years or the retained
period if shorter, per borough (if possible), with the number of arrests
found to be unlawful and the number of arrests based on mistaken identity.
       

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 email
or contact me on telephone number 020 7230 2003 quoting the reference
number above.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Beaumont
SC&O Information Manager
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).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk
Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Mery

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012060002099

I respond in connection with your request for information  which was
received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 18/06/2012.  I note
you seek access to the following information:

Please provide me for each month for the past ten years or the retained
period if shorter, per borough (if possible), with the number of arrests
found to be unlawful and the number of arrests based on mistaken identity.
 
       
This email is to inform you that it will not be possible to respond to
your request within the cost threshold.  In order to establish whether a
person was unlawfully arrested or arrested based on mistaken identity a
manual search would need to be undertaken of each record held on the Crime
Reporting Information System (CRIS) where all allegations of crimes are
recorded.  This would require an individual reading the 'Details of the
Investigation' to establish whether the arrest was lawful or whether the
correct person had been arrested.  The MPS would not record this
information anywhere else and CRIS has no searchable field to show whether
the arrest was lawful or whether someone was arrested through mistaken
identity.

In 2011, 968392 incidents were entered onto CRIS.  I conservatively
estimate that it would take an individual 5 minutes to search the 'Details
of Investigation' pages to establish whether the arrested person fell into
either of your criteria.  This would mean that for 2011 alone it would
take 968392 incidents x 5 minutes = 4841960 minutes or just over 80000
hours.

NB: The 'Details of Investigation' pages could range from 1 or 100 pages.

 We estimate that the cost of complying with this request would exceed the
appropriate limit. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations
and for agencies outside central Government; this is set at £450.00.  
This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 hours [at a
rate of £25 per hour] in determining whether the MPS holds the
information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act), this
email acts as a Refusal Notice.

Section 17(5) of the Act provides:

(5) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information,
is relying on a claim that section 12 or 14 applies must, within the time
for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that
fact.

Section 12 of the Act provides:

(1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a
request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of
complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit.

Under Section 16, (duty to assist), an authority is required to offer an
applicant the opportunity to redefine their request within the cost limit.
Unfortunately due to the rationale noted above, I am unable to suggest any
practical way in which your request may be modified in order to bring it
within the 18 hours stipulated by the Regulations.
 
NB A public authority is not obliged to assist an applicant in redefining
a request to within the time/cost limit, if there is no probability of
achieving this.

This was confirmed in Decision Notice 50194062.

If you wish to discuss redefining your request, please contact me on 020
7230 2003 or via email at the top of this email.

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 email
or contact me on telephone number 020 7230 2003 quoting the reference
number above.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Beaumont
SC&O Information Manager
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).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Dear Mr Beaumont,

Thank you for your response. I would appreciate your further assistance under s16. You wrote 'I am unable to suggest any practical way in which your request may be modified in order to bring it within the 18 hours stipulated by the Regulations.' I believe there may be several ways, but would appreciate your advice on how productive these may be before I effectively send a modified request.

Option a/ You 'conservatively estimate that it would take an individual 5 minutes to search the 'Details of Investigation' pages to establish whether the arrested person fell into either of your criteria.' Based on this estimate, one person could manually review 216 records within the 'cost of one person spending 18 hours [at a rate of £25 per hour]'.

So one way to approach this, would be to dip sample say the first 18 arrests of each month of 2011. Now this represents only 0.02 percent of the '968392 incidents [that] were entered onto CRIS [in 2011]', so unless there are many arrests found to be unlawful and based on mistaken identity, this work may not find any such record while taking valuable time of the MPS FoI staff.

Option b/ From your explanation I understand records of arrests found to be unlawful or based on mistaken identity cannot be found with a simple request as this information is available only in a non searchable field of CRIS. What may be stored in a more accessible way (e.g., a small database or a searchable field) would be records of complaints by individuals to the MPS about their arrests for being unlawful or based on mistaken identity.

Can you please provide s16 assistance as to whether redefining my original request along the lines of either of the two options suggested above, consistently with the assistance provided so far, would have a likely probability of finding some of the information I am looking for?

Yours faithfully,

David Mery

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Mery

Regarding option a, that you mention. I refer you to the fact that this is a conservative estimate and that some 'Details of Investigation' pages range into 3 figures or more. In these cases it would take much longer to search these pages and therefore 5 minutes would be an inadequate time in which to determine whether or not a person was unlawfully arrested or was arrested on mistaken identity. Therefore, once again costs would become an issue in a manual search of these pages.

Might I also point out that your original request is for 10 years worth of data and I gave 2011 as an example as to why it would not be possible to get you an answer within the cost limits as laid down in Section 12 of the Act.

Regarding option b, all reports of crime are entered onto CRIS and as such it is the only database that may show whether or not an arrested person falls into the criteria you are seeking. Complaints are not entered onto CRIS and are dealt with by a different unit and so I am unable to assist you in this area.

I draw your attention to Decision Notice 50194062, which states:

'A public authority is not obliged to assist an applicant in redefining a request to within the time/cost limit, if there is no probability of achieving this.'

This was also included in my response to you.

As I have stated in my response, I am unable to suggest any practical way in which your request may be modified in order to bring it within the 18 hours stipulated by the Regulations.

I am therefore, unable to offer you any further assistance in regard to redefining your request.

Yours sincerely

A Beaumont
SC&O Information Manager

show quoted sections

Dear Mr Beaumont,

Many thanks for your assistance. Even though you have refused my request, I am very appreciative of your prompt offers of assistance. I hope this is a sign of a more general change in the way the Met handle FoI requests.

Yours faithfully,

David Mery

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