Use of buses by Metropolitan Police

Brian Tanning made this Freedom of Information request to Transport for London

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 Transport for London,

Please provide any internal documentation outlining the policy regarding, or identifying people who act as contact points for, any arrangements to provide buses at short notice for the use of the Metropolitan Police.

Please provide any correspondence with the Metropolitan Police whereby such arrangements (including any standing arrangement) have been negotiated.

Please provide any correspondence, or any record of communications, whereby the immediate (or near term) use of such arrangement was requested, proposed or discussed.

Yours faithfully,

Brian Tanning

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Tanning

 

TfL Ref: FOI-1358-1314

 

Thank you for your email which we received on 30 October 2013 asking for
information about the use of buses by the Metropolitan Police Service.

 

Your request will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the
Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. 

 

A response will be provided to you by 27 November 2013.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Tanning

 

TfL Ref: FOI-1358-1314

 

Thank you for your email which we received on 30 October 2013 asking for
information about the use of buses by the Metropolitan Police Service.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and TfL’s information access policy. 

 

Because we are still in process of collating the information you have
requested, we will not be able to resolve your request within the
statutory 20 working day.

 

We intend to provide you with a full response by 11 December 2013. Please
accept my apologies for this delay.

 

In the meantime, if you have any queries relating to your request, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Tanning

 

TfL Ref: FOI-1358-1314

 

Thank you for your email which we received on 30 October 2013 asking for
policy documentation about the use of buses by the Metropolitan Police
Service (MPS). Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and our information access policy. 

 

Unfortunately we do not hold the information you have requested.

 

There is no internal written procedure for procuring buses for the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to carry prisoners. This is not one of
our responsibilities; it is part of the MPS planning process for policing
demonstrations to make contingency arrangements for carrying prisoners.
However, as partners working together with the MPS, we have in some
circumstances been approached and used our contacts with various bus
operators to help facilitate this at the expense of the police. The police
are responsible for this arrangement and all buses hired are fully funded
by the MPS. Their contact details can be found at
[1]http://www.met.police.uk/foi/.

 

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

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Dear Transport for London,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Transport for London's handling of my FOI request 'Use of buses by Metropolitan Police'.

I appreciate that the person responding to my request probably did try to get the information requested. However: I am in the position, as a person making an FOI request, of not knowing what information you hold and therefore needing to cover all possibilities in my request, since a narrowly defined request would be turned down without further explanation if the information you held did not fit the narrow definition.
It is therefore frustrating when I take care to include all the possibilites and the person reading my request simply skips over the long sentences that result and replies as if my request was about only one of those possibilities.

I asked for:

1) any internal documentation either
(1a) outlining a policy regarding,
or (1b) identifying people who act as contact points for,
any arrangements to provide buses at short notice for the use of the
Metropolitan Police.

Then I asked for:

2) any correspondence with the Metropolitan Police
whereby such arrangements (including any standing arrangement) have
been negotiated.

So the arrangements I ask for in 2) are the same as those in 1) - 'any arrangements to provide buses at short notice for the use of the Metropolitan Police'. The fact that you didn't hold any information which comes under 1a), or 1), doesn't mean that 2) falls away.

You need to read 2) as saying 'Please provide any correspondence with the Metropolitan Police whereby any arrangements to provide buses at short notice for the use of the Metropolitan Police (including any standing arrangement) have been negotiated.

If it is a standing arrangement, then negotiating the arrangement is done both when the arrangement is first dreamt up and then it would be further negotiated (in terms of numbers, times, etc.) when a specific request for buses is made. Lets call this (2a).
If it is not a standing arrangement, then all negotiation of the arrangements is done at the time of a specific request for buses. Call that (2b). If not all the negotiation of arrangements was done at that time, because some part of the negotiation was done earlier, in order to cover different potential requests, then that part of the negotiation is negotiation of a standing arrangement. Call this (2c)

So 2) covers all of these - (2a), (2b) and (2c). In order to fulfil this request, somebody needs to search for each of these, not just one or none of them.
Ms. Hextall admits that Tfl 'have in some circumstances been approached and used our contacts with various bus operators to help facilitate [loan of buses] at the expense of the police'. This facilitation constitutes part of 'any arrangements to provide buses', and so any written record of it forms part of my original request.
Furthermore, 'using TfL's contacts' necessarily involves (1b)- 'identifying people who act as contact points for, any arrangements to provide buses', so any written record of this should have been searched for in responding to the request.

Finally, I asked TfL to provide:
3) 'any correspondence, or any record of communications, whereby the immediate (or near term) use of such arrangement was requested, proposed or discussed'.
Ms. Hextall writes that 'we have in some circumstances been approached and used our contacts with various bus operators to help facilitate [the loan of buses]'.
When Tfl is 'approached' for that purpose, then that constitutes a request or proposal and, unless 'using our contacts' involves simply passing on a phone number, then that involves discussing.

The examples I have shown above are only those for which it is obvious that they exist and yet you have not searched for. There will likely be other records which should have been disclosed and yet are not referred to in Ms. Hextall's response. Obviously (and I must also include even the obvious), my request refers to everything mentioned in the request, not just these examples.

Unfortunately, this means you will have to take ten minutes to make a full and legalistic reading of my request. However, in the long run it will save time as I will then not have to reply again in mind-numbing detail, explaining the definitions of words and how to read clauses within sentences. And neither TfL nor the Information Commissioner's Office will be troubled by having to read such a reply.

I have some care in order to make my request complete. I hope you can apply similar diligence to fulfilling it and I thank you in anticipation of your doing so.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

Yours faithfully,

Brian Tanning

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Tanning

 

Request for internal review

 

Thank you for your request for an internal review which was received by
Transport for London (TfL) on 6 January 2014.

 

You have stated that you are dissatisfied with the handling of your
request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

The review will be conducted by an internal review panel in accordance
with our Internal Review Procedure, which is available via the following
URL:

 

[1]http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/f...

 

Every effort will be made to provide you with a response by 3 February
2014. However, if the review will not be completed by this date, we will
contact you and notify you of the revised response date as soon as
possible.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

E-mail: [2][TfL request email]

 

 

 

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Dear Ms. Hextall,

It's quite some time after 3 Feb now.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Tanning

Dear Ms. Hextall,

I requested, on 6th January, an internal review of your department's disingenuous non-answer of my original FOI request (viewable at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u... ).

You replied:
'Every effort will be made to provide you with a response by 3 February 2014. However, if the review will not be completed by this date, we will contact you and notify you of the revised response date as soon as possible.'

Not only have I not been informed that any review has been completed, but I have not been informed of any revised response date or, for that matter, of anything else.

You will have noticed that I have subsequently lodged an FOI request about your handling of these FOI requests, but it would still be a matter of courtesy to respond with an update of the progress of the original request.
The only explanation I can think of is that somebody is looking for, and failing to find, an exemption which would apply in the case of this request. I would respectfully suggest that, if you have not yet found a get-out clause, then accept now that you will not find one and let me know how you intend to deal with the request and associated internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Tanning

Guild Simon, Transport for London

Dear Mr Tanning,

I apologise for the delay in completing our review of the handling of your FOI request. I intend to provide the outcome of the review along with a response to your follow up FOI request (FOI-2341-1314) by Friday 04 April.

Yours Sincerely

Simon Guild
Information Access Manager
Transport for London

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Guild Simon, Transport for London

Dear Mr Tanning,

Please accept my sincere apologies that we have not yet provided a response to your outstanding FOI request and the associated Internal Review of your previous request. I am sorry for the ongoing delay and I will provide a full response as soon as possible.

Yours Sincerely

Simon Guild
Information Access Manager
Transport for London

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(FOI-2341-1314)

Dear Mr. Guild,

What is holding up the review?
Please provide a response within seven days since I intend to refer this to the ICO if you don't.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Tanning

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Tanning

Thank you for your email, I apologise again for the time this internal review has taken. The review has been completed and our response is in the process of being finalised. I note your deadline and I hope to be able to provide our response before that date.

Yours sincerely

Simon Guild

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FOI, Transport for London

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Tanning

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2341-1314 / IRV-090-1314

 

Thank you for your email received by us on 24 February asking for
information about two previous FOI requests; FOI-1143-1314 made by Mr
Cullen and your request FOI-1358-1314. I apologise for the delay in
providing this response.

 

Your new request has been considered in accordance with the requirements
of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.  I
can confirm we hold some information that might be the information you
require. You asked for communications concerned with not answering your
request and that of Mr Cullen promptly, withholding information or
corresponding with outside organisations.

 

This request follows your application for an internal review of the
handling of request FOI-1358-1314. Since the requested communications form
part of the evidence considered under the internal review, this letter
answers FOI-2341-1314 and also communicates the outcome of internal review
IRV-090-1314.

 

The attached emails (Tanning 2341-1314 redacted C / Tanning 2341-1314
redacted T) are a complete record of the correspondence generated as a
result of processing FOI-1143-1314 and FOI-1358-1314. We do not consider
that they show any intention to delay our response, although it has
subsequently become apparent that TfL does hold further information that
was not initially considered for disclosure. This information is also
attached. There was no correspondence about either FOI-1143-1314 or
FOI-1358-1314 with external agencies.

 

Please note that in accordance with TfL’s obligations under the Data
Protection Act 1998 (DPA) some personal data has been removed, as required
by section 40(2) of the FOI Act. This is because disclosure of this
personal data would be a breach of the DPA, specifically the first
principle of the DPA which requires all processing of personal data to be
fair and lawful. It would not be fair to disclose this personal
information when the individuals have no expectation it would be disclosed
and TfL has not satisfied one of the conditions of Schedule 2 of the Data
Protection Act which would make the processing ‘fair’.

 

Some emails have been removed as we are not obliged to supply this
information. Those emails are subject to a statutory exemption to the
right of access to information, under section 42(1) of the FOI Act.  In
this instance section 42(1) has been applied as the information you have
requested is covered by legal professional privilege (LPP). 

 

LPP is a common law concept that protects the confidentiality of most
communications between a legally qualified adviser and client. The
information you have requested is covered by LPP and the adverse affect of
disclosure would arise from the inhibiting effect it would have on TfL
seeking and obtaining frank legal advice. The risk of disclosure of legal
advice would detract from the responsibility TfL has to analyse and
address legal risks and issues.

 

The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public
interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned.  TfL
recognises the need for openness and transparency by public authorities,
and that there may be a particular public interest in enabling you, and
the wider public, to understand the basis for TfL’s thinking on this
issue. However, there is a very strong element of public interest inbuilt
into the concept of LPP and this has long been recognised, by the
Information Commissioner, the Information Tribunal and the courts, and it
reflects the importance of legal advice being sought, and given, in
confidence as a fundamental condition on which the administration of
justice rests. In view of that, TfL considers that the public interest
favours the use of this exemption in relation to the information you have
requested.

 

The range of fees that the police have been advised they are likely to
have to pay bus operators has been removed from the attached process
document under section 43(2) of the FOI Act on the grounds that disclosure
would prejudice the commercial interests of the Metropolitan Police. If
this information were made available to the bus operators it would give
them an unfair advantage in negotiation for the cost of supplying buses.
Whilst we recognise that there is significant public interest in the
disclosure of documents that have been incorrectly withheld, we consider
that the public interest is best served by enabling effective negotiation
around the spending of public funds, and that the redaction of these
estimates does not detract significantly from the usefulness of the
document.

 

Internal review IRV-090-1314

 

The review was carried out by an independent Review Panel (‘the Panel’)
consisting of individuals who were not directly involved in the handling
of your request.

 

In FOI-1358-1314 you asked three questions

 

1.      Please provide any internal documentation outlining the policy
regarding, or identifying people who act as contact points for, any
arrangements to provide buses at short notice for the use of the
Metropolitan Police.

 

The response stated that “There is no internal written procedure for
procuring buses for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to carry
prisoners.” This was based on a statement made by Operational Police
Liaison Manager  Foster Asamani in an email on 03 December 2013:

 

There is no internal written procedure for procuring buses for the MPS to
carry prisoners. This is not one of TfL’s responsibilities.; It is part of
the MPS planning process for policing demonstrations to make contingency
arrangements for carrying prisoners. However, as partners working together
with the MPS, TfL has in some circumstances been approached and used its
contacts with various bus operators to help facilitate this at the expense
of the police. The Police are responsible for this arrangement and all
buses hired are fully funded by the MPS.

 

However, further investigation by the panel determined that there is a
written process for police to follow when requesting buses. Whilst this is
a process rather than a policy, the FOI Act requires that advice and
assistance be provided and at the very least, the response should have
made reference to this process being held. The written process is
disclosed to you with our apologies. Your appeal is upheld on this point
and the panel finds that our response to your request was not compliant
with our obligations under the FOI Act.

 

2.      Please provide any correspondence with the Metropolitan Police
whereby such arrangements (including any standing arrangement) have been
negotiated.

 

In your request for an internal review you made the point that:

 

“The fact that you didn't hold any information which comes under 1a), or
1), doesn't mean that 2) falls away.”

 

The panel is in agreement with you on this point. However, the absence of
a written policy would mean that there was no reference point from which
to search for recorded evidence of negotiation and no reason to expect any
such evidence would be found. The subsequent discovery of the bus request
process identified a name and a time frame which allowed a search of our
email archive. This identified several sets of emails where the process
was discussed with the Metropolitan Police. Having reviewed the emails we
consider that they fall under the scope of your request and they are
disclosed to you with our apologies.

 

3.      Please provide any correspondence, or any record of
communications, whereby the immediate (or near term) use of such
arrangement was requested, proposed or discussed.

 

The panel finds that even in the (presumed) absence of a written policy,
the response was inadequate as the request was for correspondence
surrounding the use of the “arrangement”, which is a significantly wider
term than “policy” which was used earlier in your request. Therefore the
(presumed) absence of a policy would not mean an absence of correspondence
relating to a specific event.

 

In emails relating to the preparation of the response to Mr Cullen’s
request (FOI-1143-1314), CentreComm and Network Liaison Manager Alan Dell
stated:

 

on or around the morning of 27/8 I was asked by a Chief Inspector in the
Safer Transport Command to scope out availability of buses for 7/9/13 I
went back to the Police that day and told them that I could arrange 5
vehicles for their use on the day. I confirmed the booking on behalf of
the MPS with Sullivans on 29/8 On 5/9 after speaking to MPS I confirmed
that buses would meet MPS at Dalston Junction Station at 0900 on 7/9

 

And;

 

When MPS ask for buses I ring around numerous Operators and the work goes
to the person that has vehicles available, I don’t have time to look for
the cheapest price the first person that can provide vehicles gets the job

 

Although these statements provided by Alan Dell support the view that this
was an ad-hoc process carried out largely verbally, they do not rule out
any partial record of this process being held in email. The panel finds
that the response was incorrectly based on the previous reply to Mr
Cullen, who had asked a similar but none the less different question. A
subsequent search of the email system identified ten emails relating to
recent deployments (The EDL March and counter demonstration in September
2013 and an earlier NUS March in November 2012). These emails should have
been located and disclosed and the panel upholds your appeal. The ten
emails are disclosed with this response. We are also disclosing two
further emails sent in the days after the EDL March which discuss the use
of the arrangements.

 

In summary the panel has found that the original response to your response
was inadequate. The failure to identify the attached process document and
associated emails in response to your original request means that you were
wrongly informed that no information was held. Therefore the panel has
found TfL was in breach of its obligations under the FOI Act. We have
found that an incorrect statement was made about not holding a written
procedure and that this in turn led to a failure to identify emails which
should have been located in response to your second question. Our response
to your third question was inadequate and assumptions were made based on a
previous reply to a different question.

 

We have reviewed the emails generated by responding to your request and to
Mr Cullen’s earlier request. We have found no evidence that the request
was deliberately delayed or that information was deliberately concealed,
nor have we identified any motive for concealing what is rather mundane
information. We have recently introduced further FOI training and we will
ensure that the training needs that have been identified by the panel are
met.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of this internal review, you can
refer the matter to the independent authority responsible for enforcing
the Freedom of Information Act at the following address.

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

A complaint form is available on the ICO’s website ([1]www.ico.gov.uk).

 

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal regarding our answer to FOI-2341-1314 as well as information on
copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the
information we have disclosed.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Simon Guild

Information Access Manager

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

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References

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