Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

In November 2011, it was reported in the press that the MPS would use UAVs to patrol the Olympic games (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cri...)

1) Were UAVs ever deployed by MPS during the Olympic games?
2) If so, under what circumstances and under whose control?
3) What models of UAV does the MPS currently possess?
4) Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to deploy UAVs?
5) Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the past?

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Bridle

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2013030002043
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 19/03/2013.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

1) Were UAVs ever deployed by MPS during the Olympic games?    
2) If so, under what circumstances and under whose control?    
3) What models of UAV does the MPS currently possess?    
4) Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to
deploy UAVs?    
5) Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the past?

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 Bridle

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2013030002043
I respond in connection with your request for information which was
received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 19/03/2013.  I note
you seek access to the following information:

1) Were UAVs ever deployed by MPS during the Olympic games?    
2) If so, under what circumstances and under whose control?    
3) What models of UAV does the MPS currently possess?    
4) Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to
deploy UAVs?    
5) Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the past?

DECISION

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (the Act),  this
response represents a Refusal Notice for this request under Section 17(1)
of the Act.

The MPS can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you
requested as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Act does not apply, by
virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain security
bodies.
Section 24(2) National Security.
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

REASONS FOR DECISION

Should it be held, constituents of this information would attract Section
23, other constituents 24 and other constituents attract Section 31 of the
Act.

It should not be surmised that should the information be held by the MPS
we would be applying Sections 23, 24 & 31 to the same pieces of
information.

Please see the legal annex for the sections of the Act that are referred
to in this response.

Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and therefore there is no
requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test

Sections 24, and 31 are prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is
a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or
not that the information is held as well as carrying out a public interest
test.  

Overall harm for neither confirming nor denying that any other information
is held

Any disclosure under FOIA is a disclosure to the world at large, and by
confirming or denying the use of this specialist equipment at certain
events, would show the criminals what the capacity, tactical abilities and
capabilities of the MPS are, allowing them to target specific areas of the
UK to conduct their terrorist activities.

To confirm or deny that this type of police tactic has or has not been
used at high profile events such as the Olympics would enable those
engaged in criminal or terrorist activity to identify the focus of
policing activity across the UK. This would have the likelihood of
identifying location-specific operations which would ultimately compromise
police tactics, operations and future prosecutions as criminals could
counteract the measures used against them.

The MPS neither confirms nor denies that such tactics have been used
because to state that no information is held for one event regarding UAS,
and then exempt information held in another, would itself provide
acknowledgement that UAV's have been used at that second event.
 
Any information identifying the focus of policing activity could be used
to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations.  Information
that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will
adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both National
Security and law enforcement.

Public safety would be put at risk if terrorists' targeted events where
UAV's were known to be used or conversely, where they have not been used,
making the area more vulnerable.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31

By confirming or denying when or where UAV's are used, would enable the
public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness
may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31
 
By confirming or denying the use of UAV's, law enforcement tactics would
be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime.

More crime would be committed and individuals would be placed at risk.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by
confirming whether UAV'sS were or are used would lead to a better-informed
public

Factors against confirmation or denial for S24
 
By confirming or denying when, where and why UAV's are used within the MPS
area would render Security measures less effective. This would lead to the
compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or
infrastructure of the UK and increase the risk of harm to the public.

Balance test
 
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the MPS will
not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would place
the safety of the public at risk or undermine National Security. Whilst
there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and
in this case providing assurance that the MPS is appropriately and
effectively engaging with the threat posed by the criminal fraternity,
there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national
security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this
area.  

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.

Therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for
confirming or denying whether the MPS uses UAV's is not made out.

No inference can be drawn from this response as to the existence or not of
any other information.
 

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

LEGAL ANNEX

Section 17(1) of the Act provides:

A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is
to any extent relying on a claim that any provision of Part II relating to
the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim that
information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with
section 1(1), give the applicant 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.

Section 23(5) of the Act provides:

The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that,
compliance with section 1(1)(a) would involve the disclosure of any
information (whether or not already recorded) which was directly or
indirectly supplied to the public authority by, or relates to, any of the
bodies specified in subsection (3).

Section 24(2) of the Act provides:

The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that,
exemption from section 1(1)(a) is required for the purpose of safeguarding
national security.

Section 31(3) of the Act provides:

The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that,
compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice
any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1).
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 the swift response to my FOI request. However, as I understand your response it only answers to Questions 1 and 2 of the original request.

Questions 3, 4 and 5 are about MPS equipment and CAA permissions.

The exemptions you cite have not been applied in the past to questions about MPS equipment (e.g. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...) or to CAA permissions (cf http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan...).

Following this precedent, please can you address questions 3, 4 and 5 or the original request.

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Bridle

Thank you for your email below.

The MPS has answered your request. I have read question 3, 4 and 5 and they relate to UAVs and as such our response covers these questions too.

The MPS can neither confirm nor deny anything relating to UAVs by virtue of the sections quoted in our original response.

Should you wish for an internal review on our response then I will be happy to forward your response to the relevant department.

Yours sincerely

A Beaumont

show quoted sections

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)'s handling of my FOI request 'Use of UAVs by the MPS'.

While I fully understand the cited exemption with reference to the operational use of UAVs by the Metropolitan Police Service, I am not satisfied that these exemptions apply to the MPS' possession or requests for permission to deploy UAVs.

As noted in your response, "[t]he public are entitled to know how public funds are spent", while the objection, that "when, where and why UAV's are used within the MPS area would render Security measures less effective" applies only to their operational deployment, and not to the fact of their possession, nor to the CAA license for their use.

As stated in previous correspondence, there is a wealth of documented precedent for this request, as the CAA has previously released details of UAV licensing under FOI (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan...) and the MPS has itself released details of both its ground and air fleet (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m..., https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...).

As a consequence, I would like a review of this decision to address why UAVs represent a special class of MPS equipment which is exempt from FOI inspection, when other vehicles and equipment have previously been judged not to fall under this exemption.

If they are judged to represent a special class, I would ask the review to specify the conditions under which this judgement is met, and if they are not, I would ask that the previously cited questions be answered:

3) What models of UAV does the MPS currently possess?
4) Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to
deploy UAVs?
5) Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the past?

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

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Bridle

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2013030003088

I write in connection with your request for a review of the original MPS
decision relating to 2013030002043 which was received by the Metropolitan
Police Service (MPS) on 26/03/2013.  

Your request for a review will now be considered in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).  You will receive a response to
your request for a review of the original MPS case within a timescale of
20 working days.  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.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

Yours sincerely

R. Loizou
Administration Team Officer
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 to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

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 Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

This review response is now overdue.

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr. Bridle

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2013030003088

Further to your complaint concerning your request for information
(reference 2013030002043) under the Freedom of Information Act I have
unfortunately been unable to

meet the response time in regards to your case.

I hope to complete your review no later than 24th May 2013. Should there
be any unforeseen delay, I will contact you and update you as soon as
possible.

I apologise for the delay.

Yours sincerely

Mike Lyng

FOIA Quality and Assurance Advisor

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 to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

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 Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Thank you for the response. I look forward to hearing more by May 24th.

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Case reference: 2013030003088

Dear Mr. Bridle,

Thank you for your e-mail.

Please see the below Complaints Update which was sent to you on
30.04.2013.

Regards,

R. Loizou

 From: Mike Lyng/mps
 Date: 30/04/2013 12:33:28
 To: [FOI #153690 email]
 bcc: [email address]
 Subject: FOIA Complaints Update

show quoted sections

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

I note that the second, extended deadline has now passed for the completion of an internal review, without a response. Please can you advise immediately when the outcome of this review will be forthcoming?

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Thank you for your e-mail. I am out of the office until Wednesday 29th May
2013.

You may contact the Administrative Support Team at:

foi@met.police.uk  OR  [email address]

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. Bridle

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2013030002043

I write in connection with your correspondence dated 26 March 2013
requesting that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) review its response
to your request for information (ref: 2013030002043).  Please find below a
response to your complaint.

Original Request

1) Were UAVs ever deployed by the MPS during the Olympic games?

2) If so, under what circumstances and under whose control?

3) What models of UAV does the MPS currently possess?

4) Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to
deploy UAVs?

5) Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the past?

Request for Review

While I fully understand the cited exemption with reference to the  
 operational use of UAVs by the Metropolitan Police Service, I am not
satisfied that these exemptions apply to the MPS' possession or    
 requests for permission to deploy UAVs.
     
As noted in your response, "[t]he public are entitled to know how  
 public funds are spent", while the objection, that "when, where and    
 why UAV's are used within the MPS area would render Security    
 measures less effective" applies only to their operational deployment,
and not to the fact of their possession, nor to the CAA license for their
use.
     
As stated in previous correspondence, there is a wealth of documented
precedent for this request, as the CAA has previously released details of
UAV licensing under FOI  
 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan...)
and the MPS has itself released details of both its ground and air fleet  
 (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...,
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...).
     
As a consequence, I would like a review of this decision to address why
UAVs represent a special class of MPS equipment which is exempt from FOI
inspection, when other vehicles and equipment have previously been judged
not to fall under this exemption.
     
If they are judged to represent a special class, I would ask the review to
specify the conditions under which this judgement is met, and if they are
not, I would ask that the previously cited questions be answered:
     
3) What models of UAV does the MPS currently possess?
4) Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to
     deploy UAVs?
5) Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the past?

DECISION

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has completed its review and has
decided to uphold the original decision to engage Section 23(5)
(Information supplied by, or concerning, certain Security bodies); Section
24(2) (National security) and Section 31(3) (Law enforcement) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA).

Further reference to the FoIA can be found by way of this link  
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

Reason for decision

The review takes note of your comment ‘While I fully understand the cited
exemption with reference to the operational use of UAVs by the
Metropolitan Police Service, I am not satisfied that these exemptions
apply to the MPS' possession or requests for permission to deploy UAVs.’
With this in mind, I thought that it might assist you if I outline the
parameters set out by the Freedom of Information Act within which a
request for information can be answered. The FoIA creates a statutory
right of access to information held by public authorities. A public
authority in receipt of a request must, if permitted, confirm if that
public authority holds the requested information and, if so, then
communicate that information to the applicant.

The right of access to information is not without exception and is subject
to a number of exemptions, which are designed to enable public authorities
to withhold information that is not suitable for release. Importantly, the
Act is designed to place information into the public domain, that is, once
access to information is granted to one person under the Act, it is then
considered public information and must be communicated to any individual
should a request be received.  Any information released is also placed on
the MPS FoIA Disclosure Log which can be found via this link:
http://www.met.police.uk/foi/disclosure/...

The review has considered your request for information - this includes
both the first part of your request concerning ‘Were UAVs ever deployed by
the MPS during the Olympic games; If so, under what circumstances and
under whose control’ and the second part concerning ‘What models of UAV
does the MPS currently possess; Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation
Authority clearance to deploy UAVs and Has the MPS applied for CAA
clearance for UAV flights in the past’ - within the provisions set out by
the FoIA and has today decided to uphold the original decision to neither
confirm nor deny whether the requested information is or is not held. The
review finds the rationale provided to you to be robust in this case. I
will therefore not re-iterate the reasons already provided to you but hope
to explain why in this case the MPS has neither confirmed nor denied
information is held by virtue of the exemptions cited.

The duty to confirm or deny

The review is guided by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who
has provided advice on the duty to confirm or deny which can be found by
way of this link (under the heading ‘Confirm or deny’):
http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/...

Section 1(1) (a) of FoIA requires a public authority to inform a requestor
whether it holds the information specified in the request.  This is known
as the ‘the duty to confirm or deny’.  The ICO states, however, that
 ‘there may be occasions when complying with the duty to confirm or deny
under section 1(1)(a) would itself disclose sensitive or potentially
damaging information that falls under an exemption...in these
circumstances the Act allows a public authority to respond by refusing to
confirm or deny whether it holds the requested information.  This is
called a ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) response.’  

The ICO further clarifies that ‘for many requests that public authorities
receive, their decision to use a neither confirm nor deny response won’t
be affected by whether they do or don’t in fact hold the information. The
starting point and main focus in most cases will be theoretical
considerations about the consequences of confirming or denying that a
particular type of information is held.’

The ICO reminds public authorities that they can only refuse to confirm or
deny whether it holds the information, ‘if this would itself reveal
information that falls under an exemption’.  In this respect it can be
seen in the initial response that the MPS neither confirmed nor denied
information was held by virtue of the following exemptions: 23(5)
(Information supplied by, or concerning, certain Security bodies), 24(2)
(National security) and 31(3) (Law enforcement).
 
The review gives attention to your comment ‘As a consequence, I would like
a review of this decision to address why UAVs represent a special class of
MPS equipment which is exempt from FOI inspection, when other vehicles and
equipment have previously been judged not to fall under this exemption. If
they are judged to represent a special class, I would ask the review to
specify the conditions under which this judgement is met, and if they are
not, I would ask that the previously cited questions be answered’ and is
further guided by the ICO, who states ‘the exact wording of the request
for information is an important consideration when deciding whether a
public authority should confirm or deny if it holds the requested
information.  The more specific the request, the more likely it is that a
public authority will need to give a neither confirm nor deny response’.
 In this respect all your questions surround the subject of UAVs namely,
‘Were UAVs ever deployed by the MPS during the Olympic games; If so, under
what circumstances and under whose control; What models of UAV does the
MPS currently possess; Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation
Authority clearance to deploy UAVs; Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance
for UAV flights in the past.’  The review has regard for the initial MPS
response which states ‘by confirming or denying the use of this specialist
equipment at certain events, would show the criminals what the capacity,
tactical abilities and capabilities of the MPS are…’  The review is
therefore satisfied that these same considerations are relevant to your
entire request, including ‘What models of UAV does the MPS currently
possess; Does the MPS currently have Civil Aviation Authority clearance to
deploy UAVs; Has the MPS applied for CAA clearance for UAV flights in the
past.’

Furthermore, the ICO states that ‘when considering what a confirmation or
denial would reveal, a public authority isn’t limited to considering what
the public may learn from such a response; if it can demonstrate that a
confirmation or denial would be revealing to someone with more specialist
knowledge, this is enough to engage the exclusion to confirm or deny.’. In
this regard the review takes account of the original MPS response which
states ‘to confirm or deny that this type of police tactic has or has not
been used at high profile events such as the Olympics would enable those
engaged in criminal or terrorist activity to identify the focus of
policing activity across the UK…’

The review has regard for your comment ‘As noted in your response, "[t]he
public are entitled to know how public funds are spent", while the
objection, that "when, where and why UAV's are used within the MPS area
would render Security measures less effective" applies only to their
operational deployment, and not to the fact of their possession, nor to
the CAA license for their use.’ However, the MPS is again mindful of the
ICO guidance which reminds public authorities ‘a public authority should
be clear in its refusal notice that where the public interest test
applies, it has balanced the arguments in favour of maintaining the
exemption (i.e. in favour of giving a neither confirm nor deny response)
with factors in favour of informing the applicant whether it holds the
information.’  The review has found the balance of factors for each of the
exemptions engaged to be robust in this case and will not therefore
reiterate the harm and public interest test already provided to you,
except to highlight the original balance test which mentions ‘whilst there
is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in
this case providing assurance that the MPS is appropriately and
effectively engaged with the threat posed by the criminal fraternity,
there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national
security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this
area.’  

Section 23 - Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with
security matters

Section 23(5) of FoIA states that: The duty to confirm or deny does not
arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section1 (1) (a) would
involve the disclosure of any information (whether or not already
recorded) which was directly or indirectly supplied to the public
authority by, or relates to, any of the bodies specified in subsection
(3).  The full list of bodies specified in section 23(3) can be viewed by
way of this link http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

The ICO has provided guidance on the use of section 23 and states ‘the
term “relates to” is interpreted widely. This, together with the fact the
exemption extends to information “not already recorded”, means that it has
the potential to be applied to a wide range of situations….although a
public authority can apply section 23(5) to a wide range of requests there
are limits to its use. The request has to be ‘in the territory of national
security’.  This means there has to be a realistic possibility that a
security body would be involved in the issue the request relates to.
 There also has to be a realistic possibility that if a security body was
involved the public authority the request is addressed to would hold
information relating to its involvement.’

In ICO Decision Notice FS50443643
http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...
 the Commissioner’s opinion was that ‘the exemption contained at section
23(5) should be interpreted so that it is only necessary for a public
authority to show that either confirmation or denial as to whether the
requested information is held would involve the disclosure of information
relating to a security body.  It is not necessary for a public authority
to demonstrate that both responses would disclose such information.
 Whether or not a security body is interested or involved in a particular
issue is in itself information relating to a security body.’

In the same Decision notice the ICO further mentions ‘it can be seen that
section 23(5) has a very wide application. If the information requested is
within what could be described as the ambit of security bodies’
operations, section 23(5) is likely to apply.  This is consistent with the
scheme of FOIA because the security bodies themselves are not subject to
its provisions. Factors indicating whether a request is of this nature
will include the functions of the public authority receiving the request,
the subject area to which the request relates and the actual wording of
the request.’

With these considerations in mind, the review is satisfied that section
23(5) is appropriately engaged.

Section 24 - National Security

Section 24(2) FoIA states ‘The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if,
or to the extent that, exemption from section 1(1)(a) is required for the
purpose of safeguarding national security.’

ICO guidance emphasises there is no definition of national security and
refers to the Information Tribunal (EA/2006/0045) who summarised:

·        “National security” means the security of the United Kingdom and
its people;
 
·        The interests of national security are not limited to actions by
an individual which are targeted at the UK, its system of government or
its people;

·        The protection of democracy and the legal and constitutional
systems of the state are part of national security as well as military
defence;

·        Action against a foreign state may be capable indirectly of
affecting the security of the UK;

·        Reciprocal co-operation between the UK and other states in
combating international terrorism is capable of promoting the United
Kingdom’s national security.

The ICO guidance also states ‘safeguarding national security also includes
protecting potential targets even if there is no evidence that an attack
is imminent…the Commissioner also recognises terrorist can be highly
motivated and may go to great lengths to gather intelligence.  This means
there may be grounds for withholding what seems harmless information on
the basis that it may assist terrorists when pieced together with other
information they may obtain.’

When considering the NCND provisions, a public authority is not restricted
to considering the consequences of the actual response that it would be
required to provide under s1(1)(a). For example, if it does hold the
information, the public authority should consider not only what would be
revealed by confirming that it holds the information, but also what would
be revealed if it were to deny the information was held. It is sufficient
to demonstrate that either a hypothetical confirmation or a hypothetical
denial would engage the exemption. It is not necessary to show that both
potential responses would engage the exemption.

The review also has regard for the ICO guidance which states ‘although
“mosaic” arguments arise when considering other exemptions the issue in
these cases is whether combining the requested information with other
information in the public domain will cause harm. In section 24 cases, the
issue extends to whether the requested information will be useful if
combined with other information that terrorists may already have or could
obtain.’

The review notes that section 24(2) is engaged only if the refusal to
confirm or deny is required for the purposes of safeguarding national
security.  As mentioned above, whilst national security is not defined
under the Freedom of Information Act, it does include the security of the
United Kingdom and its people.  Confirming or denying that information is
or is not held in regards to your request and questions surrounding UAVs
would inform the public, including those who would wish to cause harm, as
to the level of interest in this area.

The review is mindful of ICO Decision Notice FS50431593
http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...
where the Commissioner drew on the approach set out in a non-freedom of
information case which stated ‘To require the matters in question to be
capable of resulting ‘directly’ in a threat to national security limits
too tightly the discretion of the executive in deciding how the interests
of the state, including not merely military defence but democracy, the
legal and constitutional systems of the state need to be protected…If an
act is capable of creating indirectly a real possibility of harm to
national security it is in principle wrong to say that the state must wait
until action is taken which has a direct effect against the United
kingdom.’ The ICO interpreted this as ‘In effect, this means that there
has to be a risk of harm to national security for the exemption to engage
but there is no need for a public authority to prove that there is a
specific, direct or imminent threat.’

With these considerations in mind, the review is satisfied that section
24(2) is appropriately engaged.

Section 31 - Law enforcement

Section 31(3) FoIA states the duty to confirm or deny does not arise if,
or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be
likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1).
Further reference can be found by way of this link:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

Confirmation or denial is possible when doing so would not reveal
indications of relevant law enforcement tactics.  However in this case
confirming or denying such information is or is not held would result in
an adverse effect, by providing those individuals who would wish to cause
harm with invaluable intelligence, which would compromise the police
service function in the prevention and detection of crime.  This would
make it more difficult for the MPS to police effectively, should
individuals or groups tactically change their behaviour.

As mentioned in the initial MPS response, that whilst there is a public
interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing
assurance to the general public that the MPS is appropriately and
effectively engaged, this must be balanced against the public interest in
safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations in this
area. Otherwise this could lead to the harm of ongoing or future
operations to prevent and detect crime.

With these considerations in mind, the review is satisfied that section
31(3) is appropriately engaged.

In conclusion

The public interest is not necessarily the same as what interests the
public. The ICO advises ‘the requestor’s private interests are not in
themselves the same as the public interest and what may serve those
private interests does not necessarily serve a wider public interest.’

In regards to the MPS neither confirming nor denying information is or is
not held relevant to your whole request, the review finds the following
paragraph relevant as mentioned in the First-tier Tribunal
EA/2011/0049-0051
http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...
 ‘It is in the nature of NCND that it covers circumstances in which
information is not held, as well as circumstances in which information is
held. It can be used to protect sources, and to avoid inferences being
drawn from acknowledgement of the fact that certain information is not
held. Moreover if NCND could not be used in circumstances in which
information was not held, there would be little point in it, as it would
then amount to an acknowledgement that information was held.’

The review is therefore satisfied that full considerations have been
identified in the original MPS response and further expanded upon in this
review. I hope the explanation provided clarifies why the MPS maintains
its stance to neither confirm nor deny that information is or is not held
in regards to your whole request by virtue of sections 23(5), 24(2) and
31(3) of the FoIA.

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
contact Mike Lyng on 0207 161 3605 or write quoting the reference number
above.

Yours sincerely

Mike Lyng
FoIA Quality and Assurance Advisor

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 to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

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.

 

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NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
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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
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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Bridle,

With regard to your complaint to the Information Commissioner the
Metropolitan Police Service has reconsidered it's position and now replies
as per the attached response.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Shankster
Senior Information Manager
Public Access Office
Metropolitan Police Service

<<Bridle response ICO complaint.doc>>

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).

 

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Dear Mr Shankster,

Thank you for your response to this matter, which is greatly appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Bridle
 
Further to my previous letter dated 30 September 2013, the Metropolitan
Police Service (MPS) has had further discussions with the Information
Commissioners Office. Following those discussions the MPS has decided to
issue an further Section 17(1) Notice in regard to this matter.
Accordingly please find attached that submission. Sincere apologies for
the delay in getting this to you.
 
Regards
 
Nigel Shankster
Senior Information Manager
Metropolitan Police Service
 
 
 

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).

 

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Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Thank you for your letter dated 10th September. Please could you explain what you are referring to when you invoke NCND with regard to "covert policing"? I have never requested information about, or used the phrase, "covert policing" in our correspondence, and am unsure to what aspect of the request you are referring to.

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr. Bridle

Thank you for making contact and I am sorry that my response has caused concern over my mention of 'overt' and 'covert' policing methods. This stance was arrived at to inform you that in the arena of overt policing i.e. Olympics, public order and demonstrations, the MPS does not hold any information on Drones.

However, in order to protect the interests of MPS policing methodology in the 'covert' arena, the partial ncnd is required. Unfortunately, if I were to attempt to expand upon the issue of covert policing I would be likely to undermine the current position of ncnd, so unfortunately I am unable to do so.

If you are still unhappy in regard to the position adopted by the MPS, please contact the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Shankster
Senior Information Manager

show quoted sections

Dear Mr Shankster,

The reason I question the use of the terms "overt" and "covert" in your response is because I understand how these may apply to operational concerns, which have already been dispensed with in this request, but not how they apply to the specifics of equipment which the MPS possesses. By this logic, any and all equipment might be considered related to "covert" operations, which is clearly contrary to the intention of the law, and the decision of the ICO.

The ICO has already upheld my case that is not concerned with operational use of equipment, and therefore I do not see how there could be grounds for maintaining an NCND on the grounds of "covert" policing. This reads as if the original objection which was turned back by the ICO has simply been restated under a different wording.

As per my letter of 26 March, if the MPS is going to continue to use these exemptions for UAV equipment but not for other types of vehicle or equipment, please explain how and why UAVs represent a special class which places them under this special exemption.

Yours faithfully,

James Bridle

James Bridle left an annotation ()

A complaint regarding this request was issued to the Information Commissioner's Office, which delivered a decision notice on 16 January 2014.

The full decision notice can be found at http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

Decision (including any steps ordered)
1. The complainant requested information relating to Unmanned Aerial
Vehicles (UAVs). The public authority informed the complainant it did
not hold information relating to the request insofar as it is relevant to
overt policing methods. However, it refused to confirm or deny whether
it held information within the scope of the request relevant to covert
policing by virtue of the exemptions at sections 23(5), 24(2) and 31(3)
FOIA.
2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the public authority was entitled to
rely on the exemptions at sections 23(5) and 24(2) FOIA.
3. The Commissioner does not require the public authority to take any
steps.

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