Disclosure Details

Blood Borne Viruses - 156/12

Dated: 07 Jun 2011

Date of request: 06/02/2012

Date of response: 05/03/2012

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)

Thank you for your email dated 6 February 2012 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked: 

Please can you send us all occupational health policies, health and safety documents, training and information materials relating to Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs), HIV and AIDS.

In response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Occupational Health Unit of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.

I have decided to disclose the located information to you as follows.

Please note that we are under no obligation under FOI to provide copies of any documents.  We are only required to provide the information those documents contain.  In this instance we have extracted the relevant parts of larger documents to provide information to respond to your request.

We shall not be disclosing any further information in relation to this request and in doing so we rely on the following exemption:

Section 41(1)(a)&(b) Information provided in confidence

Although Section 41 is not a qualified exemption, there is a requirement to conduct a public interest test on whether the common-law duty of confidentiality can be overcome.  It should be noted that the default position favours non-disclosure when this exemption is applied.

Public Interest Test

Considerations Favouring Disclosure:

Information to be considered for disclosure relates directly to the efficiency and effectiveness of the force or its officers.  The purpose of the Act is to make public authorities more accountable and this factor, therefore, may be applied to a wide range of scenarios from how an individual or the force fulfils their role or function, to policy decisions that have been taken in relation to general policy issues. 
Use of Public Funds
Where public funds are being spent, there is a public interest in accountability and justification.

Favouring Non-Disclosure:

Flow of Information to the Service/ Force
Release of information would act as a deterrent to external organisations to provide information to the force in future.  There is a need to protect the flow of information, to allow all to have confidence that information will be treated appropriately.  If the relationship between the force and other organisations were impeded, the gathering of information to enable the force to perform its public service functions would become increasingly difficult.

The information has the necessary quality of confidence about it
This information is not currently in the public domain and is treated and classed as confidential by the originator.

The information was imparted to the Force in circumstances that imply an obligation of confidence in the form of an explicit written agreement that such information would not be further disclosed.  Upon further consultation, the originator has confirmed that they would not want such information disclosed into the public domain at this time and would classify such disclosure as a breach of confidence.

Whilst the information may not necessarily be classed as highly sensitive, the subject matter is far from trivial.  This lends weight to non-disclosure.

Balancing Test

While accountability is a strong factor, the circumstances under which the information was imparted is a deciding factor in this case.  The originator initially explicitly expressed that such information should not be further disclosed.  This has been agreed in the form of a written agreement.  The originator has subsequently confirmed to this department that the information was given in confidence and that should disclosure be given, it would be considered as a breach of this confidence and further steps would be considered.  Due to this obligation of confidence, the argument favouring disclosure is not made out.

You should therefore consider this a refusal under section 17 of the Act for this part of your request.

The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police.  Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation.  In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.

How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.


FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-28029