Disclosure Details

Road Policing - 774/12

Dated: 06 Nov 2012

Date of request:   05/10/2012

Date of response:   24/10/2012

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

Thank you for your email dated 5 October 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: 

  1. Pro rata, how many traffic police officers were in your force in March 2012, ie, provide an average of officer numbers during March - so if there were 200 at the beginning of the month, and another ten joined halfway through, the figure for March would be 205.  The pro-rata definition would also cover officers who worked part time, so two officers that were job sharing would be counted as one full time equivalent officer.

  2. How many dedicated roads policing vehicles were in your fleet in March 2012?

  3. Please detail any changes to your roads policing unit that have been made so far this year, or which are planned or proposed. This should include details of any increase or reduction in funding, numbers of staff or vehicles, as well as any merging of operations with other forces.

  4. Pro rata, how many traffic police officers are predicted to be in your force in March 2013, and October 2013?

  5. How many roads policing vehicles are predicted to be in your fleet in March 2013 and October 2013.

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 HR, Fleet Management and Operations Departments of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, in part, by Northumbria Police.

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

  1. The average number of traffic police offers within Northumbria Police in March 2012 was 166.93 full time equivalents.

  2. 40 marked vehicles.

    Additionally, Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that they hold any other information relevant to this part of your request by virtue of the following exemption:

    Section 31(1)(a)(b) - Law Enforcement

    The Section 31(1)(a)(b) exemption is engaged because by releasing the requested information it would be likely to compromise law enforcement operations that enable Northumbria Police to carry out their policing obligations.

    This exemption is prejudice and qualified based, which means that evidence of harm and the public interest needs to be articulated.  I have set these out below.

    Evidence of Harm

    Disclosure of information, such as use of vehicles could undermine the operational planning and ultimately the security of any policing activities.  The release of the detail as requested would identify what resources are available, would prejudice law enforcement tactics and therefore be likely to undermine law enforcement.  Disclosure of such information into the public domain could provide intelligence to those with ill-intentions to avoid detection and apprehension.

    Public interest considerations favouring disclosure:

    Disclosure of this information would allow the public to be better informed about what resources can be put in place to aid the detection and prevention of crime.  This in turn would provide better awareness and may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.

    Public interest considerations favouring non-disclosure:

    To provide further information could lead to Northumbria Polices law enforcement tactics to be compromised.  It may provide those with ill-intent to avoid apprehension, so creating unnecessary risk to the public.  This would lead to a further strain on resources as a result.

    Balance Test

    After weighing up the competing interests I have determined that the disclosure of further information would not be in the public interest.  Having acknowledged that the public will be more informed if this information was released, the benefit of disclosure does not outweigh the stronger arguments for non-disclosure in this case.  The balance of the argument falls in favour of not disclosing the level or use of vehicle resources available to Northumbria Police.

    Conclusion

    In the current climate within the UK, no information which may aid those intent on wrong doing should be provided.  To what extent this information will actually aid such individuals is unknown, but discretion is a most effective tool.  The public entrust the Police to make appropriate decisions with regard to their protection, and the only way of reducing the risk is to be aware of the significance of such disclosures to those with ill intent.  At this time therefore, due to the aforementioned reasons surrounding Section 31, it is my overall decision that the public interest favours non-disclosure of further information to safeguard policing tactics and the detection and apprehension of offenders.  I base this decision not on what may interest the public, but which would be of greater benefit to the public if released.

    The ability to provide relevant resources has obvious benefits to law enforcement.  As society has become increasingly mobile, diverse and technologically capable, any information that may be critical to aid successful law enforcement will not be released into the public domain.

    a) Has the force yet paid any compensation to any of Mitchell’s victims?
    b) If so, how much ?
    c) If not, is the force denying liability in some or all of these claims.

  3. The Roads Policing Unit (RPU) has been reduced by 19 PC's who were redeployed to Area Command to support front line policing.  The RPU fleet has been reduced by 5 vehicles as part of the Operations Command review.  There has been no increase or decrease in the RPU budget.

  4. No information held.  The Force is not in a position to predict how many traffic police officers will be in the Force next March or October at this point in time.

  5. Currently there are 35 marked roads policing vehicles predicted for both dates specified.

You may be interested to know that Northumbria Police routinely publish information that has been disclosed by Northumbria Police in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 via the Disclosure Log.  The aim of the Disclosure Log is to promote openness and transparency by voluntarily placing information into the public arena.

Whilst it is not possible to publish all responses we will endeavour to publish those where we feel that the information disclosed is in the public interest.  The Disclosure Log will be updated once responses have been sent to the requester.  I have provided the relevant link below:-

http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/index.asp

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.

Downloads

FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-28029