I am writing to you for the accesss to the following information:
Number sexual offences committed by taxi/ cab drivers in the last three financial years (2016-17, 2015-16, 2014-15)? Please can you also include the following months for 2017: April, May, June and July
This request relates broadly to taxis, private hire vehicles and anyone acting or pretending to act in the capacity of a hired driver including illegal cabs (but not things like buses or coaches), where the victim is a passenger and the person acting in the capacity of driver is the suspect.
Please can you provide any additional information related to these incidents (eg name of cab service/ nature of offence/ resolution)
I contacted the Crime Management System (CMS) Administrator for assistance with your request. She carried out a search of the system using the following criteria
“This is a count of offences recorded on CMS for the HO Group of SEXUAL OFFENCES where the SUSPECT/ACCUSED offenders have an occupation from within the occupation group - TAXIS, recorded on the CMS crime register 01-APR-2014 to 31-JUL 2017, broken down by financial year, occupation, outcome of offence and offence type.”
The system does not record whether an offender was working at the time, merely the individual has the occupation of ‘Taxi Driver’. Nevertheless, due to the number of records involved, I was able to manually review the free text of each electronic crime record and discount those where the offence obviously occurred outside of work. Whilst assessing each, I found nine records that made reference to the company the individual worked for, however I am unable to provide this to you.
Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires South Yorkshire Police, when refusing to provide such information (because the information is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which:
- states the fact,
- specifies the exemption in question and
- states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Section 40(2) Personal Information:
This is an absolute exemption and therefore a Public Interest Test is not relevant. However, for clarity, I will explain my rationale for engaging this exemption.
Section 40(2) provides that information is exempt if it is the personal data of someone other than the applicant and disclosure would breach any of the data protection principles. The term ‘personal data’ means data that relates to a living individual who can be identified. This may take an obvious form of ‘personal’ such as a name but can also include information from which a person can be identified. Although not explicitly naming individuals, the cumulative effect of full disclosure may lead to the identification of those involved in an incident; not only the person(s) subject of the complaint, but potentially those making a complaint or assisting with an incident, such as potential witnesses.
A disclosure in this instance, because it is so specific, would infringe the first Data Protection Principle, in that it would be ‘unfair’.
Section 30 (1)- Investigations and Proceedings Conducted by Public Authorities
This covers information held at any time for the purposes of an investigation whether the case in ongoing, closed or abandoned. As Section 30 is a class based exemption, I am required to carry out a Public Interest Test in respect of disclosure.
PUBLIC INTEREST TEST
Section 30 - Favouring Disclosure
- The public would have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the investigatory process and how public funds are used to investigate reported incidents.
Section 30 – Favouring non disclosure
- Disclosure of the information may inhibit the co-operation of victims/witnesses of such investigations. This would ultimately affect the Force’s law enforcement capabilities.
Publishing details relating to a specific incident reported to the police could be viewed by those involved as a breach in confidentiality. This could jeopardise the work done within communities to increase the public’s confidence in reporting and giving assistance to the Force.
Disclosing the information could lead to more crimes being committed, which would impact on police resources and place individuals at risk – including those reporting incidents, victims, witnesses etc., as well as any individual subject of a complaint., who may be ‘recognised’ or indeed, mis-identified by a disclosure.
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. The reduction and detection of crime is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so would compromise law enforcement and public confidence in the policing service. Therefore, in such a specific instance, I feel the balance falls in favour of non-disclosure.
However I am willing to provide the number of offences per year and outcomes.