Under the Freedom of Information Act, please can I ask the following information on crimes committed during the Christmas holiday period in the past three years.
- Please can you tell me how many crimes were reported to your force in the two-week period from 20th December 2016 – 3rd January 2017? Could I have this information broken down by the type of crime (burglary, assault, sexual assault, etc), and by the eventual outcome (e.g. charged, unresolved)?
- Please could you provide the same information for the equivalent two-week periods in the two previous years (20th December 2015 – 3rd January 2016 and 20th December 2014 – 3rd January 2015)?
I approached our Crime Management System (CMS) Administrator for assistance with your request. The CMS system is used to record complaints or allegations of those matters, which the Home Office specify should be recorded as ‘crimes’.
He provided me with the enclosed spreadsheet in response to your request.
Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which:
a) states that fact
b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and
c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
South Yorkshire Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information relevant to your request as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 24(2) National Security;
Section 31(3) Law enforcement;
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 any further information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.
Any release under FOI is a disclosure to the world not just to the individual making the request. Modern day policing is intelligence led and this is particularly pertinent with regard to both law enforcement and national security. The public expect police forces to use all powers and tactics available to them to prevent and detect crime and disorder, and maintain public safety.
In this case the impact of confirming whether any other information is or isn’t held would reveal intelligence about policing activity relating to terrorist offences, providing those intent on committing criminal or terrorist acts with valuable information.
Public Interest Test
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24
Confirmation or denial whether any other information exists relevant to the request would lead to a better informed public. The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent especially with regards to law enforcement and safeguarding national security
Factors against confirmation or denial for S24
To confirm or deny whether the force hold any more information relevant to the request would allow inferences to be made about the nature and extent of national security related activities which may or may not take place in a given area. This would enable terrorists or organized criminal groups to take steps to counter intelligence, and as such, confirmation or denial would be damaging to national security.
By confirming or denying any policing arrangements of this nature would render national 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.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31
By confirming or denying whether any information is held in respect to this request would allow the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public as they would be more observant in reporting suspicious activity.
Factors against confirmation or denial for S31
By confirming or denying whether information is held in respect to this request law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime. This would result in more risk to the public and consequently require the use of more police resources.
The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying any further information exists. The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protection the communities we serve. As part of that policing purpose, information is gathered which can be highly sensitive relating to high profile investigative activity.
Weakening the mechanisms used to enforce the law and monitor criminal activity, and specifically terrorist activity would place the security of the country at an increased level of danger.
At this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that any further information is held.
However, this should not be taken as necessarily indicating that any information that would meet your request does or does not exist.