Disclosure Details

Radicalisation - 394/14

Dated: 04 Jun 2014

Date of request:    08/04/2014

Date of response:  02/06/2014

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 May 2014  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) Please can you provide the number of times police have responded to a report of radicalisation in schools in each of the past five calendar years.

Where possible please specify: 
a) Whether the school was primary / secondary / college
b) The age and sex of any alleged offender
c) Any details relating to the incident
d) Any arrests / charges

2) Please can you provide the number of times police have responded to reports of extremism in schools in each of the past five calendar years.

Where possible please specify: 
a) Whether the school was primary / secondary / college
b) The age and sex of any alleged offender
c) Any details relating to the incident
d) Any arrests / charges

In response:

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

Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any information relevant to your request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemption:

Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain Security Bodies
Section 24(2) National Security
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Section 40(5) Personal Information
Section 23 and 40 are 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 Section 24 and 31
The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored.  It should be recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable.  The UK faces a sustained threat from violent terrorists and extremists.  Since 2006, the UK Government have published the threat level, based upon current intelligence and that threat has remained at the second highest level, ‘severe’, except for two short periods during August 2006 and June and July 2007, when it was raised to the highest threat, ‘critical’, and in July 2009, when it was reduced to ‘substantial’. The current threat level to the UK is ‘substantial’.

Disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act are disclosures to the world, not just to the individual making the request. Disclosure of the requested information relating to radicalisation and extremism in schools would indicate that police responded to intelligence and the levels of response to these threats by individual forces. It will also show those areas which are unaffected which could be classed as ‘vulnerable’.

Disclosure of the requested information would have the likelihood of identifying location-specific operations conducted by the police, enabling individuals to become aware of whether their activities have been detected. If a criminal group knew that Police responded to information from a school this would lead to them going ‘underground’, destroying evidence or moving their operations to different locations, or avoiding those areas where police activity at schools is concentrated. This would ultimately compromise police tactics, operations and future prosecutions.

Section 31
Factors favouring confirmation or denial – By confirming or denying that further information is held would allow the public to understand whether Police investigate and tackle radicalisation and extremism. This would provide reassurance to the public that the Police have in place protocols to deal with these types of incidents and offences. The Home Office regularly publish national statistical data on Prevent data. It would also reassure the public that the Police have protocols in place to protect children from radicalisation.

Factors against confirmation or denial – By confirming or denying that further information is held would mean that law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime.  More crime would be committed because criminals would know which forces are focusing on radicalisation and extremism which would in turn identify potential schools and potential cells. The groups may be deemed to be under the radar may increase their activities and those on the radar may adapt or go underground. A fear of crime would be realised because if the terrorists identified more vulnerable areas, they would target and exploit these areas and the public would be in fear of more criminal/terrorist activity occurring.  There would be an impact on police resources because if the measure used by forces to detect terrorist activities and safeguard children is disclosed and some areas are deemed to be ‘softer’ at managing this threat terrorist cells may move to these areas in order to continue their operations and avoid detection. There will be local implications with wrongful identification of children and families which in turn could lead to further offences being committed in the community.

Section 24
Factors favouring confirmation or denial - The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by disclosing this information the public would be able to see where public money is being spent and know that forces are doing as much as they can to combat terrorism and radicalisation and extremism.
Factors against Confirmation or Denial - Any information shared between agencies (intelligence) has the potential to cover all aspects of criminal activity, be it threats to National Security, future planned robberies or intelligence relating to terrorist activity. Confirming or denying that any other information is held would enable those intent on engaging in terrorist activities to determine on a National level which areas within the UK may be a vulnerable area to target.

Balance test
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine National Security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations, information gathering and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively safeguarding those who are vulnerable to radicalisation and targeting the cells behind the radicalisation, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in the highly sensitive area of terrorism. 

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.

Northumbria Police will not divulge whether they do or do not hold information if it is likely that it will compromise the work of the Police Service or place members of the public at risk. It is known that terrorists cells will try to radicalise people so that they believe in their ideology in order to encourage them to commit acts of terror. Confirmation or denial that such information is held by the police service would highlight which areas may have children who are more susceptible to radicalisation and how each force tackles radicalisation within their communities. This will adversely affect the forces ability to detect this type of crime as it may alter the behaviours of those trying to radicalise children. This in itself could put that child’s life at risk along with that of National Security. It is therefore our belief that the balance test lies in neither confirming nor denying that the requested information is held.

Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another.  Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data.  For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.

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_tcm4-67103