Disclosure Details

Informants - 811/12

Dated: 31 Jul 2015

Date of request:   18/10/2012

Date of response:   07/11/2012

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

Thank you for your email dated 18 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: 

I would like the annual expenditure on police informants for the 2011/12 financial year. I would like this information to be presented as follows:

2011/12: £xxxxxx

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 Finance Department 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.

2011/12: £141,280.

Additionally, Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that we hold any other information relevant to the whole of your request by virtue of the following exemptions:-

Section 23 (5) Information Supplied by, or Concerning, Certain Security Bodies listed at Section 23 (3) 
Section 24 (2) National Security

Section 23 of the Act States:
Section 23 Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters (5).  The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with Section 1(1)(a) would involve the disclosure of any information (whether or not already recorded) which was directly or indirectly supplied to the public authority by, or relates to, any of the bodies specified in subsection (3).

Section 23(5) is a class based absolute exemption and we are not required to provide complete a public interest test.

Section 24 National Security:
(1) Information which does not fall within Section 23(1) is exempt information if exemption from Section 1(1)(b) is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

(2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, exemption from Section 1(1)(a) is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

Section 24(2) is a prejudice based qualified exemption and as such there is a requirement to provide evidence of the harm disclosure could cause and consideration of the public interest must also be given as to whether neither confirming nor denying the information exists is the appropriate response, which we provide below.

The police service works in partnership with other agencies in order to combat issues such as terrorism and organised crime.  As such, information may sometimes be provided by bodies listed at section 23(3).  In this case, we are unable to confirm or deny whether Northumbria Police hold any other information relevant to your request and Sections 23(5) and 24(2) are cited, to protect the involvement or non-involvement of bodies listed at Section 23(3).

The above quoted total payment to informants does not include any payments made to informants where funding may have been supplied by exempt bodies.

Harm for Neither Confirming Nor Denying that any other Information is Held:

Disclosure of informants data could impact on the recruitment and retention of CHIS in general, due to the perception of (rather than the actual) risk of identification.  In a recent Information Tribunal case relating to the payments made to CHIS in Croydon (EA/2010/0006), it was accepted that this argument applied as much to CHIS providing intelligence in relation to national security concerns as to CHIS engaged in countering more traditional criminal threats.  In this way, the disclosure of payment information would damage national security through discouraging current national security CHIS from cooperating with the police service in other geographical areas, or preventing the recruitment of national security CHIS in the future – regardless of whether the area in question actually currently runs CHIS reporting on serious crime, terrorist or other threats.

Public Interest Test

Factors Favouring Confirming or Denying that any other Information is Held:

Confirmation or denial that any other information exists relevant to the request would lead to a better informed public and the public are entitled to know how public funds are spent.  The information simply relates to national security and disclosure would not actually harm it.

Factors Against Confirming or Denying that any other Information is Held:

Other organisations outside the police service are also widely engaged in rewarding informants in a number of ways, and therefore by confirming or denying that any other information exists relevant to the request would harm the close relationship that exists with such organisations, where trust and confidence in this specific area has been built up in the exchange of information and financial assistance during the Criminal Justice process.

To confirm or deny whether Northumbria Police hold any additional information 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 could enable terrorist groups to take steps to avoid detection, 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 infra-structure of the UK and increase the risk of harm to the public.

Balance Test

The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve.  The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge whether any other information is or is not held 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 and investigations, providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from criminals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this highly sensitive area.  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.

It is therefore our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or not that information is held, is not made out.

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 underour 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