Fleet - 1007/16
Dated: 17 Nov 2016
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
Thank you for your e mail dated 17 September 2016 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 at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
I am writing to request a list of all vehicles in use by Northumbria Police.
Please include at a minimum the number plate, vehicle make and model in addition to base station and team the vehicle is used by.
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 within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
The information we have considered suitable for disclosure is below attached.
To note, any information relating to covert vehicles, ARVs and the team the vehicle is used by is not included in this disclosure and we rely on the following exemption.
Section 31(1) (a,b)- Law Enforcement
Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or denying that the information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.
To provide the details down to the level requested would cause harm as, once identified, those vehicles could be targeted thus placing the occupants at risk. Additionally there is a strong possibility that Policing would be undermined as offenders gain knowledge about the vehicles owned by the force and therefore use that knowledge to avoid detection. The requested information would reveal the strengths and potential weaknesses of policing tactics and so compromise investigations. This would be to the detriment of providing an efficient policing service and a failure in providing care to both members of staff and the public at large. Clearly the release of this level of detailwould lead to the policing service being undermined as it could be used by those wishing to cause disruption or harm to the communities we serve. It would not be of any service to the public to provide information that could be of advantage to those individuals intent oncausing disruption to the Police assist them in evading detection
Factors favouring disclosure
By disclosing what vehicles we have to enable us to carry out policing activities would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent and to to be better informed.
Factors against disclosure.
It is common knowledge that the national threat level is currently at Severe, meaning a terrorist attack is highly likely and crowded places are highlighted as possible targets. Releasing such data and operational tactics in this current climate would give those individuals with the intent to do so, the intelligence required to disrupt police activity. This knowledge would mean that offenders would be able to target their offending more effectively which would inevitably lead to an increased likelihood of terrorist or criminal activity and an increased danger to the public.
Recent events in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Rouen, and Ansbach (as well as spontaneous violent extremist attacks, such as at Leytonstone Tube Station) have all highlighted continued threat and vulnerability. Northumbria Police has a duty to mitigate potential threats. Disclosure of information which is likely to undermine the Police service’s ability to serve the public in preventing and detecting crime can only be considered as being harmful to the public.
It would not be in either the public or police interests to provide information which could aid those who are intent on causing disruption or harm to our communities or police services. By confirming the identity of covert vehicles and ARVs along with where they are based, as well as which vehicles are used by which teams would compromise law enforcement tactics which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime and put individuals at risk. Discdlosure of any information which highlights tactical capability, particularly relating to these vehicles and especially in the current climate, should therefore be resisted . This information would be invaluable to those wishing to disrupt or prevent law enforcement or commit or aid any terrorist activities.
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. The security of the public is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so would place the safety of individuals at risk or undermine law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the police service is appropriately carrying out its duties, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both law enforcement and the integrity of police investigations and operations. We have therefore concluded that to release information that would lead to the identity of covert vehicles and ARVs or the associated teams vehicles that they are used by would lead to an impact upon the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders and the administration of justice.
Additionally we can see no tangible benefit or policing purpose of such information being released into the public domain.
It is therefore our opinion that for these issues the balance lies in favour of non disclosure of this particular part of your request.
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.