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  • Not just any hold-up…this is an ICO hold-up

    Posted on May 5th, 2009 admin No comments
    Gun crime reports will now be disclosed

    Gun crime reports will now be disclosed

    The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has at last dealt with the oldest appeal on its desks - a case which it took just under FOUR years to resolve.

    On January 12, 2005, an applicant asked West Yorkshire Police for the numbers of illegal firearms the force had seized in the last five years. The requester also asked: “Could I have copies of any reports prepared by, or received by West Yorkshire Police on the issue of gun crime or gun-related crime in the region or which include substantial reference to those issues over the same time period.”

    Some information was provided to the applicant but when access to the reports was not forthcoming an appeal was lodged with the ICO on April 29, 2005.

    The appeal notice stated that the reports were provided to the applicant in a redacted form but this didn’t satisfy the requestor. The redacted sections were justified by the police by the use of: Section 30 (Criminal Investigations), Section 38 (Health and Safety), Section 40 (Personal Information) and Section 41 (Information Provided in Confidence).

    A ruling was made by the ICO in a decision notice [FS5073382] which was dated March 16, 2009 - three years and eleven months after the appeal was lodged.

    It states that the redactions due to S.41 were incorrectly applied. The ICO ruled that although some of the information came from third parties it was the police that created the reports, even if some of the conclusions were based on the third party evidence. The ICO stated the exemption was not engaged because the information was not obtained from another party.

    In relation to S.30 the ICO ruled there were two types of information - some that related to specific crimes and investigations and secondly data and reports which are an amalgamation of individual crimes. He ruled that the specific crime information was covered by the exemption and the public interest was in favour of the information being withheld. However, he said the more general information was not covered by S.30.

    The decision notice says: “the Commissioner considers that the information which relates to patterns of criminal activity in geographical areas, patterns of crime occurrence, intelligence and analysis is not information relating to any specific investigation and therefore cannot be exempt under section 30(1).”

    West Yorkshire Police had used S.40 and S.38 to protect the names of people in the report saying that to disclose them would be a breach of their personal data and would expose them to risk. The ICO agreed that it was personal data so didn’t then go on to consider if S.38 had been engaged on not.

    The result of four years of waiting was that a total of 47 pieces from the six documents which had been redacted will now have to be disclosed to the applicant.

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