Bedfordshire Police Headquarters,
Woburn Road, Kempston,
Bedford, MK43 9AX
Telephone: 01234 842547
10th January 2020
Our Ref: FOI2019/07700
REQUEST UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 Ref No: FOI2019/07700
I write in connection with your request for information received on 7th December. I note you seek access to the following information:
I write to you with a request for information under Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
With that in mind, I would like to request the names of generic and/or threat/risk specific emergency plans held by the Force, and the table of contents for each.
Please take the terms "generic" and "risk-specific" to hold the same meaning as is used in Chapter 5 of the Cabinet Office's guidance on Emergency Planning, available on the World Wide Web at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/pdf
Please exclude from my request any plans specific to geographical areas, also known as site-specific plans. I believe that including these would contravene the threshold set in Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
I am required by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (The Act) to handle all requests in a manner that is blind to the identity of the requestor. Any information released in response to a request is regarded as being published and therefore, in the public domain without caveat.
– Cambridgeshire Constabulary can confirm that it holds information in relation to your request however, I am not obliged to supply the information you have requested. Such information is exempt under the following exemption: -
Section 31 (1()(a) – Law Enforcement
The Section 31 exemption is a prejudice based qualified exemption - which requires the prejudice (harm) to be evidenced and a public interest test to be carried out.
Public interest test
Some of the exemptions in the FOI Act, referred to as ‘qualified exemptions’, are subject to a public interest test (PIT). This test is used to balance the public interest in disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding the information, or the considerations for and against the requirement to say whether the information requested is held or not. We must carry out a public interest test (PIT) where we are considering using any of the qualified exemptions in response to a request for information.
In carrying out a PIT we consider the greater good or benefit to the community as a whole if the information is released or not. The ‘right to know’ must be balanced against the need to enable effective policing and to serve the best interests of the public.
The FOI Act is ‘applicant blind’. This means that we cannot, and do not, ask about the motives of anyone who asks for information. In providing a response to one person, we are expressing a willingness to provide the same response to anyone, including those who might represent a threat to the UK.
Considerations in favour of disclosing the information:
Police forces have a responsibility to conduct business in an open and transparent manner. The disclosure of the information would assure the public that the forces are committed to responding to emergency contingencies in the appropriate manner, and by having access to the plans in place would lead to better public awareness.
Considerations in favour of withholding the information:
The disclosure of the information would mean releasing sensitive information into the public domain. When dealing with emergency situations it is the remit of the police to preserve life and thereafter, preserve evidence. As such, enabling the general public to access and understand force response at a tactical level could compromise law enforcement overall, which in turn hinders the prevention and detection of crime.
On weighing up the competing interests, the public interest favours non-disclosure of the requested information. This decision is based on the understanding that the ‘Public Interest Test’ is not what interests the public, but is what would be best for the victims and the community if disclosed as a whole.
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter please do not hesitate to contact me quoting the above reference number.
Constabulary provides you the right to request an independent review of this response under its review procedure. If you require such a review you must notify us within two months from the date of this letter. After lodging a complaint with Cambridgeshire Constabulary if you are still dissatisfied with the decision you may make an application to the Information Commissioner. For information on how to make a complaint please visit their website at https://ico.org.uk/concerns/ or contact them on 0303 123 1113.