Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
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.
How many arrests under anti-terrorism laws did the force make each year between 2015-most current data available. If possible please provide breakdown of nature of suspected terror offence (eg right wing extremism, Islamist terrorism).
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Corporate Development Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police however will not be disclosed and by withholding we rely on the following exemptions:
Section 24(1) National Security
Section 31(1) Law Enforcement
Section 24 (1)
Factors favouring disclosure
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and resources distributed within policing as a whole. To release information around terrorism related arrests would inform the public that Northumbria Police allocate their resources appropriately. In the current climate of cuts and with the call for transparency of public spending this would enable improved public debate, and give further reassurance to the public.
Factors favouring non-disclosure
Security measures are put in place to protect the community that we serve. Disclosure of the requested information would allow terrorists and individuals intent on carrying out criminal behaviour, to identify areas of the country with increased/reduced terrorist activity, which potentially will assist them with avoiding detection. This would ultimately increase the risk of harm to the general public and significantly undermine any ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infrastructure of the United Kingdom and increase the risk of harm to the public.
Taking into account the current security climate within the United Kingdom, no information which may aid a terrorist should be disclosed. To what extent this information may aid a terrorist is unknown, but it is clear that it will have an impact on a force’s ability to monitor terrorist activity.
The public entrust the Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection and the only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with what is placed into the public domain.
The cumulative effect of terrorists gathering information from various sources would be even more impactive when linked to other information gathered from various sources about terrorism. The more information disclosed over time will give a more detailed account of the tactical infrastructure of not only a force area but also the country as a whole. Any incident that results from such a disclosure would, by default affect National Security.
Releasing information 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.
Factors favouring disclosure
Releasing information in relation to terrorist related arrests would lead to better public awareness into the intricacies of how operational policing is conducted. This may lead to more information (intelligence) being submitted from the public which may culminate in a reduction of crime.
Factors favourite non-disclosure
Releasing this information would compromise the effective delivery of operational law enforcement. It could allow terrorists and individuals intent on carrying out criminal behaviour, to identify areas of the country with increased/reduced terrorist activity, which could hinder the prevention and detection of future crime. More crime could be committed and individuals placed at risk.
The points above highlight the merits of both disclosure and non-disclosure. The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. As part of that policing purpose, information is gathered which can be highly sensitive relating to high profile investigative activity.
Weakening the mechanisms used to monitor any type of criminal activity, and specifically terrorist activity would place the security of the country at an increased level of danger. In addition anything that places that confidence at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the Police Service. Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours non-disclosure.