Body Armour Contract - 448/21

Date Responded 30 April 2021

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.

You asked:

Regards the purchases of body armour:
1. Who is/are your current supplier/s
2. When does the contract end
3. How long was the contract term
4. When will the new procurement process start
5. What is the current level of protection
6. What is the current unit price per vest
7. What was the total value of the contract award
8. How many units of body armour have been purchased during the contract term

In Response:

1. Mehler Vario.

2. 2022.

3. Up to the life expectancy of the armour – 10 years.

4. The Force is intending to participate in a new national Police contract being arranged by Bluelight Commercial. Work is due to commence in the new financial year with the intention to have a national police contract in place during 2022/23.

5. The current level of protection is HG1A/KR1.

6. With regards to the costs per vest this information will not be disclosed and by withhold we shall rely on the following exemption.

Section 43 (2) Commercial Interests

Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it.)

As Section 43 (2) is a prejudice based qualified exemption and there is a requirement to articulate the harm as well as carrying out a public interest test. I have carried these out below.

Harm

Disclosure of the amounts paid is likely to cause financial loss to both the supplier and the purchasing authority. This may undermine the integrity and effectiveness of the tender process as authorities may not be in a position to purchase the best all round service as unit cost may become the sole overriding factor.

Public Interest Test

Factors Favouring Disclosure
The release of the information would demonstrate the openness of the organisation to explain and account for monies spent on vehicles used by the force. This would contribute to the accuracy and quality of public debate.

Disclosure of the information would show the openness of the processes by which such services are procured.

Factors Against Disclosure
Release of the information might jeopardise the interests of third parties in relation to sensitive commercial information held in relation to contractual, financial or business issues and to protect the commercial interests of service providers. Such disclosure may dissuade those service providers from giving favourable rates to the police service. As this is public money this would impact on the force getting the opportunity to be provided with the best deals and value for allocated budgets.

Balance Test

A disclosure which greatly affects the ability of a product supplier to operate in a free market would have a knock on effect on the effectiveness of the force to do business in the future. Disclosures under Freedom of Information which harm commercial partners will make it more difficult to attract suitable suppliers in the future, as they avoid that risk to their organisations. This will mean that the numbers of options to select from could be reduced which in turn could mean either inferior products having to be selected or more expensive options having to be chosen.

You should consider this to be a refusal notice under section 17 of the Act for those parts of your request outlined above.

7. No information held. The award was part of a national framework, and as such the Force’s value of the contract was not specified.

8. Around 4600 sets of patrol overt body armour has been purchased since 2012/13.

 

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