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Police Secondments - 041/20

Date Responded 04 February 2020

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:

Under the Freedom of Information Act I would like to request information relating to the personnel from external organisations who have been seconded to work for your force between the period Jan 1, 2018 - January 6, 2020.  This request relates to both Police Officers and civilian staff.

For each of these secondees, please provide:

  1. their job title.
  2. the name of the organisation or body they have been seconded from.
  3. the group, directorate or branch of your force they work in.
  4. a brief description of their area of responsibility while on secondment to the force.
  5. Whether the department makes a contribution towards the salary of the secondee.
  6. The start date and scheduled end-date of the secondment.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the People Services Department of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however will not be disclosed and we will rely on the following exemptions:

Section 31 - Law Enforcement

Section 40 - Personal information

Section 40 – This exemption is a class based absolute exemption - This means that the legislators have identified that there would be harm in disclosure and there is no need to evidence this or carry out a public interest test.

Section 31 - This exemption is a qualified and prejudice based exemption and therefore the legislators accept that there may be harm if released into the public domain.  The authority has to consider and describe the harm that would occur if the information were released and carry out a public interest test.  In accordance with best practice, I detail the harm first.

Harm

Disclosure of this type of information which identifies the focus of policing activity with other units or agencies i.e. NECTU or NCA could be used to the advantage of terrorists of criminal organisations.  Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety, and have a negative impact on law enforcement.  To disclose this information would be detrimental to the successful deployment of officers and the work associated with other agencies in the future, if used to circumvent policing tactics.

Disclosing the location of officers who work within specific areas, particularly those who perform a covert function, would provide to be useful resource information for those who may wish to circumvent the work of such areas and thereby prejudice their ability to conduct their work, as some people could use this information to attempt to ‘overstretch’ their resources. 

Vulnerabilities and capabilities would be highlighted.  Offenders intent on committing criminal behaviour could create a mosaic of data and build up a picture of the numbers of officers seconded into each force. 

Public Interest Test

 Factors Favouring Disclosure

Disclosure would lead to a better awareness for the community in relation to this topic area enabling informed public debate to be undertaken.

Factors against Disclosure

Information of this nature could jeopardise Law Enforcement, harm any individual or the wider public.

Balancing Test

Disclosure would undoubtedly compromise law enforcement for the reasons already outlined above.  Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our belief that the balance test lies in favour of not disclosing the information.

In addition we can neither confirm nor deny that we hold any other information with regard to an exempt body as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemption:

Section 23(5) - Information Supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies

Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.

Confirming or denying the existence of whether any other information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information applied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies. 

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