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.
1) The overall cost to your force of policing the visit of US President Donald Trump which commenced on July 12 2018, including any costs leading up to the event, such as planning and preparation, and any incurred afterwards relating to the event
2) The number of officers your force contributed to the policing effort
3) If it is possible and within the cost limits in the act, can you breakdown the expenditure into how much was spent on:
o Police overtime
o Firearms officers
o Mounted police
o Other specialist units
o Officers brought in from other forces, including which force and how much was spent on each
4) If it is possible and within the cost limits in the act, can you breakdown the numbers of staff working in the categories listed in part three of this request
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Force Resilience Unit of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
1 and 3. The total overall cost information is not held. Not all costs in relation to the visit are necessarily “additional” costs to the force as officers will have been involved in planning or deployment in normal duty time. Normal duty time is not costed for specific events or deployments. However, where Northumbria Officers have been specifically requested and deployed on mutual aid to other forces, a charge, based on nationally agreed guidelines and rates, has been made based on the hours worked and allowances applicable.
For the visit of Donald Trump £123,967 was charged to other forces by Northumbria. On the same basis the force does not have a breakdown of total costs across the categories in question 3 other than the overtime claimed and paid as at the 29 August 2018. The current overtime paid is £15,605. No officers were brought into Northumbria Police from other forces.
2. Northumbria sent 85 officers out of force on mutual aid.
4. No information held. It is not known what role they were deployed in as this was assigned once they were there
Additionally, Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that any other information is held by virtue of the following exemption:
Section 23(5) Security bodies
Section 24(2) National Security
Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test
Section 24(2) is a qualified exemption and as such there is a requirement to complete a test of the public interest in confirmation or denial and I detail the harm first.
Evidence of Harm:
Any release under FOIA is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request. To confirm or deny that any further information is held, along with any other information in the public domain would enable those who sought to threaten the safety of a visiting dignitary to calculate through disclosure of any further information the likely allocation of police resources and tactics being employed during a visit.
The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored. It is important to note that the UK does face a serious and sustained threat from violent extremists and this threat is greater in scale and ambition than any of the terrorist threats in the past. It is generally recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable. The current UK threat level from international terrorism, based on intelligence, is assessed as of today’s date, as ‘Severe’ which means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, see below link:
Government reports suggest that at any one time the police and security agencies are contending with many terrorist plots, terrorist groups or networks and individuals who are judged to pose a threat to the well-being of the UK and or UK interests. While the plots may not necessarily all be directed at attacks on visiting dignitaries or high profile individuals, any attack on the US President or any other overseas Head of State would be of national significance to our country. Confirmation or denial of any further information being held is likely to place individuals at serious risk due to their prominence across the globe.
Public safety is of paramount importance to the policing purpose and must be taken into account in deciding whether to confirm or deny that any further information exists.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24
The public are entitled to know whether any further information is held in relation to the spending of public funds and police resourcing, particularly in relation to high profile state visits. To confirm whether or not any further information exists wouldenable the general public to hold the police service to account in relation to how they plan, allocate resources and provide effective policing
Furthermore, confirmation or denial may improve public debate and allow for better understanding on how the police perform their duties.
Factors against confirmation or denial for S24
Taking into account the current security climate within the United Kingdom, no information which may aid a terrorist should be disclosed. To what extent confirming or denying further information is held may aid a terrorist is unknown, but it is clear that it will have an impact on a force’s ability to plan and police future State Visits.
The public entrust the Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection. The only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with what is placed into the public domain and confirmation or denial in this case may undermine policing measures designed to protect national security.
The cumulative effect of terrorists gathering information from various sources would build a picture of vulnerabilities within certain scenarios. To confirm or deny that any further information is held in relation to state visits and then disclose would allow those who intend to cause harm to calculate areas of more or less risk during state visit occasions.
Any information identifying the focus of policing activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists, extremist or criminal organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of these operational activities (whether information is or is not held in this instance) will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact and compromise the ability of the police to safeguard national security. Confirmation or denial that further information is held in this case is therefore an inappropriate option.
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police Service will never divulge whether or not any further information is held if to do so would place the safety of individual(s) at risk or undermine National Security.
Whilst there is a public interest in appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from criminals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding National Security. As much as there is a public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of National Security, this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances.
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 any information that is released. Confirming or denying whether any further information is or is not held in relation to police resourcing during state visits would definitely reveal policing activity and would assist those intent on causing harm. Any incident that results from confirmation or denial would, by default, affect National Security. The balance test therefore lies in neither confirming nor denying that any additional information is held.