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New Kadampa Tradition - 339/20

Date Responded 10 March 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:

Please can you tell me how many criminal reports have been filed in the last 10 years against a charity called the new kadampa tradition (also known as NKT)?

Please break this down by calendar year

(2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019). Please also say the nature of the complaint and any additional information that can be released.

In Response:

Northumbria Police will neither confirm nor deny any information relating to this request is held and by doing so we rely on the following exemptions.

Section 30(3) Investigations

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

Section 40(5) Personal Information

Harm in complying with S1(1)(a) – to confirm or not whether information is held

Any release under FOIA is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request.  To confirm or not that information is held pertinent to this request would reveal whether or not Northumbria Police  has received allegations of criminal offending by a registered charity.

The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice for Investigation is a public facing document and provides guidance on the key roles and principles on the process of criminal investigation.  It includes guidance for both reactive and proactive investigations, from volume crime to major crime.

It is a business process with an intention to provide focus to operational policing and to achieve a disproportionately greater impact from the resources applied to any problem.  It is dependent on a clear framework of analysis of information and intelligence allowing a problem solving approach to law enforcement and crime prevention techniques.

Irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, to confirm whether or not a registered charity has been involved in criminality would undermine any ongoing investigations and reveal investigative activity. 

In addition, the College of Policing APP Information Management module is a national standard adhered to by all police forces across England and Wales.  Police information refers to all information obtained, recorded or processed for a policing purpose and includes information which is processed (known as data, including personal data) and information which has been subject to a process of evaluation (known as intelligence).

Confirmation or denial that information is held relevant to this request would undermine the APP for both Investigations and Information Management.

Finally, to confirm or deny whether information is held in this case has the potential to undermine the flow of information (intelligence) received from members of the public into the Police Service and relating to organisations they may suspect of carrying out criminal offences.  Consequently, this could lead to police officers having to be removed from their frontline duties in order to increase manpower on an investigation.  Individuals may also be identified, or wrongly identified, as using the charity as front to cover their offending behaviour.

Public Interest Consideration

Section 30

Factors favouring complying with S1(1)(a)

Confirming or denying whether information exists relevant to this request would lead to a better informed general public by identifying that Northumbria Police robustly investigate allegations made against organisations such as a registered charity.  This fact alone may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to assist with investigations and would also promote public trust in providing transparency and demonstrating openness and accountability into police investigations.

Factors against complying with S1(1)(a)

Modern-day policing is intelligence led and forces at times share information with other organisations law enforcement agencies as part of their investigation process.  To confirm or not whether an individual has been the subject of a criminal investigation could hinder the prevention and detection of crime as well as undermine the partnership approach to investigations and law enforcement.

Section 31

Factors favouring complying with S1(1)(a)

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and resources distributed within an area of policing, such as in this case, whether investigations into a named registered charity are undertaken.  Transparency would highlight how the police effectively monitor and deliver operational law enforcement in relation to criminal activity.

Factors against complying with S1(1)(a)

Confirming whether or not Northumbria Police  has investigated New Kadampa Tradition registered charity for criminal offences, would suggest that the force takes their responsibility to protect confidential information provided to them by members of the public, seriously and appropriately to ensure the effective delivery of operational law enforcement.

In addition, Northumbria Police has a duty of care to the community at large and public safety is of paramount important.  If an FOI disclosure revealed information, by citing an exemption, or stating no information held, which confirms a registered charity has been subject of a criminal investigation, could lead to community unrest with the Buddhist community as well as the general public, if individuals identify or wrongly identify individuals they suspect are involved in criminality and using the charity as a front.  Such actions may compromise public safety.

Balance Test

The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying that information pertinent to this request exists.  The Police Service relieves heavily on the public providing information to assist in criminal investigations and has a duty to protect and defend vulnerable individuals.  The public has an expectation that any information they provide will be treated with confidence and in line with the APPs mentioned within the harm.  Anything which places that confidence at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the Police Service.

In addition, the effective delivery of operational law enforcement takes priority and is at the forefront of Northumbria Police to ensure the prevention and detection of crime is carried out and the effective apprehension or prosecution of offenders is maintained.  This includes ensuring our relationship with other law enforcement agencies runs smoothly in the joint approach to any multi-agency investigations that may or may not have taken place.

Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for confirming, nor denying, that information is held is not made out.

No inference can be taken from this refusal that information does or does not exist.

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