Prevent Programme - 374/16
Dated: 15 Apr 2016
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
Thank you for your e mail dated 16 March 2016 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
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. How many individuals have been referred to the Prevent or channel programme by GPs since the year beginning 2014 until the present date?
Please give a breakdown of the referral numbers for years 2014, 2015 and 2016
2.How many individuals have been referred to the Prevent or channel programme by other health staff since the year beginning 2014 until the present date?
Please give a breakdown of the referral numbers for years 2014, 2015 and 2016
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Northumbria Police will neither confirm nor deny any such information is held and by doing so we rely on the following exemptions.
Section 24(2) (National Security)
Section 31(3)(Law enforcement)
Section 40(5) (Personal information).
Overall harm for Sections 31 and 24
The confirmation or denial of specific Channel data would provide information to those who seek to challenge the process, which would not be in the public interest. Allegations of 'spying in the community' and 'targeting Muslims' misrepresent and undermine the intention of Channel and ultimately the Prevent programme, which seeks to support those individuals vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremism. To confirm or deny that figures are held stating whether GP’s have or have not referred individuals through to the Channel programme would reveal detailed site specific statistics which would lead to the identification of where such referrals may or may not be taking place. If information is held it could identify
· individuals who have been referred;
· those who may have referred individuals to Channel in confidence;
· local organisations who are working with us to protect and safeguard those at risk; and
· ongoing cases which could lead to the withdrawal of individuals from the process and thus threaten the successful conclusion of a case.
Confirming or denying that information is held would bring the process into disrepute, destroy trust and damage Prevent at a National level.
Channel is a multi-agency process, which aims to support those who may be vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremism. It works by providing a mechanism for:
· Identifying individuals who may be at risk of and vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremism.
· Accessing the nature and extent of the risk
· Where necessary, referring cases to a multi-agency panel which decides on the most appropriate support package to divert and support the individual at risk.
Channel aims to draw vulnerable individuals away from violent extremism before they become involved in criminal activity. Effective information sharing is crucial in ensuring that delivery partners, such as education, children's services, probation and local public health agencies and local community partners are able to build a comprehensive picture of an individual's vulnerability, and therefore provide the appropriate type and level of support to safeguard the individual at risk. This requires the local community to work in partnership with the police and other local agencies and to share information appropriately and responsibly.
The security of the country is of paramount importance and Northumbria Police will not confirm or deny that any information is held as this would undermine National Security or compromise Law Enforcement. Channel is part of the Prevent strand of CONTEST, the Governments' Counter Terrorism Strategy, and if information is held by Northumbria Police in regards to Channel directly relates to counter-terrorism policing. In addition, any prejudice to counter-terrorism policing directly impacts on the police support and the delivery of CONTEST.
A confirmation or denial of any detailed breakdown of the agencies, authorities or partners that made the referrals would lead to these partners disengaging from the referral process, as well as, potentially in some extreme cases, aid the identification of those involved in the referral process itself, or of those referred.
Factors favouring confirming or denying information held under Section 31
Confirmation or denial that any information is held would inform the public whether there are effective processes in place to ensure that people showing signs or indicators that they are intent to use violence or other illegal means are monitored effectively and assessed for the presence of vulnerability. Confirmation or denial that information is held would inform the public whether the Police have in place protocols to deal with these types of incidents and offences. The Home Office regularly publishes national statistical data on Prevent data. Confirmation or denial would inform the public as to the level relationship the police has with other organisations.
Factors against disclosure of information for Section 31
Confirmation or denial that information is held would mean that law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime. The confirmation or denial of information would lead to more crime would be committed because criminals would know which forces are focusing on the Channel program and where such referrals are and are not taking place. A fear of crime would be realised because if the terrorists identified more vulnerable areas, they would target and exploit these areas and the public would be in fear of more criminal/terrorist activity occurring. There would be an impact on police resources because if the measure used by forces to detect terrorist activities and safeguard people is confirmed or denied and some areas are deemed to be 'softer' at managing this threat, terrorist cells may move to these areas in order to continue their operations and target vulnerable individuals. There could be local implications with wrongful identification of those making the referrals and those subject to the referrals which in turn could lead to further offences being committed in the community.
Factors favouring disclosure of information for Section 24
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by disclosing this information the public would be able to see where public money is being spent and know that forces are doing as much as they can to combat terrorism and radicalisation. Revealing this information would enable the public to have some reassurance that the Governments Counter Terrorism strategy is robust. This is an issue high on the public agenda and therefore the release of this information would contribute to an informed public debate.
Factors against disclosure of information for Section 24
Confirmation or denial that information is held would detail where Channel is or is not operating in this manner. Revealing detailed statistics may increase interest in cases which could ultimately lead to the identity of individuals and the organisations we work with, which may assist others intending to counter such work. Identification of those working locally to deliver the aims and objectives of Channel could enable those wishing to counter such work to engage in activity to disrupt and jeopardise the successful delivery of ongoing work. This could threaten the successful delivery of Channel and the government's counter terrorism strategy and lead to the public being at increased risk from terrorism. There is also a potential for such data to be used to increase community tensions in an area which would not be in the public interest
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine National Security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations, information gathering and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively safeguarding those who are vulnerable to radicalisation and targeting the cells behind the radicalisation, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in the highly sensitive area of terrorism.
As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of national security this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances. Whilst there is a strong public interest in the transparency of policing programmes and in this case, detailing figures on GP referrals to Channel, combating the threat posed by individuals with the intent to use violence and other illegal means, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of the those referring individuals to the Channel programme.
Northumbria Police will not confirm or deny that information is held in relation to this request. The confirmation or denial that information is held would highlight which forces may have individuals who are more susceptible to radicalisation and how each force tackles this within their communities. It would also confirm or deny whether GP’s within the force area are making referrals. This will adversely affect the forces ability to detect this type of crime as it may alter the behaviours of those preying on vulnerable individuals. This in itself could put the individual's life at risk along with that of National Security.
It is therefore our belief that the balance test lies in favour of not confirming or denying that information is held.
Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another. Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.