Disclosure Details

BNP UKIP membership - 084/13

Dated: 27 Feb 2013

Date of request:      24/01/13

Date of response:   21/02/13

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)

Thank you for your email dated 24 January 2013 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 by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked: 

How many employees have been identified as being members of a) BNP b) UKIP and how many of those have been i) dismissed ii) suspended iii) face other disciplinary action?

After clarity was sought you confirmed as being over the  past 5 years.

In response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Professional Standards and Human Resources Departments of Northumbria Police. 
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

a) No employees have been identified as being members of BNP

i) ii) iii) - None

In addition Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny it holds any information in relation to investigations it may have or have not conducted, which have not subsequently been placed in the public domain. Not only would this undermine any current investigation by alerting those who are suspected of criminal activity, but it may also thwart any such investigation which is being managed as a covert operation. This in itself would disclose our tactical options, undermining future operations, but also in this case potentially disclose personal data of an individual. This is because the list to which you refer contained the names of individuals. To confirm, or deny that certain action may or may not have been taken will reveal whether an individual named was suspected of being employed by the force.

This may not in fact mean they are a member of the BNP but in fact do no more than simply confirm that we have a member of staff with the same name as one that appears on the list.
Before refusing to comply with the provisions of S1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, the force also has to analyse any public interest factors in neither confirming nor denying that information is or is not held if any of the exemptions cited are qualified in nature. Both S30 and S31 are, so the following public interest factors are relevant.

S30 Investigations

Favouring confirmation or denial:

Confirming the existence of information would show that the force conducted an investigation, which the public would expect, and are being open and transparent in its findings.
Against confirmation or denial:

An investigation could be compromised disclosure  could hinder the prevention or detection of crime. That may even be because under FOIA forces may provide different responses and application of the S30 exemption in some areas and not others would in fact immediately expose such investigations.

S31 Law Enforcement

Favouring confirmation or denial:
Some information regarding the ability to check against any list is already in the public domain and its full usage would make the public better informed.

Against confirmation or denial:

Law enforcement tactics could be compromised and there could be a hindrance to the prevention or detection of crime.
Balance of Public Interest

The potential harm to current and future investigations outweighs any public benefit in knowing if any additional information is, or is not held. Police Officers and staff are held to public account for their actions by the misconduct regulations and the force is held to account for investigating such matters appropriately by Her Majesties Inspector Of Constabulary, and/or in some cases by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. As such safeguards are already in place there is no further tangible community benefit in complying with section 1(1)(a) of the Act at this time.

This response should not be taken as an inference that the force does, or does not hold any further information in relation to your request.
It may assist you to know that the Police Service would be legally entitled to process this sensitive personal data anyway, under Schedule 2 Condition 5 and Schedule 3 paragraph 10 (Statutory Instrument 417/2000,  the Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000, paragraph 2).  The grounds for any decision would be that being a member of the BNP is incompatible with the role of a police officer/police staff and would be regarded as gross misconduct requiring formal action. This does not however mean that this force have taken such action at this time.

b) No information held.

i) ii) iii) - None

The Policy document for guidance on membership of such groups and organisations is published, and therefore freely  available,  on the Northumbria Police website.
In order to assist I have provided the relevant link below.

http://www.northumbria.police.uk/about_us/policies_plans_and_strategy/policies/Command_Services/details.asp?id=17814

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.


How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.

Downloads

FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-67103