Horse grooming - 162/13
Dated: 08 Mar 2013
Date of request: 22/02/2013
Date of response: 08/03/2013
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your letter received 22 February 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.
In relation to the care of police horses within your force, do officers and staff receive any training before being required to undertake grooming of the horse and cleaning the horses hooves?
If you have answers in the affirmative to question (1), please outline what training is provided, including duration. If you have any training materials please disclose them.
Are there any risk assessments completed in relation to grooming and cleaning of police horses hooves? If so, please disclose a copy of the risk assessment currently in force.
Are there any approved techniques used for the grooming of police horses hooves? If so, please describe what the are.
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 Operations Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police.
I have today decided to disclose the located information to you as follows.
1 & 2
Officers receive a 16 week standard equitation course during which they are first introduced to the horse and horse management skills. Officers are allocated a horse during which time, and under supervision by a qualified instructor, they become responsible for the overall management of the horse, which includes grooming and care of the horses hooves.
In relation to training materials, and points 3 and 4 this will not be disclosed as the following exemption applies.
Section 43 (2) - Commercial interests.
Section 43 - Commercial Interests (2)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).
Section 43 is a qualified exemptions and therefore I am required to carry out a public interest test on the disclosure sought. These are outlined below:-
Public Interest Test
Factors Favouring Disclosure:
Accountability for Public Funds
Disclosing the costs would show to the public that an authority is spending public money wisely and effectively and that we have in place
The cost to the local community for the police service that they receive is always the subject of public debate. Any information which would aid
the accuracy of that debate could be of benefit.
Factors favouring non disclosure
Section 43 explains that where the commercial interests of any person is likely to be prejudiced, then that information is exempt from disclosure. In this case, disclosure would be likely to impact on the force to which the information belongs, and could mean financial loss to the employees/stakeholders of that Force.
Disclosure would prejudice the bargaining/negotiating position of this Force. It is believed that to disclose the information requested would compromise and damage the relationship between Northumbria Police and the information holders.
Disclosure of this information may cause a breach of the confidences surrounding this material. There is a risk that disclosure of the requested information could leave an authority at risk of further proceedings.
When balancing the public interest we have to consider whether the information should be released into the public domain. Arguments should be weighed against each other and the strongest consideration favouring disclosure set against the strongest consideration favouring non-disclosure. In this case the right of the public to know needs to be weighed against the damage caused to the public authority. The accountability of public funds and the background to decisions being made are compelling arguments, however this is offset by the fact that the authority is already subject to financial audit and is accountable for the money it spends.
The Police will not routinely release any information which could undermine the relationship between any providers. More importantly the Police would not disclose information that could have any detrimental impact financially without there being an enormous overriding public interest in its disclosure. In this case there is clear evidence as this information was supplied to us at a cost, the creators of the materials would suffer financially if that information was released into the public domain through an FOI disclosure as they would effectively not be able to sell these materials again.
Whilst there is a public interest to know that people are sufficiently trained, as the information can be sought direct from the creator, albeit at a cost, it is not appropriate for this Force to disclose it into the public domain.
In conclusion, the factors favouring non-disclosure outweigh those favouring disclosure.
You should therefore consider this a refusal under Section 17 for this part of your request.
You may wish to contact West Yorkshire Police who are the information holders in this instance, to see if they would consider providing the information to you.
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.