Thames Valley Police have been ‘ordered’ by the Information Commissioner to reveal whether or not they used RIPA to covertly investigate Journalists. Previous requests by the Oxford Times to establish the facts were refused with a Vexatious label. The newspaper appealed to the Information Commissioner who has found in favour with the newspaper and ordered the Force to respond.
Surely this brings into question all the other Refusals issued by Police Forces around the country which relate to their use of RIPA, not for being Vexatious but because of the ‘secret’ nature of RIPA, normally resulting in a ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ response.
The fact the Information Commissioner ruled on a case labelled Vexatious is surely irrelevant. The precedent has been set, Police Forces can not claim a blanket indemnity against answering RIPA questions? Surely each request should now be judged on its merits and possibly even answered?
Maybe Forces will now go back to all of those they originally refused and process them correctly?
And then I woke up, it won’t ever happen because Forces are far too precious about their use of RIPA. They could answer questions relating to RIPA without giving away any secrets whatsoever, but they choose not to.
Hopefully this is the first crack in their defences which can be forced wider over time. I have no wish to compromise methodology and investigations, but let’s be honest, most of us already know what those methods are anyway.
When I requested to be told the number of occasions on which RIPA had been used against Police Officers, how is supplying me with a sterile number doing anything to undermine their effectiveness? It doesn’t.
Let’s see what happens now.