On 8th March I submitted an #FOI request to West Yorkshire Police in relation to their declared intent to reduce the number of Police Dogs from 27 to 20.
Could you please
a) Confirm the intention to reduce Police Dog numbers from 27 to 20
b) Provide me with copies of all Risk and/or Impact Assessments
that were carried out in the process of taking this decision.
Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act they have 20 WORKING DAYS to respond to my request.
Today is Day 20 by my calculations.
Today I received my reply.
“I am afraid that I am unable to provide you with this information at this
point in time and this email serves as a refusal notice. Section 17 of
the Freedom of Information Act states that:
(1) A public authority which, in relation to an request for
information, is to any extent relying on a claim that information is
exempt information must, within the time for complying within Section 1(1)
give the applicant a notice which:
(a) States the fact,
(b) Specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) States why the exemption applies.
The reason why I am unable to provide this information is because an
exemption applies under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act.
This states that information is exempt information if it is held by the
public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any
other person, at some future date (whether determined or not).”
To justify this refusal they then went on to say this;
“The public interest in transparency and openness with regard to decisions
which affect police resources. The programme of change is designed to not
only realise savings but to transform the structure of West Yorkshire
Police – its operations, systems and processes to improve performance.
Cost savings are essential and West Yorkshire Police has to save £112.6m
over four years of the spending review. This equates to 22% of the Force
overall budget. There is a significant public interest in being able to
hold the Police and Crime Commissioner (and the Chief Constable) to
account for decisions which are taken to ensure that cost savings are met
whilst improving performance.
Disclosing this information would increase the understanding of the
difficult decisions which are being considered to meet the funding gap and
the actions which are being taken to maintain an effective police service
in West Yorkshire. Disclosure will also provide reassurance that decision
making is proper and considered.
The programme of change review is still ongoing and it is intended to
publish this information on conclusion of the programme of change.
Disclosure of certain parts of the review, before conclusion of the whole
programme or before proper public consultation has been undertaken, could
have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the remainder of the review
if it then leads to pressure or lobbying for particular decisions to be
Advanced disclosure of part of the programme of change, preventing people
from having the full picture on which to base their judgements, could
damage public confidence which may lead people to feel less safe and have
a greater fear of crime. Early disclosure, before staff consultation,
could also affect staff morale and retention thus having a detrimental
impact on the Force’s ability to meet the challenges ahead.”
In short, they’re not telling me because they intend to publish this information at some unspecified date in the future, it IS in the Public Interest to release the information but NOT YET, if they release the information too soon it could damage Public Confidence (I’ve heard that somewhere else this week too) and make you feel less safe.
Well there you are then, no problem at all having fewer Police Dogs, it seems you should feel safer not knowing the full facts, or is that just me being cynical? Oh, and while I’m on the subject of being cynical, could West Yorkshire Police please tell me why it takes the maximum 20 Working Days just to Refuse the Request?