Metropolitan Police withheld dozens of sensitive documents

A document released by the Metropolitan Police, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), has revealed dozens of other FOI disclosures that the police illegally withheld from publication. Many of the disclosures could have been potentially damaging for the Met.

Under FOI laws, responses to information requests should be released within 20 working days. This document lists disclosures that missed the deadline.

The requests which the Metropolitan Police have breached the FOI Act over have included:

  • “Copy of guidence given to police officers relating to the student protest on 24 November 2010”
  • “Guidence issued to police officers relating to the student protest on Thursday 9th December”
  • “Questions as to whether Plain Clothes Police Officers were deployed at all Student Demonstrations in 2010”
  • “Papers relating to student riot at Millbank 10/11/2010”
  • “Plain Clothes Police Officers present at 2009 G20 Protests”
  • “Question in relation to MET investigation into wrongful telephone interceptions by News International”

The Met refused to comment on the delay of the disclosures, but said that the “vast majority” of information releases are published on time. A spokesman for the police force said: “Due to the complexity of some requests, they take longer to complete.”

So what happened with these withheld disclosures? In most cases, responses were eventually sent to the people who had requested information, after a very long wait. It seems that, in most cases, the requests only received a ‘partial disclosure’. The Met said: “There is no system in place to prioritise requests.  Requests are dealt with in the order they are received and on a strict case-by-case basis.” However, they admitted that “requests of a more “sensitive” nature will obviously take a longer time to process than those which are more straight forward.”

But the real issue here is not a conspiracy, but is to do with open access to public information about potentially important or controversial things. The Metropolitan Police only spends between £406,055 and £487,153 per annum on all of its staff for any FOI-related role in their Public Access Office. Maybe more staff are needed. Maybe they need to improve their information collation system. Or maybe they should just save everyone some time by publishing more documents online voluntarily.

View the document here:

http://www.met.police.uk/foi/pdfs/disclosure_2011/march/2011030001047.pdf

View the full online Metropolitan Police FOI disclosure log here:

http://www.met.police.uk/foi/disclosure/disclosure_log.htm

Advertisements

One Response to Metropolitan Police withheld dozens of sensitive documents

  1. Pingback: Exclusive: Metropolitan Police “deleted” phone-hacking emails « AccessDocs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s