Initial response from Met Police

Sent via email 8/5/2006

Dear Ms Brooke

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2006030008850

I write in connection with your request for information which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 22/03/2006. I note you seek access to the following information:

ยท I would like to request information about the way police patrol Islamic protests held in London. Can you firstly confirm:

1. If any instructions or guidance exists on how police handle Islamic protests. If so, I would like a copy of this material.
2. How many Islamic protests have occurred in the past three years. If possible, list the date and location of these protests. Secondly, I would like more detailed information about the recent Islamic protests held in London in response to the publication of Muslim cartoons in European newspapers.
3. Please confirm what protests took place (date and location).
4. I would then like the police logs for these protests.
5. I would also like any other documentation (including correspondence) that involves the decision not to arrest protestors.
Following receipt of your request searches were conducted within the MPS to locate information relevant to your request. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by the MPS.

RESULT OF SEARCHES

I have today decided to:

  • disclose records numbered 1 to 3 in full;
  • fully exempt records number 4 to 5 pursuant to the provisions of section 30, 38(1), 44(1) of the Act.
    1: If any instructions or guidance exists on how police handle Islamic protests. If so, I would like a copy of this material

    We do not hold any instructions or guidance on how to police islamic protests.

    2: How many Islamic protests have occurred in the past three years. If possible, list the date and location of these protests
    3: Secondly, I would like more detailed information about the recent Islamic protests held in London in response to the publication of Muslim cartoons in European newspapers. Please confirm what protests took place (date and location)

    27/07/2003 Rally for Islam by members of Al Muhajiroun, Trafalgar Square
    03/02/2006 March and static pickets to protest against the publication of anti Muslim cartoons in world media, assembled at the Central London Mosque, marched to Danish embassy. They then moved onto protest outside the Norweign Embassy, Spanish Embassy, and German Embassy. The march then moved onto its final destination outside the French Embassy.
    04/02/2006 March and static pickets to protest agianst the publication of anti Muslim cartoons in world media, Outside the Danish, Spanish, Norwegian and German embassies.

    4 and 5 : I would then like the police logs for these protests. I would also like any other documentation (including correspondence) that involves the decision not to arrest protestors.

    REASONS FOR DECISION


    THE FOLLOWING EXEMPTIONS APPLY


    S30 (1) Criminal Investigations or proceedings


    This is a qualified and class-based exemption


    As such, there is a requirment for the public interest test to be applied. However, as a class-based exemption, legislators have already accepted that harm may be caused by the release of any information that falls within this exemption, pending the application of the public interest test


    Under S30 of the act, information is exempt if it has been held at any time for the purposes of an investigation to ascertain whetether or not an individual should be charged with an offence, or whether an individual who has been charged with an offence is guilty of it. Information is also exempt if it relates to criminal proceedings which the force has the power to conduct.

    S38 (1) Health and Safety


    This is a qualified and prejudice – based exemption. As such, I am required to apply the harm test and the public interest test.


    A S38 exemption may be applied where disclosure of information would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health of any individual of the safety of an individual. This exemption applies to ‘any individual’. This may be a Police Officer, awitness, a member of the public. The applicant, friends and relatives etc and the harm may actual or perceived. It refers to physical, mental, emotional, psychological etc types of harm


    S44 1(b) Prohibitions on Disclosure: Absolute and class based


    Public Authorities are able to withhold information where its release is incompatible with any Community Obligation. The purpose of this exemption is to establish and protect a fair and unbiased Court process.


    The release of any information regarding this investigation at this time may not only prejudice the outcome, but breach Regulation 6 of the Human Rights Act, an individual(s) right to fair trial. I regret therefore, that I am unable to provide the requested information to you under this exemption.


    Harm Test


    In considering whether or not this information should be disclosed, I have considered the potential HARM that could be caused by disclosure. The release of any information could unwittingly cause information sources to be identified. The release of police tactics will prejudice future police operations and could place members of the public and Police Officers in danger.


    Public interest considerations favouring disclosure


    Assist in the public understanding of the workings of the Police Service ensuring informed public debate
    It would show the Police Service to be open, honest and transparent in their activities


    Public interest considerations favouring non-disclosure


    Would compromise future police operations and activity
    Would be likely to compromise the ability of police officers to apprehend armed criminals/offenders and prevent crime
    Would compromise the ability of police officers to safely conduct their duties

    Balance Test


    After weighing up the competing interests I have determined that the disclosure of the above information would not be in the public interest. I consider that the benefit that would result from the information being disclosed does not outweigh dislcosing information requested.

    COMPLAINT RIGHTS

    Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of complaint.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the MPS.

    Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please write or contact Alexandra Norrie on telephone number 0207 230 3153 quoting the reference number above.

    Yours sincerely

    Alexandra Norrie
    Information Manager

    In complying with their statutory duty under sections 1 and 11 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release the enclosed information, the Metropolitan Police Service will not breach the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. However, the rights of the copyright owner of the enclosed information will continue to be protected by law. Applications for the copyright owner’s written permission to reproduce any part of the attached information should be addressed to MPS Directorate of Legal Services, Room 613, Wellington House, 67-73 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6BE

    COMPLAINT RIGHTS
    Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the decision is incorrect?

    You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to review their decision.

    Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.

    Ask to have the decision looked at again –

    The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision letter.

    That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and assist with any problems.

    Complaint

    If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the decision reviewed.

    Complaints should be made in writing and addressed to:

    Public Access Office
    Empress State Building
    Empress Approach
    Lillie Road
    London
    SW6 1TR

    In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your complaint within three months.

    The Information Commissioner

    After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Act.

    For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk. Alternatively, phone or write to:

    Information Commissioner’s Office
    Wycliffe House
    Water Lane
    Wilmslow
    Cheshire
    SK9 5AF
    Phone: 01625 545 700

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