July 2010 Archives

[Home Office logo]

Office for Security and Counter Terrorism
2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
E-mail: OSCTFOI@homeoffice.x.gsi.gov.uk Website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk

{email address]#ho_foia@nym.hush.com

[XXXX]

FOI Reference: nnnnn

6 July 2010

Dear [XXXX],

Thank you for your e-mail of 11 June 2010, in which you ask for details of stop and search authorisations under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Your request is being handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are considering your request. Although the Act carries a presumption in favour of disclosure, it provides exemptions which may be used to withhold information in specified circumstances. Some of these exemptions, referred to as 'qualified exemptions', are subject to a public interest test. This test is used to balance the public interest in disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding the information. The Act allows us to exceed the 20 working day response target where we need to consider the public interest test fully.

The information which you have requested is being considered under the exemptions in sections 24 and 31 of the Act, which relate to information supplied by or relating to national security and law enforcement. These are qualified exemptions and to consider the public interest test fully we need to extend the 20 working day response period. We now aim to let you have a full response by 4 August 2010.

If you have any questions about the handling of your information request then please do not hesitate to contact us quoting the reference nnnn

Yours sincerely,

{name of civil servant]


N.B. our FOIA request re-emphasised that we are not requesting any information from the background or tactical intelligence, which may have been submitted to the Home Secretary in order to justify the supposedly temporary suspension of the normal laws on stop and search in a particular area, so there does not need to be any "public interest test" under the FOIA section 24 national security exemption.

Such background intelligence may well be necessary to make a reasonable decision as to whether to grant or deny an Application by a Chief Constable for Section 44 extraordinary powers, but that is not mentioned in the wording of the Terrorism Act 2000,. This Act only specifies that the Application has to include time, duration and location data and that it has to requested by someone of the appropriate rank i.e. Chief Constable / Commissioner of Police or their Deputies.

Surely, since hundreds or thousands of people may have been illegally stopped and searched, not just once or twice, but dozens of times, as the Home Office has now admitted, the public interest balance in favour of disclosure must also apply under the FOIA section 31 law enforcement exemption.

See:.

Ministerial Statement to the House of Lords:
Terrorism: Stop and Search
10 June 2010

by Baroness Neville-Jones the Minister of State (Security) at the Home Office,

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wms/?id=2010-06-10a.66.0&s=speaker%3A13936#g66.1
HL Deb, 10 June 2010, c66WS

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/100610-wms0004.htm#10061034000361

The number of such stupid errors would have been vastly reduced or even totally eliminated, if the Home Office had published the times, durations and location of each application of the extraordinary, supposedly temporary, section 44 stop and search without reasonable cause powers., simply because members of the public, the press and the lower rank and file of of the Police forces themselves, would have acted as a check on the handful of secretive slap dash bureaucrats and politicians who messed things up, over and over again.

If they had been open and transparent by publishing the information requested in our FOIA request, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg could not have ruled against the Labour Government and the Home Office, in the CASE OF GILLAN AND QUINTON v. THE UNITED KINGDOM:

87. In conclusion, the Court considers that the powers of authorisation and confirmation as well as those of stop and search under sections 44 and 45 of the 2000 Act are neither sufficiently circumscribed nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse. They are not, therefore, "in accordance with the law" and it follows that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

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Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

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WhatDoTheyKnow.com

WhatDoTheyKnow.com - FOIA request submission and publication website from MySociety.org

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team." - does this apply to the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government as well ?

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests

foi.mysociety.org - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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