Another month of prevarication and delay - what is so difficult about this ?
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
FOI Reference: [nnnnn]
1 September 2010
I am writing in relation to your information request dated 11 June 2010 and further to
my letter of 4 August 2010.
In keeping with the decision of the ICO (ref: FS50198733) we need to consider fully the use of the exemption in section 24 (1) of the Act, which relates to information supplied by or relating to national security.
No you do not ! Such information was not requested.
It is inconceivable that any warnings or intelligence about terrorist threats passed on to Chief Constables would be exactly duplicated in the geographical extent of the area which a section 44 Authorisation would cover - it is almost certain that the area which the Police would ask for an Authorisation for, would be larger than the actual target e.g. several streets around a political party conference hotel, an area of several kilometres around an airport terminal building or runway etc.
I have noted the point you have made about section 31 in your email of 6 July. As you are aware, however, the ICO did not consider use of the exemption at section 31(1) (a), (b) and (c).
If this section 44 extraordinary, temporary power for "stop and search" without reasonable suspicion is meant to act a s a deterrent, the time, date and geographical location of when and where it is in force must not be kept secret !
Publishing such information would have no effect whatsoever on operational security or investigations, since the numbers and types of Police deployed to unspecified roadblocks and checkpoints is not part of such Authorisations nor was it even asked for in this FOIA request.
We will still need to address the use of this exemption when responding to your request. To take account of the points raised in your most recent email we need more time and will need a further extension. We now aim to let you have a full response by 30 September 2010.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the further delay in replying to your request and assure that we will respond as quickly as possible.
Should you have any queries about the handling of your information request then please do not hesitate to contact us at the above address quoting reference [nnnnn].
[name of civil servant]
This is now the second extension of the Public Interest Test which the Home Office is taking.
The 30th of September 2010 would be 77 working days after the initial FOIA request.
This is now contrary to the Information Commissioner's Office guidelines which say that such Public Interest Test should take no more than 40 days in total, even in the most complicated cases
our view is that public authorities should aim to respond fully to all requests within 20 working days. In cases where the public interest considerations are exceptionally complex it may be reasonable to take longer but, in our view, in no case should the total time exceed 40 working days.
Where any additional time beyond the initial 20 working days is required to consider the public interest, the public authority must still serve a "refusal notice" under section 17 of FOIA within 20 working days of a request even in those cases where it is relying on a qualified exemption and has not yet completed the public interest test.
By taking so long to consider the same Public Interest Tests which they have already done before, the Home Office seems to be trying to delay a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office, who will not accept a complaint until the departmental Internal Review procedures have been exhausted.