Freedom of Information

sue

Page last updated Wednesday 16th April 2014 at 1755hrs

uPSD regularly reviews the FoI Disclosure Logs of West Yorkshire Police and the Police Commissioner for the same force (formerly West Yorkshire Police Authority) for newsworthy items.

Often the news with these particular public authorities is how they duck their lawful responsibilities, usually citing ‘overcost’, in order to suppress damaging material. We open this section with a prime example of that particular tactic: West Yorkshire Police refused to release the internal and external emails related to the press releases that Sir Norman Bettison made in the wake of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report. A copy of the FoI decision letter is reproduced here.

Before a public body can plead overcost they have to be able to show that a request would take more than 18 hours to complete. Readers can judge for themselves how long this would take Bettison’s PA to assemble.

Another prime example of the perennial deceit engaged in by West Yorkshire Police’s FoI Department came on 12th October 2012 with yet another refusal to provide details of police officers with criminal convictions. This in spite of the information being largely provided by Bettison to his Police Authority. Read here.

Their are a number of other FOI requests to which both the police and the Police Commissioner continue their quite disgraceful approach. We list them here:

Details relating to former South Yorkshire Police officers now serving with West Yorkshire Police. The latest situation is that Sue Durham (pictured above centre), the Force Information Manager, provided a final response that was entirely false.  It contained lies about the total number of ex-South Yorkshire Police officers now engaged by West Yorkshire Police, their ranks and the fact that WYP claim they have no knowledge of C/Supt Clive Wain’s referral to the IPCC.

It is a quite disgraceful effort and should result in Ms Durham’s arrest for Misconduct in Public Office, based on the fact that uPSD believes that the deception was calculated and deliberate – and further that Ms Durham is engaged in a course of conduct that regularly produces similar outcomes.

We also patiently wait for details supporting an investigation into the fiscal relationship between the Force Solicitor and a London barrister’s chambers. Long overdue, the latest email trail betweenWest Yorkshire Police’s Sue Durham and Felicity Stewart-Smith is published here.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Office of the Police Commissioner is as bad, if not worse, than the Police Authority it replaced. Lying repeatedly on information requests is something that stained the WYPA tenure and, incredibly, the same Officer, Julie Reid, is still dealing with FOI requests for the WYOPCC. We have a Commissioner in post who allowed all this to go on, under his nose, for ten years and just seems incapable of or unwilling to sorting it out.

We now have the accounts and expenses for the past 3 financial years for Mark Burns-CreditCard. It was another atrocious effort at discharging the obligations of a Public Authority with no summaries or reconciliation. However, we are very confident that there is a story to tell that will make the national press and signal the beginning of the end of his reign as Police and Crime Commissioner. He refused to produced them voluntarily and, via Chief Financial Officer Dr Judith Heeley, insisted they were made subject to a FOI request.

Open and transparent? Fully accountable to the public? The proposition on both counts is just risible.

We also patiently await details of the fees and expenses paid in connection with the Police Authority membership of the Association of Police Authorities and the fees and expenses paid out to the Association of Chief Police Officers, where the discredited Sir Norman Bettison was still a Director and Vice-President into 2013. The totals will shock the public of West Yorkshire once they are released.

We have also been forced to make a FOI request out of a simple request for the location/address of the Commissioner new offices in Wakefield. We are headed the same way on the number of ‘Listening to You’ first budget surveys which has all the hallmarks of another publlic shambles.

Last but not least the Commissioner is not even prepared to issue details of his first-ever face to face open public meeting. This in his ELEVENTH week in office. It beggars belief but has spawned a demonstration that will take place outside his Wakefield office on 5th February. Mountain and Mohammed and all that…..

We will keep the public and watching professionals posted via this web site and on social media websites. The days of marginalising people and endlessly fobbing them off are over.