Tag Archives: metropolitan police

Did St Albans Council give misleading figures on FOI requests from police – and could other authorities be doing the same?

St Albans Council are one of an increasing number of public bodies to complain about Freedom of Information requests. In calculating the cost to the body of a quarter of a million pounds every year, they said that over one in ten requests come from the Metropolitan Police.

But Tim Turner was skeptical. So he asked how many of the police requests actually mentioned FOI. They avoided the question:

“St Albans drew my attention to a section on the Information Commissioner’s website which says that any request for information that is plainly not an EIR or a subject access request should be treated as an FOI.”

The implication being that routine requests for information from other public bodies may be being classified as ‘FOI’ as a way of inflating costs and supporting the case against it – even where they would previously just be routine.

Turner then asked specifically how many of those police requests were made under the Data Protection Act:

They admitted that all of them were“.

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Mobile journalism: Section 44 is dead – long live Section 43

One of the pictures the student was taking at the time he was stopped by plain-clothes officers

An image taken by the student when he was stopped by plain-clothes officers

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was an ongoing problem for photographers and journalists using mobile phones who would find themselves stopped, searched, and sometimes arrested by police. After ongoing pressure and a judgement in the European Court of Human Rights, the section was finally suspended last July.

Now Amateur Photographer reports on the Metropolitan Police defending officers’ decision to stop and search a student for merely taking photographs near a school (the image above was being taken when he was approached by police). The search was done under Section 43, which “can only be enforced if a police officer ‘reasonably suspects’ a person to be a terrorist.”

Meanwhile, police are seeking new powers to replace those given under Section 44.

If you use mobile technology in your journalism, it’s worth keeping the stop and search bust card about you.

h/t Ewen Rankin