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Modern Slavery Act Offences Between March 2015-March 2017

Question

Please state how many reports of offences under the Modern Slavery Act have been recorded by the force in each of the last two years since it became law.

Please outline each offence and provide a summary of the offence.

If possible provide a location where the offence was allegedly committed.

Please also state how many prosecutions have been made by the force under the Modern Slavery Act in each of the last two years since it became law.

Please outline each crime and provide a summary of the offence.

If possible provide a location where the crime was committed.

If it is not possible to provide a full summary for each offence and prosecution without breaching the FOI time limit, please state how many include the phrases “car wash” or “wash cars”. 

If possible could the recorded crimes and prosecutions be grouped in two years as follows:

From 26 March 2015 to 25 March 2016

From 26 March 2016 to 25 March 2017

Answer

There are strict guidelines on the recoding of Modern Slavery crimes as part of the Home Office Crime Recording Standards. Please see the number of reports and the number of prosecutions in the table below:

Time Period

Reports

Prosecutions

From 26 March 2015 to 25 March 2016

 

14

0

From 26 March 2016 to 25 March 2017

 

95

 

1

Total

109

1

Useful information about modern slavery including the help and support available can be found on our website. I have provided the link for reference. 

I am not obliged to provide the offence, summary and location as this information is exempt from disclosure by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 40(2) – Personal information

Section 30(1) – Investigations

Section 31(1) – Law enforcement

Section 40 is a class based, absolute exemption therefore there is no need to evidence the harm or consider the public interest in disclosure.

Section 31 is a prejudice base, qualified exemption; therefore there is a requirement to evidence the potential harm in disclosure. Section 31 as well as Section 30 is a qualified exemption, so there is a requirement to consider the public interest in disclosure. Please see this below:

Harm Considerations Section 31(1)

The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime, and protecting the communities we serve. Information will not be disclosed where the current or future prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension and prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice may be hindered as a result. To disclose specific information concerning the offence, location and summary could identify the constabulary’s capability and tactics used.

Public Interest Considerations

Factors favouring disclosure for section 31(1)

There is a public interest in the communities we serve being made aware of the facts relating to this area of policing in order to ensure openness and transparency. Disclosure of this information could go some way to ensuring to the public that we are appropriately equipped to tackle this type of crime and that debates surrounding these issues are informed and accurate.

Factors favouring non-disclosure for section 31(1)

Disclosure of the requested details relating to each report of modern slavery could disclose sensitive information. Releasing this information could identify where police resources are engaged and could identify operations thus enabling individuals or groups to become aware that their activities have been detected, therefore hindering the prevention and detection of crime.

Factors favouring disclosure for section 30(1)

Disclosure of the requested information may go some way to promote trust in the police service demonstrating that the constabulary robustly investigates offences of modern slavery.

Factors favouring non-disclosure for section 30(1)

It is the Association of Chief Police Officers’ approach that information relating to investigations and proceedings conducted by a public authority will rarely be disclosed under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as releasing specific details could prejudice and compromise investigations into modern slavery. The right to a fair trial would also be undermined.

Balancing Test

The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. This is of paramount importance to the police service and information that would hinder this ability will not be disclosed. Whilst there is public interest in openness, transparency and the assurance that we are appropriately and effectively allocating resources, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding tactics and operations and managing the information we receive from the public appropriately in order to protect investigations relating to this sensitive area of policing. It is for these reasons outlined above, that the argument is weighed in favour of non-disclosure.

In addition, Avon and Somerset Constabulary can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any further information with regard to an exempt body as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemption:

Section 23(5) Information Supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.

Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.  Confirming or denying the existence of whether information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out with Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information applied by, or concerning, certain security bodies.

FOI reference: 489/17.

Date of request: 07.04.17.