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Cultivation of Cannabis Arrests Since 2014

Question

1. For each year 2014, 2015, 2016 and first 2 months of 2017, please provide the total number of arrests of Vietnamese national adults (broken down by year for this and all the future questions)

2. For each year 2014, 2015, 2016 and first 2 months of 2017, please provide the total number of arrests of Vietnamese national minors (under 18 at time of arrest)

3. For each year 2014, 2015, 2016 and first 2 months of 2017, please provide the number of arrests for offences relating to the cultivation of cannabis under Section 4(2) and Section 6(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971- all nationalities

4. For each year 2014, 2015, 2016 and first 2 months of 2017, please provide the total number of arrests of Vietnamese adults for Cannabis Cultivation

5. For each year 2014, 2015, 2016 and first 2 months of 2017, please provide the total number of arrests of Vietnamese minors for Cannabis Cultivation

6. For each year 2014, 2015, 2016 and first 2 months of 2017, please provide the number of people arrested for human trafficking crimes, both a. Vietnamese b. All nationalities

Answer

For questions 1 – 5, I am not obliged to provide the information requested for 2014 and 2015. The exemption applicable is Section 21 – Information reasonably accessible by other means. This is an absolute and class based exemption and as such does not require a harm and public interest test.

Arrests of Vietnamese nationals are publicly available to view on our website under Previous FOI Requests. I have provided links for your reference.

In accordance with the Act, this represents a Refusal Notice for this part of your request.

Please find the remaining information in the table  in the attached file.

Due to a current issue with our recording system, we are unable to facilitate an electronic search for the arrests for 2014 and 2015. The issue is being looked into, however we are unable to suggest when this will be resolved.

In relation to the question 6(a) for 2016 and 2017 and 6(b) for 2017 I can neither confirm nor deny that this information is held by the virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 30(3) - Investigations

Section 31(3) – Law enforcement

Section 30 is a class based, qualified exemption, therefore there is a requirement to consider the public interest in neither confirming nor denying that the information is held.

Section 31 is a prejudice based, qualified exemption, therefore there is a requirement to evidence the harm that could be caused, and the public interest in confirming or denying that this information is held.  Please see this below:

Harm Considerations

Harm in confirming or denying that information is held (Section 31)

The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime, and protecting the communities we serve. Confirmation or denial that information exists will not be made where the current or future prevention and detection of crime, apprehension and prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice may be hindered as a result. To confirm or deny that the specific information is held could reveal operationally sensitive information.

Public Interest Considerations

Factors favouring confirming or denying that information is held (Section 30)

Confirming or denying that any information relevant to this part of your request exists, would lead to a better informed public that Avon and Somerset Constabulary robustly investigates offences of human trafficking which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to assist investigations and reduce crime. Confirmation or denial would highlight where police resources are being targeted and the public are entitled to know how public funds are spent, particularly in the current economic climate.

Factors favouring confirming or denying that information is held (Section 31)

Confirming or denying that this information exists, would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent and would reassure the public that the constabulary are adequately equipped to tackle this type of crime. Better public awareness would contribute to the accuracy of public debate.

Factors against confirming or denying that information is held (Section 30)

Confirmation or denial that information exists would suggest that Avon and Somerset Constabulary take their responsibility to appropriately handle and manage information provided by individuals to assist with criminal investigations flippantly resulting in the force’s future law enforcement capabilities being negatively affected.

Factors against confirming or denying that information is held (Section 31)

The police service has a duty to deliver effective law enforcement ensuring the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension or prosecution of offenders and administration of justice is carried out appropriately. To confirm or deny that any information is held for 2017 at this point in the year would provide a response for a very short period of time, in this case, just two months  (as per the date of your request). If confirmation or denial was provided periodically for short time periods across the country, it could identify when and where operations were taking place and as such law enforcement tactics would be compromised, hindering the prevention and detection of crime. To confirm or deny that information is held in relation to arrests of Vietnamese Nationals for 2016 and 2017could reveal that to individuals whether or not their activities have been detected. The resultant effect could be that, more crime could be committed and individuals placed at risk.

Balancing Test

The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying that the information requested for question 6(a) for 2016 and 2017 and 6(b) for 2017 is held. The police service relies heavily on the public providing information to assist in criminal investigations and has a duty to protect and defend vulnerable individuals. The public has an expectation that any information they provide will be treated with confidence. Anything which places that confidence at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the police service. Any information (including a confirmation or denial that information is held) that would hinder our ability to enforce the law, prevent and detect crime and protect the communities we serve will not be disclosed.

After weighing up the arguments both for and against neither confirming or denying that the information is held, it is determined that the arguments supporting the stance to neither confirm nor deny that information is held outweigh those favouring confirmation or denial.

In addition, Avon and Somerset Constabulary can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information relevant to question 6(a) and (b) 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 any other information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within 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: 266/17.

Date of request: 26.02.17.

Related documents

  • PDF icon 2016 and 2017 data
    Last updated: 01 June 2017