Added by Freedom of Information Team on 29 November 2017 at 11:27
Please provide a list of all reported/logged crimes from January 1 2012 onwards to date where any of the words ‘dark web’, ‘dark net’, ‘darknet’, ‘Tor’, ‘The onion router’, ‘.onion’, or ‘Zeronet’ appear.
For each crime, please provide the date, location, name of offence and the outcome of the investigation – i.e. no suspect(s) identified; if suspect(s) arrested whether they were charged, cautioned, or no further action was taken.
Please find attached details of crimes where the terms you mention above have been recorded.
Please note that this is purely a word search and it should not be assumed specifically that the dark web etc was in any way connected to the crime.
Due to a change in our recording system the information is available from 2015 onwards.
I have presumed from the wording of your email that your request crimes that have been finalised.
Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Avon and Somerset can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any further information pertinent to this request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 30(3), Investigations and proceedings
Section 23(5), Information supplied by or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters.
Section 24(2), National security
Overall harm for the NCND
The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored. It should be recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable. The UK faces a sustained threat from violent terrorists and extremists. Since 2006, the UK Government have published the threat level, based upon current intelligence and that threat has remained at the second highest level, ‘severe’, except for two short periods during August 2006 and June and July 2007, when it was raised to the highest threat, ‘critical’, and in July 2009, when it was reduced to ‘substantial’. The current threat level to the UK is ‘severe’.
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Constabulary will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine national security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by a terrorist attack, or disruption due to extremism, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in the highly sensitive areas of which they work.
Modern-day policing is intelligence led, and intelligence changes on a day-by-day basis.
Confirming or denying whether any information is held relevant to the request would show where policing interest has or has not occurred in any specific area which would enable those engaged in criminal activity to identify the focus of policing targets. Any information identifying the focus of this activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations to plan an attack on the more vulnerable parts of the UK. Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both national security and law enforcement.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary works in partnership with other agencies in order to combat issues such as terrorism and organised crime. Confirming or denying that information exists relevant to this request would seriously undermine this partnership approach.
Public Interest Test
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24
Confirmation or denial that any other information exists relevant to the request would lead to a better informed public. The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent especially with regards to safeguarding national security
Factors against confirmation or denial for S24
Other organisations outside the Police Service may, or may not, have an active interest in the subject of the question above. By confirming or denying that any information exists relevant to the request would harm the close relationship that exists between us and other organisations. To confirm or deny whether the force hold any information relevant to the request would allow inferences to be made about the nature and extent of national security related activities which may or may not take place in a given area. This would enable terrorists or organized criminal groups to take steps to counter intelligence, and as such, confirmation or denial would be damaging to national security.
By confirming or denying any policing arrangements of this nature would render national security measures less effective. This would lead to the compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infrastructure of the UK and increase the risk of harm to the public.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S30
There is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the Constabulary is appropriately and effectively dealing with crime. This is particularly pertinent in high profile situations where there is a high degree of media speculation. Confirming or denying whether any information is held would allow the public to make informed decisions about these matters
Factors against confirmation or denial for S30
Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that we are appropriately and effectively dealing with crime, there is a strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations and in maintaining confidence in the Police Service. Confirmation or denial that any information is held relevant to the request would undermine any investigative process and compromise the integrity of any operations
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. The security of the country is of paramount importance and we will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk, compromise law enforcement or undermine National Security.
Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that we are appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from terrorists and criminals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this highly sensitive area.
It is for these reasons that the Public Interest must favour neither confirming nor denying that the requested information is held. However, this should not be taken as necessarily indicating that any information that would meet your request does or does not exist.
FOI reference: 1287/17.
Date of request: 19.10.17.