Anonymity in Misconduct Hearings
Date of request: 26 June 2023
1) In the last 5 years how many cases of anonymity in misconduct hearings have been granted? (This is anonymity for the subject of the hearings).
2) In the last five years, how many cases of anonymity have been granted where those cases have been an accelerated hearing?
3) In the last 5 years, where anonymity has been granted, what are the reasons recorded for the granting of anonymity?
4) In the last five years, where anonymity has been granted, how many of these cases involve sexual misconduct?
We have undertaken a search of our records for misconduct hearings (not meetings) for officers from 2018 – 2023 (to date) where the data field ‘anonymised’ has been completed with ‘yes’. The decision to grant anonymity at misconduct hearings lies with an independent legally qualified chair. For accelerated hearings this decision will be made by the Chief Constable.
In some cases, anonymity may be achieved by way of a private hearing rather than a public hearing. In other cases, a public hearing may take place with the name of the subject not being published after the hearing. Police staff hearings are always held in private and therefore anonymity does not apply.
- Avon and Somerset Police holds information on the subject you have requested, however, I have to advise you that on this occasion we will not be able to answer your request without exceeding the appropriate cost limit. This is because the reason for anonymity being granted is not centrally recorded. To retrieve and extract this information would require us to manually review all documents in each individual case file. Due to the length and complexity of these files, we have so far spent a number of hours attempting to retrieve the requested information for a limited number of cases, with no success. With 20 cases to review we have estimated it would take in excess of 18 hours to complete.
Section 12 of the Act makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate cost limit, which for police authorities is set at £450 or 18 staff hours. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2.5 working days in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting it.
This serves as a refusal notice under section 17(1) of the FOI Act.
Due to the reasons set out above, I am unable to assist you, under our section 16 obligation, on this occasion in refining your request to fit within the cost and time limits set out within the Freedom of Information Act.