FOI date
FOI reference
FOI 1770705/23

We received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):

How many arrests, cautions or reports have been made for offering or aiding with hymenoplasty/virginity testing under the Health and Care Act 2022 since April of 2022

Our Response:

Unfortunately, West Yorkshire Police are unable to provide you with the information requested as this is exempt by virtue of Section 31 (1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement and Section 40(2) Personal Information.

Please see Appendix A, for the full legislative explanation as to why West Yorkshire Police are unable to provide the information. 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 creates a statutory right of access to information held by public authorities.  A public authority in receipt of a request must, if permitted, state under Section 1(a) of  the Act, whether it holds the requested information and, if held, then communicate that information to the applicant under Section 1(b) of the Act. 
The right of access to information is not without exception and is subject to a number of exemptions which are designed to enable public authorities, to withhold information that is unsuitable for release. Importantly the Act is designed to place information into the public domain. Information is granted to one person under the Act, it is then considered public information and must be communicated to any individual, should a request be received. 
Your request for information has been considered and I regret to inform you that West Yorkshire Police cannot comply.  This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.   
Section 17 of the Act provides: 
(1)  A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which:- 
(a) States the fact, 
(b) Specifies the exemption in question, and 
(c) States (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. 
The reason that we are unable to provide you with this information is covered by the following exemption(s): 
Section 31 (1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement
Section 40(2) Personal Information 

Section 40 is an absolute class based exemption therefore there is no requirement to provide evidence of harm or consider the public interest test.

To disclose the information would significantly increase the risk of individuals being identified which would breach principle 1 (lawfulness, fairness and transparency) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Section 31 is a qualified prejudice based exemption and therefore I am required to provide evidence of harm and consider the public interest test, for which my considerations can be found below.
Every effort should be made to release information under Freedom of Information. However, to provide information that would undermine operational policing would not be in the public interest. To disclose how many arrests, cautions and/or reports have been made regarding the stated offences since April 2022 to present date would show the level of activity overall. Outstanding offenders would know the situation relative to their crime, but providing a number may only serve to indicate further the likelihood as to whether the police is actively pursuing them at that time. Such action would directly hinder t any past, present or future investigations, and the apprehension of an offender. 

Factors favouring disclosure
To disclose the information would adhere to the basic principle of being open and transparent which in turn would lead to a better-informed public.

Factors favouring non-disclosure
Where the current or future law enforcement role of the force may be compromised by the release of information, the effectiveness of the force will be reduced. Disclosure could potentially undermine the flow of intelligence. The public have an high expectation that any information provided to the Police will be treated with confidence, anything that places this confidence at risk would undermine any trust individuals have in the Police, which could potentially affect our ability to prevent and detect crime, which in turn would have an adverse effect on the safety of the communities we serve

Balancing test
West Yorkshire Police are tasked with carrying out investigations to support the prevention and detection of crime, resulting in the apprehension of offenders. Whilst disclosure would adhere to the basic principle of being open and transparent, we believe that when weighed against the risks of disclosing information which could hinder the prevention or detection of crime, the factors favouring non-disclosure far outweigh the factors for disclosure