Q1) How many computers within your force run the Windows XP operating system?
West Yorkshire Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you have requested as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of Section 24(2) National Security and Section 31(3) Law Enforcement.
Please see Appendix A for the full legislative explanation as to why West Yorkshire Police can neither Confirm nor Deny whether any information is held.
Q2) What is the total number of fax machines currently in use by your force?
West Yorkshire Police do not hold any information in relation to this question. We do not have any fax machines in use within the force.
Q3) What is the total number of pagers currently in use in your force?
West Yorkshire Police do not hold any information in relation to this question. We do not have any pagers in use within the force.
Q4) How much did your force spend on in 2022:
b) paper scanners
West Yorkshire Police spent £471,332 on printers in 2022. Scanners are part of the printers and therefore included in these costs.
As per our response to question 3, we do not have any pagers in use within the force.
Q5) How much did your force spend on postage in each of the past 5 years?
Please see the below table for the requested 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 FOI 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. These exemptions 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, so that is accessible if 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.
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), giving 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.
Reason for decision.
West Yorkshire Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you have requested as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemption(s):
Section 24(2) National Security
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Sections 24 and 31 being prejudice based qualified exemptions, both evidence of harm and public interest considerations need to be articulated to the applicant.
Harm in Confirming or Denying that Information is held
Policing is an information-led activity, and information assurance (which includes information security) is fundamental to how the Police Service manages the challenges faced. In order to comply with statutory requirements, the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice for Information Assurance has been put in place to ensure the delivery of core operational policing by providing appropriate and consistent protection for the information assets of member organisations, see below link:
To confirm or deny whether West Yorkshire Police uses a certain operating system would identify vulnerable computer systems and provide actual knowledge, or not, that this software is used within individual force areas. In addition, this would have a huge impact on the effective delivery of operational law enforcement as it would leave forces open to cyberattack which could render computer devices obsolete.
This type of information would be extremely beneficial to offenders, including terrorists and terrorist organisations. It is vitally important that information sharing takes place with other police forces and security bodies within the UK to support counter-terrorism measures in the fight to deprive terrorist networks of their ability to commit crime.
To confirm or deny whether or not West Yorkshire Police relies on a certain operating system would be extremely useful to those involved in terrorist activity as it would enable them to map vulnerable information security databases.
Public Interest Considerations
Section 24(2) National Security
Factors favour complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that information is held
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and how resources are distributed within an area of policing. To confirm whether West Yorkshire Police utilises Windows XP/7 would enable the general public to hold West Yorkshire Police to account by highlighting the use of out of date software. In the current financial climate of cuts and with the call for transparency of public spending this would enable improved public debate into this subject.
Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming or denying that information is held
Security measures are put in place to protect the community we serve. As evidenced within the harm to confirm information is held would highlight to terrorists and individuals intent on carrying out criminal activity vulnerabilities within West Yorkshire Police.
Taking into account the current security climate within the United Kingdom, no information (such as the citing of an exemption which confirms information pertinent to this request is held, or conversely, stating ‘no information is held’) which may aid a terrorist should be disclosed. To what extent this information may aid a terrorist is unknown, but it is clear that it will have an impact on a force’s ability to monitor terrorist activity.
Irrespective of what information is or isn’t held, the public entrust the Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection and the only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with what is placed into the public domain.
The cumulative effect of terrorists gathering information from various sources would be even more impactive when linked to other information gathered from various sources about terrorism. The more information disclosed over time will give a more detailed account of the tactical infrastructure of not only a force area, but also the country as a whole.
Any incident that results from such a disclosure would, by default, affect National Security.
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that information is held
Confirming that information exists relevant to this request would lead to a better informed public which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to reduce the risk of police networks being hacked.
Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) neither confirming nor denying that information is held
Confirmation or denial that information is held in this case would suggest West Yorkshire Police take their responsibility to protect information and information systems from unauthorised access, destruction, etc., dismissively and inappropriately.
The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying the requested information exists. The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. As part of that policing purpose, information is gathered which can be highly sensitive relating to high profile investigative activity.
Weakening the mechanisms used to monitor any type of criminal activity, and specifically terrorist activity would place the security of the country at an increased level of danger.
In order to comply with statutory requirements and to meet NPCC expectation of the Police Service with regard to the management of information security a national policy approved by the College of Policing titled National Policing Community Security Policy has been put in place. This policy has been constructed to ensure the delivery of core operational policing by providing appropriate and consistent protection for the information assets of member organisations. A copy of this can be found at the below link:
In addition, anything that places that confidence at risk, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the Police Service. Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information is held.
No inference can be taken from this refusal that information does or does not exist.