Freedom of Information

2005 to 2015 – A Decade Measured

2005 to 2015  – A Decade Measured

“There’s no going back, and there’s no hiding the information. So let everyone have it.”
Andrew Kantor

An often-asked question is, ‘How many former police officers have injury awards?’

The Home Office claims it doesn’t have a clue about numbers.  Whether you believe that or not is up to you.

So, unfortunately there is no central database, and with 43 police forces in England and Wales, one in Northern Ireland and one in Scotland, gathering in the information is something of a chore.  We at IODPA are pleased to say that for us it was a task worth undertaking.  And the results of our enquiry are revealing.

IODPA has been busy.  Using the Freedom of Information Act, all police forces except Police Scotland* were asked the question of how many injury award recipients they have. They were also asked how many reviews of injury pensions have been conducted by year since 2005.

* We didn’t ask Police Scotland because we get no enquiries from north of the border, and we also understand that having recently combined eight forces into one some record systems are in a mess.

First, the facts. The results are set out below in graphical form. Then the comment. We have added some observations on what the figures might indicate to conclude this post.

Not all forces have provided the information requested. South Wales Police and Lancashire Police both advise that they have handed over all their files concerning police injury pensions to commercial companies, who are now, it seems, administering these pensions. Cumbria Constabulary and Surrey Police are experiencing delays in providing the information.

From the data we have received we know there are 15,543 disabled former officers in receipt of injury pensions. By looking at some previous research, undertaken in 2011, we are able to estimate that the true figure is in excess of 16,500.

At the end of 2010, there were 13,872 IOD pensioners in England and Wales.  If we remove the PSNI figure of 2,566 IOD pensioners from our current estimated total, we see that in England and Wales, there are around currently 14,000 IOD pensioners on the books.

IOD ratio to Serving
Plot 1. Percentage of IODs to Serving Officers by Force (2015)

Plot 1 shows the ratio as a percent of IODs to serving officers by each force.  Those forces without a bar (at the bottom of the axis) have as yet not replied to the FOIA request

Unsurprisingly, Police Service of Northern Ireland, has the biggest proportion of IODs at almost 35%.  Other forces with a high proportion of IODs are: Kent, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire, Northumbria, North Wales and Avon & Somerset.

Plot number 2 is a bar chart showing the actual number of IODs of each force.

Number of IOD Pensioners
Plot 2. Number of IOD Pensioners by Force (2015)

Avon & Somerset, Greater Manchester, Kent, Merseyside, the Met,  Northumbria, Northern Ireland and West Yorkshire all have 500 or over current IODs.

Plot 3 displays the percentage of IOD pensions of each force which have been reviewed over the past 5 years.  No blue bar means no reviews.  Only 12 forces have instigated any reviews over the past 5 years.

Percentage Reviewed
Plot 3. Percentage of IODs Reviewed by Force 2011 – 2015

Now we start to see patterns appear.  The names of forces with either a high proportion of IODs to serving officers or/and over 500 IODs reappear as forces that have also reviewed post the Home Office suspension in 2010.  Avon & Somerset, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire are visible again.

Could it be that the greater number or higher proportion of IODs, the greater the incentive to attempt to reduce their financial burden?

Plot 4 shows us the distribution for the total count of reviews of each force  by the two 5 year periods: 2005 to 2010 (blue) and 2011 to 2015 (pink).

Plot 4. Histogram (frequency count) of all  reviews 2005 to 2010 (blue) and 2011 to 2015 (pink)

A simplified description of plot 4 is that there is a lot of blue.  Most of the pink is in the first column – the range of counts at zero. In other words in 2011-2015 most forces did not review anyone. The blue counts are asymmetrical.  This means the blue stretches to the right (right skewed)  and there are significantly more values of blue to the right as compared to pink.  Something ‘happened’ in  2005 and this ‘something’ stopped in 2010.

That something was the 2004 guidance contained in Annex C to Home Office circular 46/2004. The guidance contained the remarkable assertion that at age 65 all former officers suddenly lost all capacity to work and thus earn. The guidance also contained some illogical mumbo-jumbo about needing to revise injury pensions at what would be normal force retirement age.

The Home Office suspended all reviews in 2010 because the guidance was finally, after much pointless resistance by the Home Office, agreed to be unlawful. Police Authorities and Chief Constables had been shown to have been abusing the police pension Regulations, with the encouragement of the Home Office.

Plot 5 dramatically displays the initial enthusiasm, from 2005, for reviewing with a pre-ordained intention to reduce everyone no matter what the medical circumstances of the individual.  This came to a crashing halt in 2010.


review 2005-2015
Plot 5. Scatterplot of number of reviews by Force and Year 2005 to 2015

Plot 5 shows the flat-lining of reviews post 2010 with only a few forces daring to raise their heads. Merseyside in 2015 is a massive outlier – to be able to hold so many reviews in just one year their processes will have had to been changed dramatically from the norm of the past decade.

The data shows that a sudden enthusiasm for holding reviews of injury pensions, triggered by the Home Office guidance, was not universal, and that it rapidly tailed off once pensioners brought grievances to the attention of the High Court and the Pensions Ombudsman. The Home Office retreated and withdrew its guidance, but the damage was done.

The year on year reduction of reviews over the past decade is backed up with data published by the Home Office in relation to the decisions made in Police Medical Appeal Boards.  Plot 6 shows the numbers of PMAB decisions by the type of hearing: reviews (degree of disablement) or original decisions (permanency, whether it is an IOD,  disablement).

There has been a visible decline in all PMABs with a flat lining of hearings in the 12 months between Nov 13-Oct14.

PMAB results by year
Plot 6.  PMAB hearings by Year and Decision

Strong anecdotal evidence suggests that some Police Pension Authorities are solving their own ‘review’ conundrum by not awarding any injury on duty pensions (and deviantly leaving the officer on both no pay and indefinite sick leave).  Or if an award is given the force uses, in the words of NAMF,  the ‘neither lawful or unlawful’ method of the PEAM to only award band one to the former officer.

Plot 7 shows that over the past 7 years there has been an overall 2% increase in the total number of former officers with an Injury Award.

What is striking is the massive variation between forces.

Some Forces have doubled their number of IOD awards (Kent) whilst others have seen their number halved (Norfolk). Has Kent become twice as dangerous? These figures in isolation may seen trivial to the casual observer but by quantifying the figures now we have a baseline that will be the enabler to show future trends.  This will mean that no force can hide their actions from IODPA and other interested parties.

Percent Change IODs 2008 to 2015
Plot 7. Percentage change of IODs by Force from 2008 to 2015


What can not be displayed graphically is the fact that those who have caused so damage to so many medically retired officers by unlawfully conducting reviews are still in their jobs. They have destroyed what little trust existed but still they hold meetings and discuss alternative methods to undermine the Regulations. It is as though they were shown a glimpse of a golden future, where they were promised that what has been described by more than one mercenary member of HR as ‘the burden’ of police injury pension payments could be dramatically reduced. Having seen the illusion of pots of money flowing from the pockets of disabled former officers, to be spent on flashy new cars and computer systems and hiring more and more ‘Heads of People’ or other equally ridiculously-titled poppinjays, it is hard for some people to abandon the dream.

We at IODPA are confident any such dream will turn into a nightmare if there are any further attempts to subvert the Regulations and rob IOD pensioners of their rights.

Looking at the numbers – around 14,000 disabled former officers – we have to wonder why neither NARPO nor the Police Federation apparently have no database of former officers who are in receipt of an injury pension. It is a mystery.  Protecting the pension rights of disabled former officers would be made easier if these two representative organisations made the effort to compile a database.  Interestingly, we understand that NARPO does not even ask the question, ‘Do you have an injury pension?’ when former officers apply to join.

We mentioned the Police Service of Northern Ireland in relation to chart one. The biggest force, with the largest number of IOD pensioners. We are glad to say that this force has taken major steps to put right the iniquities of maladministration which resulted from abuse of the Regulations. This force commissioned an eminent QC, David Scoffield, to enquire into everything, and to produce recommendations. Which he did. And which the PSNI are currently busy implementing.

But, are forces on the mainland watching and listening to events in Northern Ireland? As always, the picture is divided. We can see from the data above that the vast majority of forces in England and Wales either have not held any reviews since 2010, or have held only a handful. However, Avon and Somerset, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire are still in cloud-cuckoo land and have been busy trying to mass review.

Either these forces have lost all touch with reality, or they are an axis of evil. Why would any decent, ethical, humanitarian organisation want to continue holding reviews when all the evidence is that no force has the structure in place, the experience, the training, or the knowledge to do so without continuing to make glaring errors and causing much distress and inconvenience to disabled former officers and their families? That’s not just IODPA’s opinion, it is the facts, as set out in a recent report of an enquiry by the College of Policing. (Which we reported on in an earlier blog).

So, should we be pleased that so few reviews have been held over the last five years? When we see that of the 806 reviews held there were 55 pensioners who had their pensions increased, but 83 who suffered a decrease we have to reserve judgement. We think it entirely possible that the forces who have held reviews may be ‘cherry-picking’ – selecting the pensioners on the higher bandings for review, whilst leaving everyone who is on band one alone. That is certainly the case in Avon and Somerset.

We suspect that never holding reviews can be as bad, for some people as holding mass reviews. Those people who have experienced a worsening of their degree of disablement since 2010 and who should have been upped a band or more, have been denied their proper rate of pension.

We conclude that reviews are a necessary part of the provisions within the Regulations. We have often stated that we are not against reviews, per se, but we want to see all forces abandon their attitude where they think reviews are a means of saving money, and that all pensioners are scroungers or lead-swingers. We want to see forces set up proper systems to allow reviews to be conducted only when absolutely necessary and appropriate, and done so within the spirit and letter of the Regulations, and we want to see pensioners treated with dignity and respect. We want to see certain ‘hired-gun’ SMPs sacked, or better still, sacked and charged with corruption or fraud. We want to see certain incompetent HR managers employed at their true level of ability stacking shelves or collecting trolleys at Tescos. Only then will we rest content. Until that time we will continue to grow in strength, and in numbers, and our determination to see justice prevail will never waver.




“Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship.”
Bruce Coville (WDTK) is an extremely valuable website.  Without it the Freedom of Information Act would  be in a far, far greater perilous state than it is at the moment.

You have the right to request information from any publicly-funded body, and get answers. WhatDoTheyKnow helps you make a Freedom of Information request. It also publishes all requests online

The unique attraction, and strength,  of WDTK is the on-line publication of each request and the responses by public bodies. By putting everything into the public domain in such a visible and readily accessible form it makes it that much harder for a public body to deal with one requester differently from another. The responses are also instantly searchable by key word and it is possible to tag a public body, or an individual request and get automated updates in one’s area of interest.

When Freedom of Information requests are made by letter or email only the requester knows whether the public body has responded promptly, and unless the organisation has a web based publication policy, and follows it, nobody else gets to see the information gathered.

The WDTK website automatically calculates what the deadline for a response should be, and alerts the requester should there be a delay. The site also contains useful hints and tips on how (and how not) to make a FOI request, and what to do should an organisation refuse to provide the requested information.

In short, WDTK makes it easy for anyone to make FOI requests, and we at IODPA recommend it.

For the more technical minded, it is worth knowing that there is a useful tool which can be used to extract data from WTDK. It is called JSON.  This stands for Javascript Object Notation.  This geeky name isn’t important and there is a point to all this so please don’t tune out yet!

Requests, users and authorities all have JSON versions containing basic information about them. Every request feed has a JSON equivalent, containing summary information about the list of events in the feed. In other words, this tool provides a quick way of getting numbers from everything on WDTK.

Want to instantly know how any requests the Home Office has received? How many were answered?  How many are overdue?  For an example of what can be done, take a look at this:

Home Office JSON link

So what does this all mean to you?  It means we can quickly quantify and compare how public authorities deal with FOIA requests.  Of course, not all requests are sent through WDTK but it is the most widely used method so is hugely representative.

An interesting statistic comes in the answer to this question: of all the public authorities listed as being a policing body, how many requests are unsuccessful?

Would it shock you to to learn that over half of all requests made to public bodies via WDTK which are classed as ‘policing’ were not successful?  Policing bodies are making a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act!

Here is a frequency chart, otherwise known as a histogram,  which is a diagram consisting of rectangles whose area is proportional to the count.  The count in this case is the percentage of unsuccessful requests by all bodies listed on WDTK as classified as a ‘policing body’.


See the high bars, from the tallest, at 40%, 50%,100% and 70%?  40% is the mode; the mode is a type of average and on a histogram it is the tallest column and so is the value that appears most often in a set of data.  The next highest is 50% then 100% and so on.  As you can see there are more bars the further right you look.  The average of the data is 59.8%.  In other words almost 60% of requests to policing bodies are unsuccessful.

So 60% of requests to police authorities are not answered!  Shameful isn’t it.

Policing bodies apparently have a culture of doing whatever they can to prevent disclosure under the FOI act.

To prove this point let us see how NHS trusts compare.  This histogram has the same data as the above but this time we have overlapped the figures of policing bodies unsuccessful requests with data from the 237 active NHS trusts listed on WDTK.

nhs and policing

The NHS trusts are shown in blue and the policing body data is now in pink.  It is clear that the NHS trusts are far more consistent with each other – the blue bars are grouped significantly closer together than the pink.  But look at the highest point now with the sharp decline of blue to its right and notice that there is only a small handful of NHS trusts that fail to answer more than 50% of received requests – this is directly contrary to the majority of the policing bodies whose unsuccessful request count spans further to the right and all the way to 100%.  Past 50% there is much, much more pink than blue.

The average of unsuccessful requests for NHS trusts is only 32%.   Stating the obvious, this is significantly lower when compared to the 59.8% of policing bodies.

Why the difference? And why is the NHS performing better in answering FOIA requests? The disclosure law applies in equal measure to all.  There is no doubt that within policing bodies an institutional arrogance exists that makes them think they are above the legal requirement to make information disclosures.

Let us examine which policing bodies are the most frequent offenders.  Using JSON we can examine the number of requests received by each policing body and plot this with the number of requests outstanding (outstanding means the request hasn’t been answered and has gone over the 20 day answer deadline).  The size of plot represents, by body, the number of requests, which are not successful (the bigger the shape, the higher the count of unsuccessful requests).


For the sake of simplicity we have only coloured the shapes that are way above the blue  ‘expected’  regression line or are of interest; the remainder are grey.  The Metropolitan Police is the pink circle in the top right who  has received over 2500 requests and has 130 currently overdue.  It is below the blue line so this is in proportion to what is expected of a force of that size.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary  (blue), Dorset Police (orange), Essex Police (green), Greater Manchester Police (red), Humberside Police (lilac), Kent Police (purple) and Sussex Police (yellow) all seem to be offenders when it comes to not answering requests as they are high above the expected value and way above their peers.

Perhaps the Information Commissioner should start asking questions of these 7 police forces.

There needs to be a root and branch inquiry into the deliberate methods used by some policing authorities to undermine the FOI act. Unfortunately, the responses provided by the police officials who have responsibility for responding to requests are often quite remarkable in how creative and underhand they are at not providing information.

Below are some of the ways in which policing bodies delay and prevent the publication of information

  1.  Why respond promptly when you can reply on the 11th hour on the 20th day.
  2. Ignore the request completely.
  3. Claiming they didn’t understand the request
  4. Blatantly start counting the time allowed for a response from a date convenient to them 
  5. Wrongly declare the request requires an unreasonable allocation of resources.
  6. They decide at the beginning that they don’t want to give the information and only then seek inappropriate exemptions to justify the non-disclosure.
  7. Using one exemption to justify a refusal, then when challenged successfully, falling back on a different exemption.
  8. They provide lip service to any public interest test, and inevitably say it is not in the public interest to provide the information.
  9. Any internal review results in a foregone conclusion rubber stamp confirmation of their original refusal.  An internal review hardly ever corrects the wrong use of an exemption.
  10. Finally, they fall back on saying that they don’t have the information when they know full well they do.

Until these FOI departments understand the ethos of the Act they will carry on the abuse. We at IODPA have good reason to believe that the staff who work in the FOI offices of policing bodies are subjected to interference and pressure from senior people to refuse providing information.

Few members of the public realise that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) run a ‘Central Referral Unit’ which, perhaps understandably, requires all policing bodies to alert the Unit to requests relating to security matters, firearms, witness protection and other sensitive topics. There are three categories flagged from Low to High. Interestingly, the Unit expects to be sent a copy of requests relating to information sent to and from a policing body to a national body – and the Home Office is given as the single example of such a national body.

We know, however, that some forces run to the Unit when they have a request they don’t like and seek advice on how to prevent giving out the information requested.

Policing, by its very nature, cultivates a culture of tight lips. Small wonder then that policing bodies find it hard to come to an understanding that providing information is a legal duty. The FOI Act provides ample protection to allow policing bodies to keep information from the public which we would all accept should be kept from the public. We also fully appreciate that some requests for information are far too detailed, ask for far too much information in one go, or are just rants about some topic or other. Such time-wasters are universal. All forces get them. So why do some policing bodies have a far worse record that do others when it comes to refusals? And why are policing bodies so very much worse than the NHS in handling and responding to requests?




A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Merseyside and Avon & Somerset.  Liverpool and Bristol – the locations of 2 distinct police headquarters.  The Freedom of Information Act shines a light on how these public authorities operate.  Freedom of Information laws are important.  Of that there is no doubt.  They are important for public accountability and the equal treatment of all people under the rule of law.  They are important as an anti-corruption tool.  They are a mechanism to see the difference between how 2 police forces review their injury on duty pensioners.

Force Number of police officers Budget (millions) Area size (km²)
Avon and Somerset Constabulary 3302 248.9 4777
Merseyside Police 4516 307.3 645

Same Regulations, same decisions to be made.  Different results.

Between May 2014 and December 2015 Avon & Somerset has reviewed 16 people who left the force due to medical retirement and with an injury award.  Of the 16, shockingly only 9 have had a final decision – over a period of almost 2 years.

In a smaller time period, as discovered by a FOIA request, Merseyside has  performed 502 reviews in a single year.  Yes, you read that right.  502 in under 12 months.


1. How many former officers of your force are in receipt of an injury pension, as per regulation B4 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 or regulation 11 of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006?


The number of former officers in receipt of an injury award is 880



2. The degree of disablement of a person in receipt of an injury pension may be reassessed or ‘reviewed’ from time to time. In the period January 1st 2011 to 31st October 2015, how many reviews of degree of disablement were held?


2011 – 0

2012 – 0

2013 – 0

2014 – 0

2015 – 502



3. What was the result of these reviews?  On a year by year basis, please express this as the total number of pensions increased, pensions decreased, or no amendment of pension paid.


477 – No Change   

  25 – Reduced  

    0 – Increased



4. On a year by year basis, how many notices of appeal to a Police Medical Appeal Board have been made in regard to injury pensions?




4 Notices of appeal , 3 withdrawn prior to appeal


Due to the low number of appeals no further breakdown will be supplied as this will engage S40 (2) Freedom of Information 2000 – Personal Information, this information could identify individuals concerned.


At the moment IODPA will stay neutral on the 25 that were reduced.  We will reaffirm our view that provision to hold reviews of degree of disablement – at appropriate intervals – is a sensible and necessary provision of the Regulations.  Whether or not the interval was appropriate for all 502 individuals in a single year is a moot point.

But how can one force finalise 502 and another finalise 9.  The answer is straightforward – Merseyside has apparently ‘considered whether the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has altered’ and to do this they have performed a paper-sift.

The Regulations do not allow for a full and fresh assessment to discover alteration.  It is enough to consider whether alteration exists, and end there if necessary, before going further and asking the medical questions of the extent of the change of degree of disablement and whether the change is substantial.

This is where Avon & Somerset have erred in Law – Bulpitt and his cronies  think that consideration is a full fresh assessment and that is why only 9 have decisions.  It takes a long time to revisit causation and perform an unlawful fresh calculation.  Erroneously and shamefully blaming the IOD for the delay because you’ve wrongly and without authority demanded medical records from birth doesn’t half make time fly.  Unsurprisingly, it takes much longer to deal with the appeals.

Conversely Merseyside has whizzed  through their IODs, for good or bad, because they have not forced all 502 in front of a selected medical practitioner.  They have considered whether it is appropriate before jumping in and committing themselves and the unfortunate IOD to the odious possibility of reliving all the facts of the injury and subsequent life since the last final decision.



The Denial of Information Act

The Denial of Information Act

It seems that Avon & Somerset Constabulary thinks that suspicion of wrong doing by a public body is not in the public interest and therefore any request on the topic of Injury on duty awards is vexatious.  Surprisingly that there has been disclosure up until now but now the questions are getting uncomfortable for them they no longer want answer any … something to hide perhaps?

It seems others are being thwarted by the doors being closure on the Freedom of Information Act.

Is an FOI request from an investigative journalist ever vexatious?

Last week, in the Court of Appeal, the indefatigable, if rather hyperbolic, Mr Dransfield was trying to convince three judges that his request, made long ago, to Devon County Council, for information on Lightning Protection System test results relating to a pedestrian bridge at Exeter Chiefs Rugby Ground, was not vexatious.

Here is what Avon & Somerset Police are saying upon refusing a request on the subject of IODs:

Your requests for information have been considered and I am now informing
you that for the following reasons the Constabulary is not obliged to
supply the information you have requested and will therefore not be
providing the information requested on this occasion.

The Constabulary is obliged under Section 17(5) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, when refusing to provide the information requested
to provide you with written confirmation (referred to as a “Notice” under
the Act) to explain that the request(s) have been refused and which
exemptions have been applied and why. This letter constitutes that
“Notice” and will in due course explain the reasons for refusal on this

The Constabulary will not be providing the information requested, as your
requests are deemed vexatious by virtue of Section 14(1). Section 14(1) of
the Freedom of Information Act states: Section 1(1) does not oblige a
public authority to comply with a request for information if the request
is vexatious. The term ‘vexatious’ is not defined in the Act, but guidance
from the Information Commissioner outlines this as requests which cause an
undue burden and can be viewed as either obsessive, harassing to the
public authority or its staff, designed to cause disruption or annoyance
or is lacking any serious purpose or value.
For your information, the Information Commissioner has published guidance
with examples, concerning vexatious requests and I would suggest the below
as a useful reference should you wish to read more on this subject


It is important in such matters to consider the wider picture.  Deciding
whether a request is vexatious is a balancing exercise, taking into
account the context and history of the requests. The key question is
whether the request is likely to cause distress, or disruption, without
any proper or justified cause.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary as you know, has commenced reviewing injury
on duty pensions.  These reviews have caused a great deal of concern
amongst those former officers currently receiving an injury on duty
pension, as this has the potential to affect their income.  Initially 16
former officers are due to be reviewed and after that it will be a rolling
programme of reviews.

These reviews have generated a great deal of interest from numerous
individuals.  Nearly all of these, like yours, have been generated via the
Whatdotheyknow website. The Constabulary has formed the opinion that the
flood of emails is a deliberate and orchestrated campaign against the
Force. Your request is one of 118 requests currently being processed by
the Constabulary. In total the Constabulary has received 189 such
requests, totalling 492 questions.

To date the Constabulary has been responding to requests of this nature.
However it is apparent each response is generating further questions, the
requests are all similar in nature, with some lacking any serious purpose
or value other than to overwhelm or harass the Constabulary.  In addition
to this a small number of other questions have also been posed by the same
individuals concerning seemingly un-associated subjects such as the
Freedom of Information process.  These are also considered to form part of
a campaign against the Force to cause disruption as the individuals
history only extends otherwise to IOD related questions in the recent

We are experiencing significantly high volumes of requests at this time,
and even so these requests alone make up 49% of our current volume. This
has put a significant burden on the Constabulary. As you know there is a
legislative requirement to respond to requests within 20 working days. In
order to respond to these requests would adversely affect our ability to
meet the legal requirements for the other requests we are currently
dealing with.

The application of this exemption, under the terms of the Act is designed
to protect forces from requestors that abuse freedom of information in an
attempt to disrupt or impact on the delivery of public functions.  It is
the Constabulary’s opinion that the volume and frequency of these requests
show a clear intention to deliberately disrupt the Constabulary, imposing
a significant burden. These requests have become obsessive in nature.  Any
reasonable person would regard the volume and frequency of these requests
as harassing the authority, irrespective of whether that was personally
your intention.

There is a public interest in the public being assured that the force is
spending its funding wisely.  The Constabulary and the Police Crime
Commissioner each have a Chief Financial Officer who has a statutory role
under section 151 of the local government act 1972 Act that requires them
to have a fiduciary duty to local taxpayers to ensure that monies are used
efficiently and effectively.

The application of this exemption will not disadvantage those going
through the review process as they are able to direct any questions they
may have to the appropriate individuals. In addition there is information
already in the public domain concerning these reviews.

The most common theme of the Injury on Duty pensions requests received by
the Force are associated with the members of staff and independent Doctor
involved in the review process, for example requesting all email, written,
correspondence, diary appointments, qualifications of those individuals,
and in most cases, once the information is provided, numerous questions
about those disclosures are received from the same group of individuals,
similar or identical in wording. This information serves no public
interest, and is viewed that its only purpose is to disrupt the
Constabulary adversely affecting our ability to deliver public functions.
Our figures show a steady increase of these requests, and as the reviews
continue, there does not appear to be an end point. Although the Avon and
Somerset Constabulary is a relatively large organisation the size of the
organisation is not a reliable indicator of capacity in relation to
Freedom of Information. The requests are about a single topic which is
dealt with by a relatively small part of the organisation ie Human
Resources and Occupational Health. It is not a practical resolution for
these areas to be resourced to assist with the requests. In addition
occupational health files are confidential and only accessible by staff
from the unit – staff not connected with the unit cannot be given access
to them due to patient confidentiality. In some cases these are the files
that need or be accesses to provide the FOI responses.  Capacity is
therefore limited and cannot be expanded.

The ability of both HR and Occupational Health to perform their business
tasks has been undermined to the extent that service delivery has been
adversely affected.

As described above these requests have caused a disproportionate and
unjustified level of disruption, in that we will no longer be able to
respond to our other freedom of information requests within the
legislative timeframe. In addition the services provided by our Human
Resources department, Occupational Health, and Force Medical Advisor had
been inhibited as a result.  This most certainly is not in the public

As we believe that the vexatious criteria are met in this case, we will
not be responding to this or any further similar requests.  As per section
17(6) further refusal notices will not be issued.

Yours sincerely

C Quartey

Freedom of Information Officer

Corporate Information Management Department