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Thames Valley Police refuse to answer use of spying powers...again

William Walker

William Walker


01635 886641

THAMES Valley Police has again refused to reveal whether or not they were one of the 19 police forces across the country that used controversial spying powers to identify journalists’ sources.

A Freedom of Information request was first submitted by this newspaper in February to determine if the police force had used Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The Act gives the police far-reaching powers of surveillance, such as obtaining phone records and other communications data.

An inquiry found that there were 34 investigations by 19 police forces using these powers between 2011 and 2014 in relation to suspected illicit relationships between journalists and their sources.

Thames Valley Police has yet to confirm whether or not they are one of the 19 forces.

The original request for information was refused and branded “vexatious”, a decision that was ultimately overturned by the information commissioner after Newbury Weekly News appealed.

The police force were ordered to either release the information or issue a fresh refusal within 35 calendar days.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Thames Valley Police said that it would be much too costly to answer the question, and providing an answer would exceed the appropriate 18 hours and £450 cost limit.

Refusing the request under Section 12(1) of the FOI Act, information officers said: “This information is not held in an easily retrievable format.

“Thousands of RIPA requests are conducted each year, and as our system does not enable us to extract details of whom the subject(s) are (ie a journalist) we would be required to manually review every request going back to when we first start conducting them, to determine if the information is held.

“This would clearly be an extensive task, and would exceed the appropriate 18-hour time and £450 cost limit.”

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