A neighbour of a friend, who was staying in Bow, told him the police had asked him one day during the Olympics: 'have you seen one of our drones?' It seems a drone crashed somewhere in Bow! Just in case this was an urban legend I thought I would make a Freedom of Information request to check out whether any drones had been in use and if any had crashed. The Met was not exactly forthcoming and fell back on the argument that national security was at stake and any revelation would be of benefit to criminals or terrorists.
Given that we are under constant surveillance from CCTV cameras and helicopters, even more so during the Olympics in the vicinity of Stratford, I have to wonder why the use of drones should not be revealed. Informing the public that they are in use should not compromise operations as UAVs can be deployed without the knowledge of those being observed far more easily than helicopters or publicly situated cameras. To reveal the operations of drones after the event would not compromise operations at the time and may even assist in ensuring the guilty are convicted, rather than the innocent, if film of an event is available because a drone was in use. Of course this would not be possible if the presence of a drone is not revealed.
The idea that revealing the use of drones would alert criminals and terrorists to police activity in a particular area and mean 'More crime would be committed' seems pretty fanciful. Criminals and terrorists are, by their nature, likely to assume they are being watched. Knowing that drones were being deployed might even act as a deterrent and make them more cautious about perpetrating crimes. But if it really was the case that there was a particularly sensitive case where revelation would compromise an operation then plainly exceptions could be made. In the particular case of the Olympics it is hard to see any justification for refusing to reveal their use as plainly everyone knows where the Olympics were being held and that there was a massive security operation in place, so it is not going to alert any criminals or terrorists, especially as the event is now well in the past. The exception claimed by the police is not to conceal but to reveal and in the case of the Olympics makes no sense at all.
Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012100003430
I respond in connection with your request for information which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 29th October 2012. I note you seek access to the following information:
1. Did the Met Police use any drones (unmanned surveillance aircraft) during the Olympics?
2. If yes, when and where were they deployed?
3. If yes, were there any accidents involving drones?
4. Were any drones lost, did any crash?
5. If yes - where did such accidents or losses occur?
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (the Act), this response represents a Refusal Notice for this request under Section 17(1) of the Act.
The MPS can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you requested as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Act does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain security bodies.
Section 24(2) National Security.
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
REASONS FOR DECISION
Should it be held, constituents of this information would attract Section 23, other constituents 24 and other constituents attract Section 31 of the Act.
It should not be surmised that should the information be held by the MPS we would be applying Sections 23, 24 & 31 to the same pieces of information.
Please see the legal annex for the sections of the Act that are referred to in this response.
Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test
Sections 24, and 31 are prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not that the information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.
Overall harm for neither confirming nor denying that any other information is held
Any disclosure under the Act is a disclosure to the world at large, and by confirming or denying the use of this specialist equipment at certain events, would show the criminals what the capacity, tactical abilities and capabilities of the MPS are, allowing them to target specific areas of the UK to conduct their terrorist activities.
To confirm or deny that this type of police tactic has or has not been used would enable those engaged in criminal or terrorist activity to identify the focus of policing activity across the UK. This would have the likelihood of identifying location-specific operations which would ultimately compromise police tactics, operations and future prosecutions as criminals could counteract the measures used against them.
The MPS neither confirms nor denies that such tactics have been used because to state that no information is held for one event regarding UAVs, and then exempt information held in another, would itself provide acknowledgement that UAV's have been used at that second event.
Any information identifying the focus of policing activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both National Security and law enforcement.
Public safety would be put at risk if it were confirmed or denied that UAV's were known to be used or conversely, were known not to have not been used at specific events.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31
By confirming or denying when or where UAV's are used, would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.
Factors against confirmation or denial for S31
By confirming or denying the use of UAV's, law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime.
More crime would be committed and individuals would be placed at risk.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by confirming or denying whether UAV's were or are used would lead to a better-informed public
Factors against confirmation or denial for S24
By confirming or denying when, where and why UAV's are used within the MPS area would render security measures less effective. This would lead to the compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infrastructure of the UK and increase the risk of harm to the public.
The security of the country is of paramount importance and the MPS will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would place the safety of the public at risk or undermine National Security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in this case providing assurance that the MPS is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by the criminal fraternity, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this area.
As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of national security this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances.
Therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying whether the MPS uses UAV's is not made out.
No inference can be drawn from this response as to the existence or not of any other information.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 06/11/2012 - 17:46.
According to 'sources' more ambulances were stolen during the Olympics than usual. The security services were apparently concerned this might indicate an al Qaeda attack was imminent. Why al Qaeda would want to draw attention to themselves by stealing lots of ambulances and why they would leave it to the last moment to execute these thefts is not explained.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sat, 22/09/2012 - 12:42.
Perfect casting for being hoist by his own petard. It's not everybody has their own Petard. The rich fat bastards have all the fun. That's not raw talent you know. They have the breeding you see. And the fagging. That and centuries of de Feffling about on a wet Saturday indoors with the croquet mallets.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Thu, 02/08/2012 - 22:43.
Blog | Video | Contamination | 2012 Jobs | Airways | Attractions | Compulsory Purchase | Corruption & Ethics | Crime | Cycling | Legacy | Olympics Studies | Paralympics | Protest | Security | Skills Training | Swimming
by Kevin Blowe
A number of people have asked me to clarify what impact Olympic-specific legislation may have on local people and anyone promoting protests or making political statements during this summer’s Games. Here is a short guide.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Thu, 26/07/2012 - 11:01.
So, ever so slowly, slowly, slowly it's beginning to hit the public consciousness that certain of our civil liberties will be p*ssed upon from the great on high during the Olympics. And whether it's Collapsonomics-wrought inflation, or perhaps that the Summer Games attracts a higher premium than the Winter Games in any event, but those penalties have gone up markedly!
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Mon, 19/12/2011 - 21:46.
The following was being circulated by email among rank and file police officers even before the riots.
London Olympics 2012.
London (Stratford) will be hosting the Olympic Games in 2012.
You may not know that many of the famous events, which go to make up this spectacular event, are to be altered for 2012. A copy of these changes has been leaked, and is reproduced below:
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 02/09/2011 - 02:12.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Frederick Douglas, Speech on the 24th anniversary of emancipation, Washington , DC, 1886
A local resident is interviewed by a foreign correspondent while rioting is taking place around the Pembury Estate in Hackney, East London.
At present Sheldon Thomas runs his own organization The Helping Hand Trust which works directly with gang members especially around extreme teenage violence giving intensive support, mentoring and gangs mediation...
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Wed, 17/08/2011 - 08:28.
Submitted by Richard Willmsen on Thu, 30/12/2010 - 20:48.