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Incidents reported to the MPS (2022)

Request

Please provide a log of all incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police by the Parliamentary Security Department since February 2022, including the date, location and a description of the incident.

 

Response

In the first instance please note that, whilst the House of Commons and House of Lords are two separate public authorities for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)/EIRs, prior to February 2022 it was not possible to fully disaggregate these incident logs by House as they were not categorised in a way which allowed us to do so. From February 2022 however, these logs now specify whether incidents relate to the House of Commons or House of Lords, and our response therefore only covers recorded information relating to the House of Commons. If you wish to request information relating to the House of Lords, you should contact them directly at FOILORDS@parliament.uk.

This information is held by the House of Commons. The House holds

Please note that some information within this file has been withheld in accordance with section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), and as well as sections 24, 31 and 38 FOIA. Details of these exemptions are provided below.


Section 40 – Personal information
Some cells in the spreadsheet attached contain the personal data of individuals, including names and contact details. This information has been withheld in accordance with section 40(2) FOIA, as the disclosure of this information would not be consistent with the data protection principle found in Article 5.1(a) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Section 24 – National security

Additionally, some parts of the incident log contain specific details of our security measures in public and non-public areas of the parliamentary estate. We have concluded that withholding this information is necessary for the purpose of safeguarding national security. This information is therefore exempt by virtue of Section 24 FOIA. This is a qualified exemption and the public interest test applies.

We have considered the public interest in disclosing this information. The House of Commons is a vital part of UK politics and interacts on a daily basis with a number of important institutions, including the UK Government. Members of HM Government, including the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and junior ministers, as well as non-political civil servants that work in government departments routinely visit and/or work on the parliamentary estate. There is a public interest in the public being reassured that the House of Commons has appropriate security systems and procedures in place to ensure the safety of those individuals. We also recognise that these procedures and systems were financed from the public purse, so it is in the public interest to be able to scrutinise these systems to ensure that it is sensible and fit for purpose.

However, we have also considered the public interest in withholding this information. The ICO has stated on the guidance pages of their website that the “protection of democracy” as well as the “legal and constitutional systems of the state” are a part of national security.

Parliament continues to remain under threat from malicious groups and fixated individuals looking to target the estate, who may look to do so in a number of ways and for a number of different motivations, including targeting specific areas of the estate for terroristic attacks, targeting specific individuals in order to advance a political or personal agenda or cause harm, disrupting core parliamentary processes related to legislation, stealing confidential information for personal gain or ransom, and numerous others. To counteract these threats, security measures are in place on the estate specifically to deter and to hinder the success of these groups, and to ensure that those who use the parliamentary estate, especially Members, are able to carry out their duties in a safe and secure manner.

Releasing the security measures listed within incident logs however would significantly undermine these security measures, and in turn affect national security. By disclosing this information, it would aid malicious groups and individuals not only in circumventing measures designed specifically to prevent their success, but would also significantly increase the risk of harm to those on the estate. In particular, their release would increase the likelihood of success of the actions listed above on the estate, in particular attacks against persons, as it would allow those groups to plan accordingly to counteract the security measures identified within these logs and increase their ability to launch a successful attack as a result. It would also allow these groups to more readily access or target specific persons and/or areas on the estate in order to cause harm, which would also be further compounded by the release of details on non-public locations, which would give them a greater insight into the details of the estate than they would possess otherwise. Ultimately, these increased security risks would likely deter both visitors and pass holders from attending the estate and would be likely to have a significantly disrupt the ability of parliament to function as a result, including disrupting legislative proceedings and other core parliamentary functions. Furthermore, this would have a knock-on effect for governmental departments also, as they would be hindered from placing bills before parliament in order to enact specific powers and laws necessary, which may also be a core aim of the groups/individuals involved. The withholding of this information is therefore necessary in order to continue safeguarding national security on the parliamentary estate, as its release would create an unsafe environment more likely to be subject to attacks by groups and fixated individuals, affecting the ability of both passholders and parliament to function as a whole, and ultimately severely disrupting and compromising the protection of democracy as a result.

For these reasons, we have concluded that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Section 31 – Law enforcement

We also consider that disclosing the same information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime and the apprehension of offenders. This information is therefore also exempt by virtue of Section 31(1)(a) and (b) FOIA. This is a qualified exemption and the public interest test applies.

We have considered the public interest in disclosing this information. Detailing incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police Service would help to show the extent to which Parliament maintains the security and safety of those on the parliamentary estate, which would naturally reassure the public at large as well as people working on or visiting the estate. It would also help to educate the public about security concerns to be aware of themselves, especially if visiting the parliamentary estate, which in turn may help in the prevention and detection of crime. Finally, as parliamentary security is financed via the public purse, there is a public interest in knowing that public funds spent on maintaining law enforcement on the estate are cost-effective, proportional and appropriate.

However, we have also considered the public interest in withholding this information. Security measures on the estate exist to prevent or deter criminal actions and the disclosure of the security measures and procedures detailed within our incident logs is likely to aid criminals to identify measures designed to detect them, in turning allowing them to plan accordingly to bypass and avoid these measures as a result. Additionally, details of any successful criminal actions that do not appear on these logs may tip off individuals as to potential vulnerabilities on the estate, which they would then be more likely to refine and exploit and, in turn, would be likely to lead in an increase in criminal actions on the estate as a result. By restricting the release of these measures, we can ensure that potential criminals are much more likely to be caught out by our security measures, and their crimes prevented in turn.

In these circumstances therefore, it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Section 38 – Health and Safety

The incident log attached also contains information about security procedures and measures designed to keep people safe on the parliamentary estate. We also consider that disclosing the same information would be likely to endanger the physical and mental health of individuals, as well as their safety, so this information is exempt by virtue of Section 38(1) (a) and (b) FOIA. This is a qualified exemption and the public interest test applies.

We have considered the public interest in disclosing this information. It is important for the public to know that those who work or visit the parliamentary estate can do safely and without fear of harm. The release of this information would reassure those looking to interact more with Parliament that their physical health won’t be at risk and that there are measures in place to protect them from harm, whether they’re visiting or attending events on the estate, and in fact looking to work on the estate itself, either in capacity as House staff, Members’ staff or possibly even as a Member themselves. It is also important for the public to know that incidents are properly logged, and that safety matters are fully followed up on and/or resolved by the Parliamentary Security Department, providing an assurance that parliament takes security and the wellbeing of those on the estate extremely seriously. The mental health of these persons may also be reassured by disclosing these logs and showing our dedication to ensuring the health of those on the estate, making them more likely to want to interact with the estate also. Lastly, as health and safety measures on the estate are publicly funded, and there is also a public interest in showing measures that these methods are not only effective and appropriate but are cost-effective also.

However, we have also considered the public interest in withholding this information. Parliament has a duty to ensure that the physical and mental wellbeing of those who access the estate, including visitors and passholders. It has a duty to ensure the safety of those individuals, and this also extends to the release of any information which may compromise this safety. A safe and secure environment is a fundamental need for those on the estate to ensure they can carry out their work without threat or fear of violence, and the release of this information would endanger the safety of those on the estate as it would malicious groups/individuals to bypass security measures designed to protect them, making them significantly more likely to be subject to harm as a result. In particular, information on the location of specific individuals on the estate would further increase the likelihood of them being subject to harm, severely endangering their safety as a result. Furthermore, this release of this information would also significantly harm the mental wellbeing of those who use the estate. It would create a greater sense of unease and vulnerability for those who use the estate, which would be likely to severely impact their ability to carry out their duties as a result. This could also potentially lead to pass holders and visitors alike refusing to attend the estate out of fear for their own safety, which would in turn disrupt many of the core aspects parliamentary process. The release of security measures in our logs therefore would be very likely to endanger both the physical and mental health of individuals on the estate, as well as endangering their safety, leaving them physically more vulnerable to attacks and affecting their mental wellbeing also as a result.

In these circumstances therefore, it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.