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Another lie, yet another coverup - Dorset and Devon & Cornwall Police (Richard Scott)

Not long ago (after the massive case of lies and coverup by Martyn Underhill, etc) we saw another lie from Sam de Reya, Assistant Chief Constable, Dorset Police, suggesting an achievement of a 20% road death and serious injury reduction by the "partnership". As everyone should know by now (particularly the Chair of Dorset Road "Safe", SdR), there has been no such reduction and even if there had been, it would have resulted from much more than just what the police did.

I raised an FOI request asking to see the data and analysis on which that statement was made. This has been refused on the grounds that it is "vexatious". I will now demonstrate that it is not vexatious, but that this is yet another case of the police abusing the FOI system to protect lies.

As Richard Scott has chosen to revisit the past, I must too. Actually, thanks Richard, it is good to have a refresher on this:

Very briefly, going back to about 2013, Dorset Police covered up lies about a camera that was one of the most lucrative in the country, installed under the deception of casualty reduction  at a location where there was no casualty.  When I exposed that, they changed the deception to "community concern" and then promptly failed to provide any evidence of it. One of the other lies was on the "dispelling myths" page of the Dorset Road "Safe" website which said that there was no financial motivation for the police to use speed cameras. I asked by FOI where all the money went and what followed was probably the worst of all the behaviour I have seen driven primarily of course by the one person entrusted with the totality of policing, PCC Martyn Underhill.

Essentially it seems they did not want to have to admit that indeed a great deal of money from speed cameras did go to Dorset Police - a deception seen again just recently from Simon Bullock, Chief Exec to Martyn Underhill.

The FOI request was met by an obvious attempt to make the problem go away by ignoring, delaying, saying it would be too expensive, etc, Naturally the only figures that eventually came back were lies too, as anyone with the slightest common sense could tell.

And I was not alone in identifying the dishonesty.

At the same time a complaint was progressing and the (briefly) Independent Investigator actually said "What you would like is a proper, honest, breakdown of costing in relation to (the course) so that there is honesty around the awareness course ..... I've seen your email correspondence and your challenge of the figures and I can see why you're challenging the figures, they don't stack up" recording . He (Colin Smith, Head of Professional Standards, Hampshire Police) then went quiet, delayed for a year, wrote there was nothing wrong, "retired" and vanished before Underhill even let me see the report and question it! Naturally, the complaint that resulted was covered up by Hampshire Police and the IPCC


Annette Brooke (then MP) also new things were not right But when she asked questions, she was shut down just like I was! 

So a Head of Professional standards was corrupted and even an MP couldn't get any transparency. What chance did I, a normal member of the public have?

All I could do was to continue to try to get transparency about the claimed cost. Only then, a whole year after my enquiry had started, when everything else had failed, did Dorset Police do the only thing they could to shut this down. They used the "vexatious" excuse to refuse to respond further.

At this point the problem was becoming too big to fail, and step by step, Dorset Police further escalated the coverup by pulling in the then IPCC, ICO, tribunal and even the Judicial Ombudsman.

There could not be a more deserving and appropriate use of FOI to get to the truth and break all this corruption down but of course Dorset Police and all the others protected each other. Follow the link just above, you will find all the evidence and proof and so much more.

So the problem the police and all the others have now with this astonishing investment in corruption, protection and coverup is that the moment I make some kind of success, the whole lot could come crashing down - and that goes back far before Martyn Underhill's shocking involvement in Dorset Police.

But, as Dorset Police refuses to listen, learn and improve, they keep putting their foot in it over and over again, as Sam de Reya did. When I asked for the detail behind her careless statement, the police had 2 options:

1. Admit that the statement was an error, provide a public apology and correction, improve standards and actually make some attempt to stop lying to the public, or

2. Coverup the error, leave the misrepresentation in place, ignore the problem, fail to improve, and abuse the system to prevent accountability / scrutiny.

Obviously, again they chose option 2. It seems that Devon and Cornwall now deal with FOI for Dorset, and I can now report that another classic coverup has resulted, not quite on the scale of the previous but an excellent example nonetheless.

In the light of the above it should be no surprise that the first line of defence is to throw any request from me about road safety out for being vexatious just because that was what worked to get them out of trouble over 6 years ago, even though the rules (actually the law) state that they simply cannot, and that is what Devon and Cornwall have done again now:

The full FOI exchange so far can be seen here (WhatDoTheyKnow)

What a load of nonsense!

1. "Dorset Police can evidence that since you were made vexatious on the subject of Roads Policing, the Force has continued to answer your requests on unrelated subjects."

Answering requests on other subjects does not make it ok to refuse requests related to road safety. Section 14 does not allow refusal for requests on this or any subject to me or anyone else.  

2. "In light of the above I am confident that Dorset Police are applying Section 14 to the subject of ‘roads policing’ and not to you as the requester, because none of your requests on other topics have been refused"

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, this has been written in an FOI refusal! I will not dignify it with a response! Maybe I should reconsider that award. And the very next line:

3. "As stated in the response to your request, the original decision to make you vexatious on the subject of ‘roads policing’ was taken in 2012."

Please, is it me or the subject that you think is vexatious??!! If it is "ME", then the simple rule I have already detailed has been completely, totally ignored again. You cannot declare ME, or a subject, certainly not a combination of the 2 as vexatious!

"Application of section 14(1) 12. It is important to remember that section 14(1) can only be applied to the request itself, and not the individual who submits it. An authority cannot, therefore, refuse a request on the grounds that the requester himself is vexatious. Similarly, an authority cannot simply refuse a new request solely on the basis that it has classified previous requests from the same individual as vexatious."

And it is crystal clear that a "subject" cannot be refused either:

“You cannot refuse a request from the same requester just because it is for information on a related topic”  

4. Comments about the ICO, Tribunal, etc - I think I've covered that above.

5. "Whilst it is correct that there have been no previous FOI requests submitted on the subject of ‘roads policing’..."

Another point that makes no sense

6. "it is also clear from your own website that your correspondence with the Force and your campaign has continued since 2013..."

It is not mentioned in section 14 that a request may be refused if the requester has a website or has had other communication with the police or others.

7. "The Commissioner notes that the complainant holds definite views on road safety and the actions of the Constabulary. These views are expressed in strong and almost belligerent terms on the website www.dorsetspeed.org.uk."

I can accept "belligerent", it is not surprising after the nonsense I have had to put up with. However the Commissioner has left out the more important term "accurate".

8, "FOIA is not, however, a weapon which can be used to browbeat an authority, rather than to extract information for use in such a campaign"

I am quite certain that my perception and persistence are indeed a great nuisance to the police. This is because as should be completely clear, they are behaving extremely badly and don't want to be confronted by their wrongs. This is exactly why the FOI system / ICO should not allow itself to be abused by the police in this way. To a burglar, a blue flashing light would be "vexatious".

9. "As we can evidence that the website, which is considered evidence of being vexatious ..."

Again, it is not mentioned in section 14 that a request may be refused if the requester has a website or has had other communication with the police or others. And I will point out that for the entire life of that website, not one point I have ever made has been faced, answered or challenged by anyone. Troubling it may be, inaccurate it is not.

10. " ...continues be used to campaign on the subject of ‘roads policing’ to the current day we conclude that a reasonable period of time has not yet passed."

The time mentioned in section 14 is between FOI requests for the same information. Not other communications and not for different information. And I should not need to point out that the information requested, to back up statements made by Sam de Reya in 2020, did not exist and could therefore not have been requested in 2013!

11. "It is my understanding that you had already declared that the statement from ACC De Raya was “vague misleading nonsense” and “misinformation” before your request was answered by the Freedom of Information Unit"

Again, it is not mentioned in section 14 that a request may be refused if the requester has a website or has had other communication with the police or others.

So, there we have it, a total demolition of the nonsense from Richard Scott at Devon and Cornwall Police who is clearly trying to protect the lies of Sam de Reya, Chair of Dorset Road "Safe", or perhaps more likely, was instructed to do so. Perhaps he was unaware of how much more he was protecting. It is a pack of "excuses" that make those that the police keep producing from drivers look like nothing, a total hypocrisy. There is not one point of any merit whatsoever anywhere. There is nothing in my simple request which is frivolous, in bad faith or without good grounds, purpose and public interest.

It will be interesting to see if the ICO, Tribunal, Judicial Ombudsman, etc etc will again jump into this hole (more like a chasm) and keep digging.




Ian Belchamber