National Crime Agency : No Freedom of Information Here

Before the election, the Conservatives promised to ‘extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act’ and the Prime Minister was absolutely right when he said that sunlight was “the best disinfectant”.

But as with the DNA Database (samples retained rather than destroyed), local authority powers of entry (2 year review rather than needing a warrant) the Draft Communications Data Bill (from reversing the surveillance state to resurrecting Labour’s biggest surveillance proposal) the Home Office has decided to pursue the alternative course of action. Well, we say alternative, we mean a 180-degree change of course.

Today we learn from the Yorkshire Post that the Home Office plans to exempt the new National Crime Agency from Freedom of Information Law.

There are already countless grounds (from it taking too long to find the information to national security) for organisations to refuse to disclose information.

Freedom of Information would not prevent intelligence sharing, protecting sources of information or expose police tactics and technology – indeed, every police force in the country and the Association of Chief Police Officers all manage to operate with FOI applying to them.

For a Government supposedly committed to transparency, this is a calculated move that would shut the public out of holding the country’s most senior policing officials to account.

At a time when the Home Office wants to give these officers access to details of who we email, call and send postcards to, it is remarkable to be proposing they should be able to do so behind a cloak of secrecy.



  1. Secret Police: Legislation Gives Power to Reject FOIs - Guy Fawkes' blog
    26th June 2012

    […] Agency will refuse to answer questions from the public on spending and non-operational activities. Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles told the paper: “For a Government supposedly committed to transparency, […]

  2. Solomon Hughes
    26th June 2012

    By contrast, Special Branch are not exempt from FOIA : When the original legislation was drawn up , Special Branch were omitted. Up until a few years back Met Police Special Branch were actually pretty open about what they released, to me and others , although they have become much more obstructive/restrictive in the past couple of years. It shows how exempting the National Crime Agency from FOIA is an adminsitrative convenience not an operational necessity: If the secretive, sometimes terrorism oriented Special Branch is subject to FOIA, but the National Crime Agency is exempt