Sexual Harrassment Complaints by Staff

Reference: 17017

Date Added: Monday, November 27, 2017

Category: Complaints

Disclosure Details

Question

 

Can I ask for the following information for over the last three calendar years?

1. How many sexual harassment complaints have been made by staff?
2. How many sexual harassment complaints have been made against senior officers? What were the claims?
3. How many sexual harassment complaints were upheld? What were the sanctions?
4. How many sexual harassment complaints were dismissed?
5. What training does the force offer to reduce sexual harassment complaints?

 

Answer

 

In relation to questions 1-4, I can neither confirm nor deny whether the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent (OPCC) holds the information you have requested as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Section 40(2) Personal Information

Section 40(2) is an absolute and class based exemption and so requires no harm or public interest test to be undertaken.

Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption which means the evidence of harm ‘prejudice’ needs to be evidenced and the public interest considered to ensure neither confirming nor denying information is held is appropriate.

Harm
Any release under the Freedom of Information Act is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request. To confirm or deny that information is held in relation to questions 1-4 may discourage individuals from making complaints in fear they may be publically identified. The Gwent OPCC only has a small number of staff, therefore a confirmation or denial of this information would relate to a small number of individuals. In addition, the partnership approach between the OPCC and law enforcement agencies may also be compromised which may in turn influence the police forces ability to prevent and detect any crime that has been committed.

The OPCC has also considered the public interest in this case:
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31 – there would be a high public interest in knowing whether or not senior members of staff of the OPCC had received complaints against them in relation to sexual harassment, especially in light of the current public interest in this area due to recent allegations made worldwide that have been published via the press. The OPCC is a publically funded body and the public would want to know if there were allegations made against anyone within this organisation.

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31 - by confirming or denying that any information relevant to the request exists, law enforcement tactics could be compromised which could hinder the prevention and detection of crime. Also due to the number of people working within the OPCC, any release of this information would make identification of the complainant and the person making the complaint much easier which in turn breaches the protections afforded to them by the Data Protection Act 1998.

Balance test
Transparency to the public is of the utmost importance to the OPCC and whilst there is a public interest into the activities of the organisation and those who are employed by it, there is also a strong public interest in ensuring any criminal investigations into matters such as these are protected. Due to the size of the organisation, releasing this information could identify any person making a complaint and could also deter these matters from being reported in the future.

Whilst the OPCC understands there is a public interest in the organisation, it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying whether any other information relevant to your request exists is not made out.

None of the above can be viewed as an inference that any other information does or does not exist.

Please find a response below to question 5:

For the purposes of my response I have taken your reference to the ‘force’ to mean the OPCC. No specific training is given to staff members in relation to sexual harassment complaints. Any permanent member of staff would be given an induction programme which would cover areas such as the Code of Ethics, Dignity at Work and the Staff Code of Conduct which can be found on our website

www.gwent.pcc.police.uk/transparency/publications/staff-code-of-conduct/