Whilst I'm aware that your general wider-office telephone numbers are 01642 301653 and 01642 301623 (as posted on your website) could you please advise of the direct telephone number to your own working desk at the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland. If you also have a mobile phone, paid for through the budgets of the OPCC and used in your day to day business as PCC for Cleveland, could you also provide the telephone number for this also.
This request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ( the Act)
Regarding your request I can now inform you that I have completed my enquiries and that my reply on behalf of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland is as follows.
I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland does hold this information.
However, I am refusing your request on the basis that I consider it to be vexatious within the meaning of section 14 of the Act.
The guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office in relation to section 14 makes it plain that I can consider the context of the application and the history of previous applications which you have made to this office.
As you are very well aware, your history of contact with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland has led to the putting in place of a protocol which seeks to regulate the manner in which you should communicate with this office, the latest letter being on 19th January 2017 from the Commissioner’s legal advisor. It has been necessary to impose these restrictions because the frequency and nature of your telephone calls, and the manner in which certain of them were recorded, edited and then published, was considered to be inappropriate, unreasonable and to have on occasions caused distress and alarm to members of staff.
You have been supplied with a mechanism for contacting this office and for having matters referred to the Police and Crime Commissioner. It is in any event part of the administrative routine in this office that telephone calls are answered in the first instance by members of the Commissioner’s staff and not the Commissioner himself. I do not consider that there is any prejudice to you in not having the means of making direct contact with the Commissioner, and I believe that if you did, there is reason to believe on the basis of your history of contact with this office, that this would be likely to cause a disproportionate and unjustified level of disruption, irritation, and distress.
This is the rationale behind my decision to refuse your request by reference to section 14 of the Act.
Request for review
I have only ever contacted the OPCC with concerns about policing within the Cleveland Police area of jurisdiction; well within the remit of the PCC to respond to and reasonable for me to do so as a concerned member of the public living in the said area of jurisdiction.
In regards to this 'protocol' you speak of I first must put you in your place and state that it is ridiculous and not legally binding. I have every right to contact the OPCC via any means of communication given privy to any other member of the public and as your website offers members of the public your telephone numbers to use I too have every right to utilise them in the same manner.
I understand that the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland feels terribly uncomfortable being asked difficult questions by those of the electorate to which he serves, but it is part and parcel of his role I'm afraid. If I wish to discuss with him evidence of illegal activity in the Executive Office of the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police I have every right to do so without being closed down and fobbed off as being a 'vexatious' person.
And considering your silly protocol attempts to impose upon me that I only contact your office in writing, and that this entire FOI request has been issued to you in...WRITING...don't you feel a complete clown using said protocol to refuse me the information that I seek and am legally entitled to? I wrote to your organisation as is expected
And please also note that the relevant legislation in this matter clearly dictates that my FOI request must be sent to the public organisation to which holds the sought information. As I'm requesting information regarding the PCC I could only send my request to the OPCC, nowhere else.
And I request that you retract your accusations or matters will be taken further.
Response to review
I write in response to your email of 19 July last to my colleague [redacted information], in which you seek an internal review of his decision to refuse the request for information made by you under the above reference number.
Your original request was addressed to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and read as follows:
“Whilst I am aware that your general wider-office telephone numbers are 01642 301653 and (01642) 301623 (as posted on your website) could you please advise of the direct telephone number to your own working desk at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland. If you also have a mobile phone, paid for through the budgets of the OPCC and used in your day-to-day business as PCC for Cleveland, could you also provide the telephone number for this also”
[Redacted information] refused your request on the basis that he considered it to be vexatious within the meaning of section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
May I apologise to you for the delay in my being able to deal with your request for an internal review of [redacted information]'s decision.
I have now had the opportunity of considering both [redacted information]'s letter of 14 July 2017 and your email in response to date of 19 July 2017.
Essentially, the question which I have had to consider is whether it is appropriate for [redacted information] to categorise your request as being vexatious, thereby enabling refusal of your request pursuant to section 14 of the 2000.
In determining whether your request should be seen as vexatious, I have reminded myself that the guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office ( the “ICO”) indicates that section 14 is concerned with the nature of the request rather than the consequences of releasing the requested information.
In considering the nature of your request, it is entirely justifiable (again according to the guidance issued by the ICO) to consider the context of your application. My clear view is that [redacted information] was entitled to consider as part of the context of your application, the history of your telephone contact with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland (“ OPCC”). [Redacted information] indicated to you that there was a history of your telephoning the OPCC, recording those calls, editing them, and then publishing the resultant material, thereby on occasions causing distress and alarm to members of staff. I note that in your response of 19 July last you do not take issue with these assertions.
As a result of the history of your contact with the OPCC, restrictions have been placed on the means by which you should seek to make further contact, and this involves your doing so in writing rather than by telephone. I note that this restriction does not appear to limit your ability to pass on information of concern which you feel you ought to bring to the attention of the Commissioner. In other words, the restriction does not affect your freedom to contact the Commissioner, nor the content of your communication to him, but merely the means by which such communication is effected.
I believe you are well aware of the restriction which the OPCC has considered it necessary to impose upon your means of communication with this office. You must therefore be aware that in seeking to obtain the desk telephone number of the Commissioner and any relevant mobile telephone number used by the Commissioner, and thereafter utilising them, you would be seeking to circumvent the restrictions which it has been necessary to place upon your contact with the office.
Accordingly I conclude that your application was a manifestly unjustified and inappropriate use the formal procedures provided within the 2000 Act, and that it is vexatious within the meaning of section 14 of the 2000 Act.
If you are dissatisfied with this response then you do have a right of complaint under section 50 of the 2000 Act to the Information Commissioner’s Office, whose address is Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.