Thursday, November 17, 2016

Harry Wall on how and why TFL can keep from releasing sexual assault figures FOI request

We're all trying to understand how and why TFL can keep from releasing FOI requests, also the latest rape/sexual assault figures. 

I think I've tumbled it thanks to a very clued up friend of mine.

Search for FOI exemption guidance and although it's a bit of a minefield for non legal people it's not hard to find some similarities to the situation we find ourselves in with respect to TFL's refusal to answer our requests for clarity on most subjects. See the pics below and you'll see for yourself.

There are two exemptions that can stop an FOI request.
Briefly, a Qualified Exemption is applied if the information would be contrary to public interest e.g. National security.

An Absolute Exemption is applied if the information would result in an adverse effect to a firm/company's commercial interests.

I'd say TFL has used the absolute version. We all know those figures would embarrass TFL and,please God, finally educate the country as to how dangerous Uber drivers are. But it also highlights that damage could be done to a licensing authority from certain information released.

Therefore, not only is it in Uber's interests for these figures to be withheld for commercial interest reasons but TFL's interests also because of the damage to their authority that will be inflicted should these figures be released. 

What they fail to realise is that when they are released, in my view after Uber's been relicensed, not only will hundreds if not thousands more potential rapists have been licensed but a similar number of women may have been added to the rape list.

I've often said TFL are using the law to navigate their way around every obstacle that's placed in front of them and this is proof as far as I'm concerned. But to ignore the chance to protect someone's wife, sister, girlfriend or daughter from being victim of a dreadful crime like rape or sexual assault and place the "commercial interest" of Uber first. Its despicable and illustrates the state of our society today. 

Also don't forget this is part of the "Gig Economy" that the IEA's Sophie Sandor was banging on about on her video, post court ruling.

I may have read it all wrong, I'm a cab driver not a lawyer but it tells me what I've always thought which is however many legal routes we take, it really won't matter. The rats have the upper hand and they'll use the laws they've created, complete with carefully placed loopholes, to win through regardless. 

Even if it means ignoring rape. 

Money is king, especially in the hands of the establishment and they don't care where or how it reaches their grubby little hands so long as it gets there. 

And don't forget the dogs who help them along the way. The lawyers who facilitate the wrangling around those loopholes treading on the rape victims as they escalate there own career without a second thought except for what chambers they'll be in five years from now.

I know I keep banging on about this but we must mobilise in a way never seen before. 
Time in running out and so is our window of opportunity, we MUST act now! 

Bridges, pinch-points, airports, all must be subject to demo on a regular basis starting now. 

I know Christmas is looming but worry about next Christmas, and the following ones. Or better still, worry about the wives, girlfriends and daughters whose Christmas will be ruined by a rapist in a minicab this year, and next year. 

If I'd known about these exemptions earlier I'd have mentioned it on London Taxi Radio as Jamie Owens kindly invited me on the show last Monday, but I had a chance to air my views and if I'm invited on again I'll certainly bring it up.

Please don't think about next week, think about next year.
The clocks ticking.
Be lucky. 


Anonymous said...

If a Public body fails to reply to an FOI a formal complaint can be filed to the Information Commissionr who can force information to be released.
This was done previously when a reporter filed an FOI for Johnson to publish his diary which he is required to do. Johnson refused be because he was trying to hide meetings he had with Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks. The Information Commissioner forced him to publish it.

Anonymous said...

why not put posters up around london stating there has been 10,000 rapes and sexual assults in phv [including uber] vehicles,could this allegation force tfl into denying it and having to release the true figures?

Anonymous said...

Would be very helpful to publish MAYOR Khans diary, so we could meet and greet wherever he turned up for a photo call.

lee ward said...

Why not ask for the total amount of rapes and sexual assaults in London, and how many of those did not involve minicab or private hire drivers.

It still gives you a quotable figure.

Gerry O'Leary said...

Here is what TfL had to say in reply to a recent request from P T Madden which
asked for "the latest figures of sexual assaults in private hire cars in 2016."

"TfL has worked with the MPS and City of London Police to collate figures
for the total number of recorded taxi and private hire-related sexual
offences committed by licensed or unlicensed taxi or private hire drivers
for the last 12 years. In addition, for 2014 and 2015 TfL will provide
information on the number of drivers charged with a sexual offence,
whether they were licensed as a taxi or private hire driver at the time of
the offence, and for private hire journeys whether the journey was booked
via a licensed operator, and the outcome at court.

The data and information had to be cross referenced and verified which has
taken longer than expected, however TfL will be publishing finalised data

In refusing to supply the information requested, TfL claimed an exemption under section 22 of the FOI Act which says that the information is exempt if it "is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not)"

So, TfL has confirmed that it possesses the information, at least for the 12 years up to 2015, and it has said that it "will be publishing finalised data shortly."
It doesn't say when the data will be published (it doesn't have to) and I think it will be worthwhile to keep a close lookout for its publication.

In the meantime, the way to keep up the pressure would be to ask TfL for an internal review of the request on the ground that no clear indication is given about when the information will be published. If the review is unsatisfactory, a complaint can then be made to the Information Commissioner's Office.

In my experience, the ICO can be relied upon to require the release of the information quickly unless there is a very good reason for the delay.