In accordance with section 1(1) (a) of the Act our
response is provided below;
I can confirm that the Cheshire Constabulary holds a
copy of the fire investigation report as supplied by Cheshire Fire
and Rescue Service. The report was provided following a joint
investigation into the fire at Greenalls and forms part of the
criminal investigation file.
A copy of the investigation file was requested by one
of your colleagues in 2008 and on that occasion we refused to
supply the information. I have now considered your narrower request
and again I have to inform you that I am not obliged to supply the
Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
requires the Cheshire Constabulary, when refusing to provide such
information (because the information is exempt) to provide you with
a notice which a) states that fact, b) specifies the exemption in
question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent)
why the exemption applies.
The information is exempt by virtue of
Section 30 (1) (c) & (2) (a) (ii) Investigations
and Proceedings Conducted by Public Authorities.
Section 30 (1) (c) relates to information which has at
any time been held by the Authority for the purposes of: Any
criminal proceedings, which the authority has the power to
Section 30 (2) (a) (ii) relates to information in
connection with criminal proceedings obtained from a confidential
source. This in particular relates to the fire report which is
provided in confidence by the Fire Service.
With the application of Section 30 comes a requirement
to consider the public interest test:
Factors which would favour disclosure are the general
arguments in favour of promoting transparency, accountability and
participation. Disclosure may assist in general debates around law
enforcement and investigations of crime.
Factors favouring non-disclosure centre around the
specific circumstances of the case and the content of the
information requested, In weighing the prejudice to the
investigatory and prosecution processes of the public authority we
take account the general recognition that it is in the public
interest to safeguard those processes. The right of access should
not undermine the investigation and prosecution processes nor in
any way dissuade individuals from coming forward to assist in such
The protection of witnesses and others supplying
information is an overriding principle recognised by the courts to
ensure that people are not deterred from making statements or
reports by the fear that they may be publicised.
Although some four and half years have elapsed since
the event the investigation cannot be closed. One person has
appeared before the courts in connection with this fire but the
case was not concluded. The evidence has not been tested in the
courts. It is not in the public interest to undermine a prosecution
process and the role of the criminal courts.
In all the circumstances of the case the public
interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest