The Metropolitan Police has rejected Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine’s request for information about the number of people it stops under anti-terrorism laws after being seen taking photographs.
The magazine had sought figures on the number of people stopped under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, specifically relating to photography.
The request, made under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, followed widespread concern that officers routinely abuse powers handed to them under the legislation.
However, it seems such information is not recorded on the Met’s database.
In a letter to AP, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said. ‘This is to inform you that it will not be possible to respond to your request within the cost threshold.
‘This would require the MPS to search every search/arrest record to identify cases containing the information you require.
‘With an average of 42,000 stops per month in 2008, and with each search taking between one and two minutes, we estimate the cost of complying with this request would exceed the appropriate limit.’
The Met states that the appropriate cost limit is £450. ‘This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 hours [at a rate of £25 per hour] in determining whether the MPS holds the information and locating, retrieving and extracting the information.’
The force told AP that it is not obliged to comply with FOI requests if it estimates that the cost would ‘exceed the appropriate limit’.