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Request for information about CCTV contracts at the UK Supreme Court

Request for information about CCTV contracts at the UK Supreme Court

Request received on 13 June 2022

Please could you provide the name of the supplier(s) who provides CCTV systems to your department as well as the brand and total number of cameras included. Please also state the length of the contract with any such supplier(s) and the annual cost of the contract.

Response sent on 13 June 2022

Your requests have been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The UKSC can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any information relating to your request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 31(3) provides an exemption from the duty to confirm or deny whether information is held.

Section 38(2) provides an exemption from disclosing information if it would endanger any individual (including the applicant, the supplier of the information, or anyone else).

Summaries of these exemptions are included at the end of this letter, for your ease of reference.

Sections 31(3) and 38(2) are a qualified prejudice based exemptions and require a public interest test to be carried out before they can be relied upon. These tests are outlined below.

Public Interest Tests
Factors favouring Confirming or Denying for Section 31(3)

Confirming or denying information relating to the supplier(s) of CCTV systems to the UKSC, the brand and total number of cameras, the length of the contract with any such supplier(s), and the annual cost of the contract, would provide an insight into the UKSC. This would enable the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s security and surveillance operations. Where public funds are being spent, there is a public interest in accountability and justifying the use of public money.

Factors against Confirming or Denying for Section 31(3)

Confirming or denying that any other information is held regarding the UKSC’s CCTV systems – the supplier, brand, total number of cameras, contract length, annual costs – would have the effect of compromising the safety of Justices, UKSC staff, and court visitors at risk and could, potentially, be used to prevent the system recording any incidents in or around the Court building.

To reveal the numbers, make of camera and the fact that the system is supported by software would make UKSC systems vulnerable to attack and prejudice the safety of anyone in the building. This would compromise law enforcement tactics and would also hinder evidence should it be needed for future investigations.

By confirming or denying whether any information is held in relation to the use of CCTV products would hinder the prevention or detection of crime.

The UKSC would not wish to reveal what tactics may or may not have been used to gain intelligence as this would clearly undermine the law enforcement and investigative process. This would impact on Court and police resources and more crime would be committed, placing individuals at risk.

It can be argued that there are significant risks associated with providing information, if held. Confirming or denying that any information is held, may reveal the relative vulnerability of what we may be trying to protect.

Factors favouring Confirming or Denying for Section 38(2)

Confirming or denying whether any information is held would not actually harm it. The public are entitled to know what public funds are spent on and what security and surveillance measures are in place at the UKCS. By confirming or denying information regarding the UKSC’s CCTV systems – the supplier, brand, total number of cameras, contract length, annual costs – it would lead to a better-informed public.

Factors favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying for Section 38(2)

By confirming or denying whether any other information is held would render the UKSC’s security measures less effective. To release the information could put the safety of Justices, UKSC staff, and court visitors at risk and could, potentially, be used to prevent the system recording any incidents in or around the Court building.

To reveal the numbers, make of camera and the fact that the system is supported by software would make UKSC systems vulnerable to attack and prejudice the safety of anyone in the building. This would lead to the compromise of the UKSC’s operations and increase the risk of physical harm to Justices, UKSC staff, and court visitors.

To do so would likely have a detrimental effect, through endangerment, on the Court and individuals. There is a causal link between endangerment to Justices, UKSC staff, and court visitors and disclosure of the information.

Balance test

Overall harm in confirming or denying whether the information requested is held.

Any disclosure under FOI is a release to the public at large.

Confirming or denying that information is held regarding the UKSC’s CCTV would have the effect of compromising the safety and security of Justices, UKSC staff, and court visitors at risk and could, potentially, be used to prevent the system recording any incidents in or around the Court building. Further considerations include the need to ensure the UKSC’s system is not vulnerable to attack or hacking.

To publish details of the Court’s systems could make them more susceptible to hacking, enabling hackers to target specific areas of the Court’s systems. This would be to the detriment of providing an efficient court service, as well as a failure in providing a duty of care to Justices, UKSC staff, and court visitors.

The security of the UKSC, its Justices, staff and visitors is of paramount importance. As such, we will not divulge whether any information is or is not held as, to do so would place the safety of individuals at risk, undermine security or compromise law enforcement.