Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Met reply, unmet deadline, met with frustration...

Last month I expressed doubts about the presentation of some figures given to the Leveson Inquiry about the cost of the police investigation into phone hacking.

London Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse told the inquiry that at an expected total cost of £40 million the cost of police work and hacking and related investigations was costing more than the annual budget to tackle child abuse.

The comparison was a flawed one, contrasting as it did the total cost of a multi-year police investigation with a single year budget for another type of crime fighting.

But nevertheless the predictable thing happened and newspapers seized on the outrage-ready 'more spent on hacking than protecting children' headline.

Before I rattled off a complaint to the dear old Press Complaints Commission I thought I would at least try and get a bit more information from the Met on where this £40 million figure came from.

I asked, by way of a Freedom of Information request, for a year-by-year breakdown of previously incurred costs and projected costs for the forthcoming year(s). That way the cost could be compared against the annual figure for child protection to see in what year, if any the comparison was valid.

Sadly the Met seem out to spoil such investigation, or at least slow it down. The response to my request stated they are seeing whether the info is exempt from FoI request.

So a year by year breakdown of a total amount that is already a matter of public record is potentially exempt from the FoI?

Tis but a little bit of extra detail behind Mr Malthouse's figure, so why do they even need to consider it - and use up another month in the process?

Hmmm. I say again: Hmmm.

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