Information in relation to CCTV cameras in operation at the Northern Ireland Assembly
Information Standards Freedom of Information Response
Our Ref: FOI 48-21
23 November 2021
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”)
I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) has processed your request dated 27 October 2021 in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In your request, you asked:
1) Does you use CCTV cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua, Uniview or Kedacom in any of your buildings? If yes please list which brands.
2) Are any of your CCTV cameras capable of facial recognition, temperature/thermal scanning, behaviour analysis, object detection or demographic detection (ie age, gender, clothing etc)? If yes please list which capabilities exist.
The Assembly Commission can confirm that CCTV cameras made by the brands mentioned in part 1 of your request are not in use on site or within Parliament Buildings and therefore we do not hold information in relation to this element of the request.
The Assembly Commission considers that the information sought in part 2 of your request, is exempt as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime. The relevant exemption is section 31 (1) (a) of the FOIA, (Prevention or detection of crime).
31.— (1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice –
(a) the prevention or detection of crime
Public Interest Test
Section 31 is a ‘qualified exemption’ and the Assembly Commission must therefore consider whether the public interest is in favour of maintaining the exemption or disclosing the information. On weighing the factors for and against disclosure it has been concluded that the public interest lies in not disclosing the information at this time. The factors which have been taken into account in reaching this conclusion are set out below.
Factors in favour of disclosure
- There is public interest in transparency and accountability of the Assembly Commission.
- Disclosure may promote public understanding of privacy expectations in public buildings.
- There is public interest in good decision-making by public bodies.
Factors in favour of maintaining the exemption
- The CCTV acts as a deterrent for crime against the building, elected Members, staff and visiting public and dignitaries. Disclosure of its analytical capabilities would render this ineffective.
- The CCTV aids in the prevention and detection of crime against Members and assists by ensuring their security.
- To ensure the effective use of public funds, the Assembly Commission has a public interest in protecting its property and to avoid the expense that would be incurred in dealing with criminal activity in and/or around the property.
We have reached the view that, on balance, the public interest is better served by withholding this information under Section 31(1)(a) of the FOIA at this time.
You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.
If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.
The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.
INFORMATION STANDARDS OFFICE