Ask the right question! Dealing with the PSNI

Today the PSNI Chief Constable has been plastered across the media bemoaning costs associated to dealing with public disorder in the Ardoyne during July.

He has been very forthcoming with the sums involved and what thay could have been spent on otherwise.

However, I recently asked the PSNI several questions under FoI legisaltion in relation to 11th July bonfire incidents and they have refused to answer a single one on the basis the first question ‘ how many bonfire related incidents did you attend’ would have taken over 600 hours worth of work.

They did not address a request for estimates on how much 11th July bonfire incidents cost.

Seems some costs limits are ignored, then researched and publicised (as beneficial) – others you need to fight to obtain.

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  • Ulick

    600 hours to send out a circular email and tot up the replies! That’s definately one of the FOI Commissioner or whoever oversees them.

  • Mark McGregor


    I know. I’m more interested in eventually getting the figures though.

  • Blair


    Wouldn’t you be better off asking the fire brigade?

  • joeCanuck

    I have seen it suggested recently on another thread that you have to be careful about the exact wording of the request to have any chance of succeeding.
    Also, you might be viewed as “vexatious” if you put in too many requests. Get a friend to ask?

  • Mark McGregor

    Perhaps you should put in two requests

    1) PSNI How much overtime paid on11&12/7

    2) FireBrigade how many fires and how much overtime paid out on 11&12/7

  • Local Government Officer

    What Joe said. Though, I have to say, they normally just say “now you’re being vexatious.”

    Each station (might be district, I’m not sure, district if you are lucky for what I am about to suggest) has a crime analyst civvie person. You might not get the full answer you are looking for, but perhaps you could give them a list of the stations close to main bonfires – or just all the Prod area ones, not that I am generalising or anything.

    Then ask them to give you some feedback on how many callouts were made on 11th night relating to anti-social behaviour, alcohol related incidents, arson-related incidents…anything else like that. It won’t be exact, and lots of things come under anti-social behaviour heading. But it’ll be as close to a catch-all as you can get.

  • Why not try again and ask about internment bonfires ?

    You made the mistake of not breaking the request down by District ?

    Taking of North Belfast – not one elected and paid Unionist DPP member bothered to attend tonights North Belfast DPP meeting !!! SHAMEFUL

  • Blair


    For the internment bonfires it would be necessary to also ask the Road Service, or whoever is responsible for the flyover that was destroyed in Londonderry.

  • joeCanuck

    How much clout do MLAs have? Would a written question to the Justice Minister provide the answer?

  • Cynic

    Ah but they don’t have to attend to get paid, do they?

  • iluvni

    Perhaps the judges can take account of the costs involved and dish out some fines to those convicted of rioting.

  • Munsterview


    Same shite down here. A citizen took individual action in the Circuit Court, to get Road Traffic Convictions as he claimed that he did not know for certain how many he had, the court office would not tell him, the State solicitor claimed not to know and the Gardai said they would only disclose their records if compelled by the court.

    I was in court for most of these cases; the person took a judicial review as he claimed that he had been set up : if he got a license and insurance without a full disclosure both were a criminal offense and since he did not know himself because State abuse of court process. The high court after a lengthy hearing at which I was present, ordered the Gardai and Court officials to produce records.

    The case was appealed to the Supreme Court where the States defense that they would have to have to hand search too many documents which they did not have the resources to do. In practice as this person had said that he worked with Billy Flynn PI in exposing Garda Corruption, they not alone had the records, they openly referred to them in Court just to rub it in to this guy as to how untouchable and unaccountable they were.

    Gerry McGeough type cases involving abuse of due process are scattered right through this island North and South…… and it do not look like ending any time soon! Good luck with your FOI search…… they made it cost prohibitive down here to bar searchers on financial grounds….!

  • lamhdearg

    All that lovely overtime money (probably paid in to officers accounts last week). i hope the dissies are on the police federations christmas card list.

  • Correct money for aul rope !!

  • You could put in a number of FOI’s

    HSE – houses boarded up or damaged

    Fire Service – number of bonfires attended

    PSNI – same as above

    DOE – road repairs

    etc etc

  • Johnny Boy

    Why do you feel you have to frame your complaint about how your FOI request was dealt with in sectarian terms?

  • redhugh

    from utv news today,

    Bonfire call-out bill almost £4m
    Dealing with bonfires has cost the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service £3.7m over the past five years, the latest figures have revealed.

    Friday, 03 September 2010
    Tags: police fire Local News

    Fire crews had to attend a total of 1,352 incidents at bonfire sites between May and July in 2009, at a cost of £894,076.

    Data for the 2010 parading season has not yet been disclosed.

    The figures were revealed by the Assembly after a freedom of information question from the SDLP’s Thomas Burns.

  • Local Government Officer

    Just by the by, and I mention this only in passing. While I have no problem with Mark’s question – not in terms of how others seem to have – I do wonder how the upcoming cuts will affect FOI.

    Most queries I deal with can be done and dusted very quickly. Something like this, however, if it hasn’t been collected up or anticipated in advance, could actually be quite personnel-intensive to gather up. (Yeah, folks, before you kick off, someone DOES have to do the collecting bit – and they may be dealing with 20 FOIs of equal intricacy at the same time.)

    If a government department has a team of 20 to deal with FOI stuff and there’s an across-the-board cut of 25%…well…is this going to have a negative effect? Are there going to be a lot more “cost prohibitive” responses in the near future?