From The Independent of the UK:
Exclusive: Freedom of Information request refused so ministers have ‘safe space’ to discuss policy
Lizzie Dearden Home Affairs Correspondent @lizziedearden
13 hours ago
The government is refusing to release official research on the characteristics of grooming gangs, claiming it is not in the “public interest”.
It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts.
“I will not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it,” he said at the time.“We know that in these recent high profile cases, where people convicted have been disproportionately from a Pakistani background.
“I’ve instructed my officials to explore the particular contexts and characteristics of these types of gangs.”
But the government has made no further announcements on the review following Mr Javid’s move to the Treasury last year. It has, however, said it will soon publish a national strategy that will set out a “whole system response to all forms of child sexual abuse”.
In December, The Independent was told that the work had been completed but would only be used for internal policy-making and would not be publicly released.
In response to a freedom of information (FOI) request asking for the research carried out and any reports drawn up as a result, the Home Office confirmed it held the information but would not release it.
In a letter to The Independent, officials said they had applied a “public interest test” but the information was exempt from the act because it concerned the development of government policy.
“One of the main purposes of the exemption is to protect the ‘safe space’ necessary for ministers and officials to consider policy options in private without risk of premature disclosure,” it added.
“Disclosure would risk pre-empting decisions still to be made by ministers. In addition, the information could be misleading if made public and used out of context.”
The Independent (whose readers tend to favor the centrist-upscale Liberal Democrats) posted this picture: