Seal and Queensland Police Service
(2005 F0619, 26 June 2007)
The applicant, a former police officer, sought access to a large number of documents he believed to be held by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) regarding complaints made by the applicant about other members of QPS, a complaint the applicant made about a member of the public and complaints made about the applicant during his employment at QPS.
Section 44(1) Matter concerning personal affairs
Several documents and parts of documents were claimed by QPS to be exempt under section 44(1) of the FOI Act. The matter in issue comprised information which would reveal the identities of several persons involved in domestic violence matters, as well as information about other police officers’ family relationships. Assistant Information Commissioner Corby considered that the matter in issue was properly characterised as concerning the personal affairs of persons other than the applicant.
Assistant Information Commissioner Corby considered that there were no public interest considerations in favour of disclosure and therefore, disclosure of the matter in issue would not, on balance, be in the public interest.
Section 40(c) Effect on management or personnel
Assistant Information Commissioner Corby considered that if documents containing information about matters which were discussed in performance reviews were disclosed to third parties under the FOI Act, it would result in officers of QPS being unwilling to participate in performance reviews with candour, thereby significantly lessening the effective use of performance reviews.
Assistant Information Commissioner Corby considered that the detrimental effect on the ability of QPS’ ability to manage its staff, which disclosure of the matter in issue could reasonably be expected to have, outweighed the public interest in the public being able to scrutinise the performance of QPS officers.
Section 46(1)(b) Matter communicated in confidence
Assistant Commissioner Corby decided that a code which could potentially be used to interrogate a confidential database, was confidential information and had been communicated in confidence to the QPS. She considered disclosure of the information in issue could reasonably be expected to prejudice the supply of like information in the future, as the code was supplied to QPS as part of a joint initiative between Queensland Transport and QPS and that disclosure was not in the public interest.
Sufficiency of search
The applicant raised a significant number of issues regarding the adequacy of QPS searches for documents responsive to his application. Having considered the searches made for each item of the applicant’s application remaining in issue, Assistant Information Commissioner Corby decided that there were either: no reasonable grounds to believe that further documents existed in QPS’ possession or control; where there were reasonable grounds to believe that further documents once existed, they had not been retained or were unable to be located; and the searches performed by QPS had been reasonable in all the circumstances of the case.
Section 22(a) Documents to which access may be refused
Access was refused to documents regarding the applicant’s work performance as QPS Human Resources Manual allows for the provision of these documents under an alternative arrangement. Assistant Commissioner Corby decided that QPS were entitled to refuse access to documents relating to the applicant’s work performance as the applicant could reasonably get access to them under an alternative arrangement.
Section 29 Substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources
QPS submitted that it was entitled to refuse to deal with the part of the applicant’s application which required the search of back-up tapes. Assistant Commissioner Corby decided that as dealing with the relevant part of the applicant’s application would take at least ten working weeks, QPS were entitled to refuse to deal with that part of the application under section 29 of the FOI Act.