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COPFS

Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (R016795)– September 2017

Thank you for your request dated 24 August 2017 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

I am looking to request numbers of charges under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, which are made alongside charges under other legislation.

I would appreciate some guidance on how best to make this request.

For instance, I would like to know how many people have been charged under Sections 1 – 5 of the Act, who have also been charged under breach of the peace, and the conviction rates for both charges. Similarly, I would like to know how many people have been charged under Section 6 of the Act, who have also been charged under the Communications Act, and the conviction rates for both.

There are various other combinations I would like to assess.

I also refer to your telephone call with a member of staff from the management Information Division on 31 August 2017, after which it was agreed that we could consider a request for the undernoted information:

For charges reported to the PF in 2014-15 and 2015-16:

·   The number of people prosecuted under Section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, who have also been prosecuted under the Communications Act, and the related number of convictions for both offences.

·   The number of people prosecuted under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, who have also been prosecuted for Breach of the Peace and the related number of convictions for both offences.

·   The number of people prosecuted under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, who have also been prosecuted under S38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (threatening and abusive behaviour), and the related number of convictions for both offences.

·   For people prosecuted under either section, a list of other charges these people have also been prosecuted for (to allow you to consider whether you want to submit another FOI request covering any other offences).

In relation to the first bullet point, I can confirm that there were no people prosecuted under both the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act and the Communications Act in the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16

In respect of the second and third bullet points, I consider that the exemption under Section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to the information which is held. This is because the numbers are small enough that their release, when taken along with the information which is already in the public domain, could lead to identification of the persons involved. This information would be personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This is an absolute exemption and I am not required to apply the public interest test.

In respect of the fourth bullet point, I attach a table providing a list of other charges which persons have been prosecuted for, in addition to Section 1 or Section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act. This is to allow you to consider the submission of a further FOI request. I should advise you that where small numbers are involved, I would have to consider whether the release of that information could lead to the identification of an individual, making the information exempt from release under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA