Request for details of APEC security arrangements
Request for details of APEC security arrangements declined—information withheld—disclosure would be likely to prejudice effectiveness of future security arrangements
Two journalists made requests to the New Zealand Police for details of the security arrangements surrounding the visit of foreign VIPs to New Zealand during the APEC conference. One of the requests was particularly specific, requesting the number and type of guns allowed into the country. The Police relied upon section 6 of the OIA when refusing to release the information at issue.
The Police are charged with providing personal security to VIP visitors who are accorded Guest of Government status, especially those listed under the Crimes (Internationally Protected Persons and Hostages) Act 1960 as internationally protected persons. The Police said that the security provided depends not only on the status of the visitor but also the threat assessment as determined by the Police in consultation with other Government departments and visiting officials. They stressed that details concerning measures for the protection of VIP visitors had to be kept confidential in order that such measures may be more effective. In particular the Police submitted that the effectiveness of the measures is weakened if practice, procedures and policies are publicly known. Further, historical information as to past operations can be used to build up a picture of overall Police security arrangements and thus compromise future measures.
These concerns are reflected in section 6(c) which provides a conclusive reason for withholding information on the basis that disclosure ‘would be likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences’.
Following an examination of the information at issue, it was concluded that section 6(c) applied and the Police decisions were upheld.
This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.