Risk to Public Safety to Release ‘Secret Chinese Police Station’ Information: Police
A UK police force has said it would be “detrimental to public safety” to release information on a so-called secret Chinese “police station.”
The Epoch Times can reveal that Police Scotland is refusing to reveal details of investigations or incidents attended by officers at a Glasgow city centre restaurant identified by a human rights group as an overseas Chinese police bureau.
In a report released last year, Safeguard Defenders said the Sauchiehall Street premises was one of a number of Fuzhou and Qingtian public security bureaus operating in the UK.
The nongovernmental organisation—which identified over 100 operating throughout the globe—claimed the centres are intended to leverage Chinese citizens into returning to China, or to prevent dissenters from speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime.
Two other hubs in London were also identified as overseas “police” bases for the Beijing regime.
The Metropolitan Police said it would neither “confirm or deny” it held any information on incidents or investigations surrounding both premises.
In a lengthy refusal notice to provide information to The Epoch Times under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Police Scotland said that while it did hold information on the Glasgow city premises, it would not be releasing those details.
Claiming an exemption under Section 39 of “Health, Safety and the Environment” of the Act, police said disclosure “would, or would be likely to endanger the physical or mental health or the safety of an individual.”
It added: “If, as described above, a licence holder and members of their staff fail to report crimes or offences which happen on or near to their premise, then, as stated, many crimes would go unreported.
“The safety of the customers within the establishment, the staff, and also the wider community would then be compromised.
“Police Scotland cannot release information that would be detrimental to the safety of the public.”
Public Interest Test
Police Scotland also claimed it was exempt from releasing the information under “law enforcement” grounds.
“If Police Scotland were to release statistics on the frequency of incidents, this may have a detrimental impact on specific premises,” the FOI response stated.
In a third reason for declining The Epoch Times’ request, the police force said disclosing the information “may result in licence holders/staff failing to contact the police when crimes happen in or near to their premises.”
It added: “Police Scotland relies on the cooperation of the license holders and their staff to report any relevant matters of concern, or any crimes they witness to the service without delay. If we were to release these statistics then it would follow that license holders, in general, would again be reluctant to inform the police of offences which occur within or near to their premises, seek advice in relation to their premises or encourage the police to visit.”
Police Scotland said that this could result in crimes going “unreported.”
“This would harm both the police service, as it would be harder to detect and solve crime and would also harm the wider community, as crimes within or near to licensed premises would go undetected, increasing the risk to the community as a whole from crime.”
Claiming to have balanced the refusal to provide the information with the public interest test, Police Scotland added: “It can be argued that accountability, public awareness and public participation would favour disclosure.
“That said, the applicability of the above exemptions, the interest of third parties, the efficient and effective conduct of the service, the flow of information to the service and the overall safety of the wider community clearly favour non-disclosure of the information.”
The Epoch Times has requested an internal review of Police Scotland’s decision.
The Metropolitan Police was also asked for similar information on premises identified by the human rights NGO in the Watford Way area of northwest London, and the High Street area of Croydon.
In response, the police force said it would “neither confirm or deny” it held information on incidents attended by officers or investigations carried out by police under data protection grounds.
The FOI response stated, “To confirm or deny whether personal information exists in response to your request could publicly reveal information about an individual or individuals, thereby breaching the right to privacy afforded to persons under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).”
The Epoch Times has again made a request for an internal review of the police force’s FOI refusal.
In November, the Home Office confirmed that British police had launched an investigation into the reports of three unofficial Chinese police stations.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat told MPs that the government was also assessing the reports, as well as other actions by Chinese officials that are “incompatible with diplomatic status.”
Speaking to Parliament in April, Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the security services had previously warned government about the activities of the illegal bureaus.
“We know that they are bringing Chinese dissidents in, confronting them with videos of their families, and threatening their families in front of them if they do not cooperate, leave, and go back to China.
“We know that. The security services have warned the government about it.
“The question today is this: why in heaven’s name have we not acted, alongside the Americans and even the Dutch, to shut those stations down and kick those people out of the country?”
MP Alicia Kearns said she was aware of four “illegal police stations operating in the country” including one in Belfast “missing from much of the reporting.”
“There is no question that when we are vulnerable at home to Chinese transnational repression, we are weaker on the world stage,” she said.