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Internal Complaints - 1133/20

Date Responded 13 August 2020

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

In the years calender 2019 and between 1.1.2020 and 22.7.2020
How many internal allegations have been made against police officers or police staff where it is alleged that they
Failed to report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which had fallen below the standards of professional behaviour
For the first 5 complaints of each year (if any) please provide details of the complaint

To avoid falling into exemptions I am happy to have names ages and other identifying personal information to be redacted

In Response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Professional Standards Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police however as allegations are currently under investigation we shall not be disclosing and will withhold by virtue of the following exemptions.

s40(2) - Personal Information
s31(1)(g) by virtue of (2)(b)(misconduct) - Investigations

s40(2) - Personal Information
Section 40 is an absolute, class-based exemption there is no requirement for us to evidence the harm in disclosure or apply a public interest test. Any information which relates to third parties, if disclosed, would breach the data protection principles of the Data Protection Act. In this instance it would be unlawful and unfair.

S31 (1) – Investigations
Section 30 requires a Public Interest Test to be carried out. I have set this out below.
Factors favouring disclosure.
Disclosure of this information would lead to a better informed general public by identifying that Northumbria Police are currently investigating such allegations. This fact alone may encourage individuals to provide information in order to assist with investigations and would also promote public trust in providing transparency and demonstrating openness and accountability and thus promoting trust in the forces ability to conduct such allegations seriously.
Factors favouring non disclosure
To disclose the information requested would severely hinder investigations into such allegations. The success of those investigations would be then be compromised. It is not in the public interest to disclose any information prematurely that may hinder any investigations or their outcome. Such matters need a certain amount of confidentiality and its imperative that such matters are not hindered by the release of information that may affect those investigations.
Balancing Test.
The points above highlight the merits of both disclosing and not disclosing whether the information you are looking for is suitable for release into the public domain. Such investigations need to be conducted in a right and just way. To put into the public domain information where allegations have been made and investigations are ongoing into those allegations, would severely hamper any investigations. We would not divulge information that would put an investigation at risk or compromise the wellbeing of any individual. Whilst we put as much information into the public domain as we are able to, as per our Misconduct Hearings Outcomes which are published on the Northumbria Police website, the release of the information you are asking for is not considered appropriate at this moment in time.
You should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for your request.

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