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.
1. The total numbers of active-duty police officers in the force?
For the last 5 year period:
2. The total number of active-duty police officers who have had an allegation about their conduct substantiated?
3. The total number of active-duty police officers who have had at least two allegations about their conduct substantiated?
4. The most number of times allegations have been made against a single active-duty officer?
5. The most number of times allegations have been substantiated against a single officer within the last 5 years? Please include officers who have since been dismissed
6. The most number of times allegations have been substantiated against a single officer over use of force within the last 5 years? Please include officers who have since been dismissed
Active-duty police officer refers to a serving officer.
Allegations refer to any complaint made against an officer and held on their record.
Points 4-6 - These apply to complaint, conduct and misconduct cases.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the People Services and Professional Standards Departments of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however will not be disclosed for the following reasons.
The information requested at points 5 and 6 alone is not held in a format that would allow its extraction within the 18 hour threshold. For the period requested there are 1,204 allegations, each of which would need to be manually reviewed to ascertain how many officers have since been dismissed, as there is no facility available to easily search for this data. Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 100 hours, therefore Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act would apply. This section does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimated that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours, equating to £450.00.
You should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for your request.
As part of your request would exceed the prescribed limit, as defined by the Act, there is no requirement for Northumbria Police to provide a response to the remaining parts of your request. However, in order to provide you with some assistance, under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an initial assessment of the information that may be provided within the time constraints would be for questions 2, 3 and 4 as outlined above only.
If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly.
Although excess cost removes Northumbria Police's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied a response below, relative to point 1 of your request, retrieved or available before it was realised that the fees limit would be exceeded. I trust this is helpful, but it does not affect our legal right to rely on the fees regulations for the remainder of your request.
As the information you have requested at point 1 is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request.
I have provided an explanation to this exemption below.
Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means
Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.
Statistics relating this point are published by the Home Office and therefore this information is freely available.
As this information is regularly published any information not already published that will be published at a future date is exempt under Section 22 ‘Information intended for future publication’
Section 22 Information Intended for future publication
(1) Information is exempt information if -
(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not),
(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time the request for information was made, and
(c) it is reasonable in all circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph.
This exemption requires us to apply a Public Interest Test to decide if the information you require should be released ahead of the scheduled report.
Public Interest Test
Factors Favouring Disclosure:-
Disclosure of information not yet published would enable the public to be better informed of such information, as this enables more accurate and relevant public comment and debate to take place.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure:-
The exemption engaged in this case specifically requires us to simply look at the public interest in delaying the release of information that will automatically be disclosed in the future. As it is know that this information will be published at a later date, to gather any information prior to the requirement to do so for the next scheduled publication, in order to answer this request would not be an efficient use of resources and finance as it would divert staff from their core duties and would involve a disproportionate use of resources, particularly at this time of economic concerns.
It is acknowledged that both accountability and public awareness are enhanced by the disclosure of this type of information. However, this will be achieved through the publication of the intended information.
The Section 21 and, in this case Section 22 exemptions were specifically laid down by parliament to benefit those authorities who proactively publish information. To constantly produce new and up to date elements of currently published or information intended for future publication in an attempt to satisfy an additional need outside of any scheduled publication would render these exemptions less effective and remove the benefits of proactive publication. For this reason it would be an inappropriate use of resources to carry out further research to satisfy your request.
Therefore, at this time, for the reasons outlined above, the public interest is met by the scheduled publication of this data.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for that part of your request.