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. Please provide the number of police officers, PCSOs and special constables who have been accused of sexual misconduct within your force for the financial years 2017-18 to 2020-21. Please provide this data broken down by financial year.
2. Of those cases, please provide:
The type of sexual misconduct reported, i.e. having sex on duty, sexual assault, sexual harrassment, rape.
The number of cases referred to the IOPC
The number of cases where the officer had previously been reported for misconduct.
3. Of those cases not referred to the IOPC, please provide the outcome, i.e. dismissed, resigned, written warning etc.
If you do not hold data in financial years, please provide data from 2017 - 2020.
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.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
Data has been checked for incidents of sexual misconduct for the financial years 2017-18 to 2020-21 which have been recorded on a live system and may be subject to change after the initial extraction of data used for the purposes of this report.
Results include allegations made against serving Northumbria Police Officers, PCSO’s and Special Constables and may contain historical allegations which have been reported and recorded during the time frame of this request, not necessarily the time of the incident, all alleged reports have been counted regardless of the outcome of any investigation and include cases that have been subsequently withdrawn by the complainant or where the disapplication process has been applied.
In relation to Q2 officers and staff complaint history has only been checked within the date parameters set above.
Data has been presented in a way which avoids the use of exemptions being applied to withhold.
4 x Sexual assault
14 x Inappropriate sexual behaviour
8 x sexual assault whilst in custody
3 x Inappropriate behaviour
1 x Inappropriate sexual relationship
Cases referred to IOPC:
1 x No further action- evidential difficulties
1 x Historic incident
5 x Not upheld
5 x No case to answer
3 x Dismissed
1 x Final Written Warning
5 x No misconduct identified
1 x Management Action
1 x Disapplication
1 x Resigned
1 x Management Advice
2 x No further action required
1 x The service provided was acceptable - No action
1 x Withdrawn
1 x Not determined if the service acceptable
Ongoing investigations have been excluded from the above figures and by doing so we cite the following exemption:
Section 30(1) Investigations and proceedings conducted by a public authority
Section 30(1) states that information is exempt information if it has at any time been held for the purposes of any investigation. This exemption is a qualified and class based exemption and accordingly Northumbria Police does not need to carry out a harm test for this exemption. As section 30 is a qualified exemption the application of a public interest test is required and I have set this out below.
Public Interest Test
To release information regarding ongoing investigations could potentially undermine proceedings to determine whether the appellant was guilty or not. It is important that public authorities have the space to fully investigate and consider any matters in respect of improper conduct without fear of any speculation entering the public domain which may adversely influence lawful proceedings.
Factors favouring disclosure - Disclosure would provide a full representation of the facts or issue in question, thus maintaining public confidence in the force’s ability to deal with such investigations appropriately and responsibly. Disclosure would also promote greater openness and transparency.
Factors favouring Non-disclosure - To disclose this information could prejudice any proceedings which may arise. It is important that public authorities have the space to fully investigate and consider all aspects of alleged misconduct and that all investigations are conducted in a fair manner to ascertain whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper.
In conclusion I consider that the factors favouring non-disclosure outweigh the factors favouring disclosure and as such I will not be disclosing information relating to any ongoing investigations. Although it is important that the public are apprised of the nature of such matters and may observe the steps taken by Northumbria Police in respect of dealing with misconduct allegations (including any disciplinary action taken), I consider that when weighed against the risk of prejudicing the outcome, the factors favouring non-disclosure take precedence. Whilst we attempt to put a much information into the public domain as possible we will not do so if it would have an adverse impact on any investigations.