Date Responded 15 June 2021

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:

1. How many complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape were made against officers, community support officers and special constables between the calendar years 2016 to 2020?

2. What was the outcome of each complaint? An allegation outcome could be: case to answer, discontinuance, dispensation, no case to answer, ongoing, withdrawn.

3. Where the was a case to answer, what disciplinary action was taken?

4. Please specify the allegation of each complaint.

In Response:

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. Please note that this response supersedes any previous response you have received under this reference number.

Data has been checked for incidents of sexual misconduct for the calendar years 2016 to 2020 which have been recorded on the 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reports have been counted regardless of the outcome of any investigation and include cases that have been subsequently withdrawn by the complainant or where the disapplication process has been applied.

1. 2016 x 14
2017 x 7
2018 x 10
2019 x 6
2020 x 9

2&3. 2016
6 x No case to answer
2 x Gross misconduct – dismissed
2 x Withdrawn
1 x Disapplication
1 x Management action
1 x Final written warning
1 x No further action – evidential difficulties

2017
2 x No case to answer
2 x Gross misconduct – dismissed
1 x Historic incident
1 x Not upheld
1 x Final written warning

2018
3 x No case to answer
1 x Not upheld
5 x No misconduct identified
1 x Management advice

2019
1 x Gross misconduct – dismissed
1 x Management advice
2 x Not upheld
1 x Disapplication
1 x No misconduct identified

2020
2 x Gross misconduct – dismissed
2 x No further action required
1 x The service provided was acceptable* - No action
1 x Not upheld
1 x Reflective practice
1 x Withdrawn
1 x Not determined if the service acceptable** - No Action

Please note:
* The service provided was acceptable - This decision is selected where the investigator/complaint handler has been able to determine that the service provided by the police to the complainant was of a standard that a reasonable person could expect.
** Not determined if the service acceptable - This decision is selected where the investigator/complaint handler has not been able to come to a decision about whether the service provided by the police to the complainant was of a standard that a reasonable person could expect. This could be because there is too little information available on which to reach an opinion.

4. 2016
6 x Inappropriate sexual behaviour
4 x Sexual assault
4 x Sexual assault in custody

2017
4 x Inappropriate sexual behaviour
2 x Sexual assault
1 x Sexual assault in custody

2018
4 x Inappropriate sexual behaviour
1 x Sexual assault
3 x Sexual assault in custody
1 x Domestic incident
1 x Inappropriate sexual relationship

2019
2 x Inappropriate behaviour
3 x Sexual assault in custody
1 x Inappropriate sexual behaviour

2020
1 x Inappropriate behaviour
2 x Sexual assault in custody
6 x Inappropriate sexual behaviour

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.

Balancing Test

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.

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.

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