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.
Unless otherwise specified, I would like to receive the following information for the previous five years, with an annual breakdown. I also request a breakdown by specific offences (if available). In each case, please provide the maximum severity (eg speed, BAC), and/or details of the breakdown of any offence severity banding (eg speeding at 30mph over the limit) as applicable.
1) How many of your serving police officers were found to have committed what would ordinarily be considered to be traffic offences while on duty (eg caught on camera speeding or shot by a traffic policeman exceeding a speed limit)? Please exclude any cases where there was a bona fide blue light emergency, or where specific permission was otherwise given.
A) How many of the above were dealt with by means of internal disciplinary processes, rather than being charged or given a fixed penalty notice (FPN)? Please detail the internal sanctions used, eg restricted duties, dismissal,verbal warning etc.
B) In how many cases above was no action taken?
C) In how many cases above was a prosecution mounted, or FPN issued?
2) How many officers, both in work and outside of work (given separately), have been charged with motoring offences from your force?
3) What guidance exists for officers who stop or reprimand colleagues for motoring offences, both in work and out of work, to prevent unduly lenient treatment?
4) What is the policy for police officers (not on blue lights) who are caught by speed cameras and ATS cameras?
5) What is the procedure for complaints to be raised concerning any unduly lenient treatment of police officers and staff, specifically with regard to motoring offences?
6) What is your force's procedure for allowing the public to report officers for motoring offences, and what are the procedures for bringing charges or issuing FPNs in such circumstances?
7) Do you use police vehicle in-cab footage, dash cams or telematics to monitor officers' driving, and to identify offending by officers?
8) What complaints, if any, has your force received concerning unduly lenient treatment of motoring offences by officers?
9) How many accidents (minor, and separately KSI) have occurred with police officers driving in the course of their duties - excepting tactical stops and other deliberate operational maneuvers.
10) How many off duty police officers were involved in KSI collisions while driving off duty, and separately in non-emergency driving in work? How many of these were prosecuted?
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 all departments where such information may be held, in this instance the Professional Standards Department, the Fixed Penalty Unit and the Operations Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police, however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.
The information requested is not held centrally, nor is it held in a format that would allow its extraction within the permitted 18 hours. With regards to points 1,2,8,9 and 10 the department most likely to be able to respond to this part, PSD, have advised that it would require a member of staff to manually review in excess of 150 traffic related cases to offer a response to each of those points. Even at a conservative estimate of 10 minutes per record, which we have considered as a reasonable minimum, we have estimated that to extract this information alone would take over 25 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.
Although excess cost removes Northumbria Police's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied information below, relative to 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.
With regards to points 5 and 6 complaints regarding the actions of any officer or member of staff can be made via the Professional Standards Department. This department deals with allegations of misconduct and complaints from members of the public. To assist further I have provided a link to the Northumbria Police website that details this procedure.
Additionally our Operations Department have given an overview of points 3, 4, 6 and 7 in order to assist with this request and we have provided this below for your information. We hope it will be useful to you.
When on duty, if an officer stops a fellow police officer or staff colleague for a motoring offence then there is an expectation that the matter is dealt with as it would be should the matter involve any other member of the public. Checks made by a police officer using police computer systems (whether conducted by the officer or via the officer’s radio) are fully auditable and can be scrutinised at a later date if required.
When driving a police vehicle, officers have certain exemptions which they can claim. Exceeding speed limits and contravening stop signals are two such examples. These exemptions can be claimed for marked and unmarked police vehicles, whether emergency equipment is activated or not. Should a police officer whilst not on blue lights exceed the speed limits, activate speed cameras or ATS cameras, then the officer would have to show that at that specific time, they were using the vehicle for a policing purpose. On such activations, it is usual for the Fixed Penalty Unit to issue the force with a Notice of Intended Prosecution, and a form requiring the driver of the police vehicle to be identified. Once identified, it is the responsibility of the police driver to prove through a transparent and auditable process that the use of the police vehicle at that time was for a policing purpose so the relevant exemption can be claimed. If this is not the case, the police driver will face prosecution in exactly the same way, and to the same criteria, as any other member of the public.
Northumbria Police as a force are welcoming of support from members of the public when it comes to reporting crime and offences, be this road traffic related or otherwise. Operation Dragoon is a long running enforcement and education branch of roads policing and regularly receive reports of road traffic offences and bad driving, often captured on dash cameras. An investigation would take place and where appropriate action would be taken against offenders identified. This would be the case with serving police officers whether on or off duty, and again, if exemptions are being claimed, then officers would have to prove this to be the case. If no exemptions could be claimed, then the officer would be dealt with in the same way as a member of the public. These reports could be made by telephoning 101, texting the force, emailing a report into the force, or attending a police station to make a report.
Some of the police vehicles in Northumbria Police are equipped with video recording systems and all have GPS and incident data recorders installed. In the event of a reported incident, these systems will be used in an attempt to obtain material to assist in the investigation. Supervisors regularly accompany staff members in vehicles in order to assess their day to day duties and driving, and any issues are highlighted with re-training being undertaken where appropriate. Police pursuits are always reviewed by a suitably trained and authorised Motor Patrols Supervisor, and a Supervisor is always informed and attends a police involved road traffic collision. Dip sampling does take place where material is reviewed to ascertain if police drivers are adhering and driving in line with their training. In the event of poor driving being identified, reports are submitted to Senior Officers, re-training is undertaken where deemed appropriate, and in appropriate cases, the police driver will face prosecution (fixed penalty notice, educational course or Court summons) in line with members of the public.
You may also wish to visit the Northumbria Police Disclosure Log, link provided below, Complaints and Discipline section which may provide you with further that may be of interest.