Access to Alexa Recordings - 931/19

Date Responded 07 August 2019

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:

I am writing to enquire about the number of times the police force has asked to get hold of Alexa recordings from Amazon as a part of an investigation. I ask for access to information based on the following questions under the Freedom of Information.

  1. How many times have recordings been asked for during any investigations?
  2. How many recordings have been obtained already?
  3. How often do Amazon hand over recordings?

In Response:

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) guidelines state that:

A public authority must confirm or deny whether it holds the information requested unless the cost of this alone would exceed the appropriate limit.

I can neither confirm nor deny that the information you require is held by Northumbria Police as to actually determine if it is held would exceed the permitted 18 hours therefore Section 12(2) 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.

I have set out the reasons for this below.

Any information that may or may not be held, cannot be ascertained within the permitted 18 hour threshold.  This is particularly relevant as there is no search  limits within your request therefore we cannot search an indefinite time period within the 18 hour time limit.  However, even if this request was limited to a one year period only, this would still attract a Section 12 refusal as every crime would need to be manually reviewed to establish if such information had been recorded.  With thousands of crimes recorded each year this cannot be achieved within the permitted 18 hours.

Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another. Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.


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