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Arrests as a Result of Vigilante or Paedophile Hunter Groups - 1370/19

Date Responded 19 November 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:

  1. How many people have been arrested as a result of ‘Vigilante or ‘paedophile hunter’ groups since 2010?Could these figures also be broken down by year please?
  2. How many people have been charged as a result of ‘vigilante’ or ‘paedophile hunter’ groups since 2010?Could these figures also be broken down by year please?
  3. How many ‘vigilante’ or ‘paedophile hunter’ group members, have been charged as a result of their work and specifically under what offence since 2010?
  4. The release of any policy or internal briefing or guidance document (or any part thereof) relating to interactions between your police service officers and members of so-called 'paedophile hunter' or 'paedophile vigilante' groups?

In Response:

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 both the Crime and Corporate Development Departments 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 in a format that allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hour time threshold. In 2019 alone there have been 840 arrests for  sexual offences. Each of those would require a manual review to establish which, if any, involved ‘vigilante’ or ‘Paedophile Hunter Groups.’  Even at a conservative estimate of 3 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information for hat time period alone would take over 42 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.

When applying Section 12 exemption our duty to assist under Section 16 of the Act would normally entail that we contact you to determine whether it is possible to refine the scope of your request to bring it within the cost limits. However, from the information we have outlined above I see no reasonable way in which we can do so.

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