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.
This Freedom of Information request relates to the following offences set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971:
i. Possession of Cannabis - s.5(1) of the Act;
ii. Possession of Cannabis with intent to supply - s.5(3) of the Act.
1. For each of these two offences separately, please supply the following data broken down by each year a) 2017, b) 2018, c) 2019, d) 2020, e) 2021:
a) The total number of individuals arrested by your force
b) The total number of individuals cautioned by your force
c) The total number of individuals charged by your force
d) The total number of individuals prosecuted by your force
2. This next question relates to section 6 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which states cultivation is prohibited without holding a valid licence granted by the Home Office.
i) How many cannabis grows have been discovered with 9 plants or less for the following years:
a) 2016 b) 2017 c) 2018 d) 2019 e) 2020 f) 2021?
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.
The information requested is not already held statistically nor is it held in a format that would allow its extraction from systems within the permitted 18 hour threshold. This is particularly relevant at point 2
In the time period requested there were in excess of 1500 instances of the crime of "Cultivation of a cannabis plant" between Jan 2017 and Aug 2021. Each of those cases would require a manual review to establish how many plants were recorded in each offence. Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as a reasonable minimum, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 124 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.
As part of your request would exceed the prescribed limit, as defined by the Act, there is no requirement for Northumbria Police to provide a response to the remaining parts of your request. However, in order to provide you with some assistance, under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an initial assessment of the information that may be provided within the time constraints would be question 1 a – c. We cannot advise on point d, which we are taking as referring to conviction data, as this would depend on the numbers returned, and may attract another s12 refusal. In order that we can provide a response to the other points you may wish to remove 1d from any resubmission.
If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly.