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Chemsex Related Crime - 563/20

Date Responded 21 April 2020

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:

Can you confirm how many arrests were made for chemsex related crime in, a) 2017, b) 2018, c) 2019?

Please provide figures for each year.

In Response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

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.

Following your confirming the definition of the term "chemsex" to be used, we are unable to search for any information as there is no offence code that relates directly to this.

As such, using this definition, any of the following "types" of drug crime would be able to be potentially defined as "chemsex related crime:"

- Possession

- Supply

- Allowing premises to be used

The only sexual offence revolving around substances would be "administering a substance with intent" which typically relates to date rape and similar offences.

As such, to establish the number of times an arrest has been made in regards to someone having consumed drugs in the hope of enhancing sexual activity would require a manual check of every drug-related crime within the three year period requested to procure the setting/intended use of the drug in question. A search for all arrests made under drug crime returns in excess of 2900 such arrests within the time period requested, each of which would need to be manually reviewed to establish which, if any, related to the criteria of this request.  As a manual review has been estimated as exceeding 150 hours,  Section 12 (2) is therefore relevant.

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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