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Date Responded 17 January 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:

I would like to request the following information, broken down by year, for each of the last two calendar years (2018 and 2019):

  1. How many crimes were recorded by the force relating to child grooming charges including the offence of "attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming"
  2. What was the outcome of these cases? How many people were charged or summonsed for the offence of "attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming"?
  3. How many of the cases in each of Q1 and Q2 involved evidence obtained by online child abuse activist groups (commonly known as paedophile hunters or paedophile vigilantes)?
  4. If possible within the time limit, please also tell me how many crimes have been recorded in each of the last two calendar years where the perpetrator is a member of online child abuse activist group who has committed an offence (eg. harassment, privacy or violence offences) during a confrontation with a suspected sex offender?

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Corporate Development Department of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.

To establish a response at points 3 and 4 alone would require in excess of 97,000 records to be manually reviewed to establish which met the criteria specific to these parts of your request.  Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 8,106 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 parts 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.  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.  Therefore, 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 and 2 as set out above. 

You should note that exemptions may be considered and applied where relevant, however this can only be assessed once the information has been extracted and reviewed.

If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly.

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