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.
Please could you pull together a breakdown of the number of people arrested by your force on susp of offences related to cocaine (eg driving under the influence, possession, possession with intent to supply, etc. etc.), broken down into months, from Jan 2015 - Oct 2018?
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.
The information requested is not held in a format which allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hours.
There are 5 offences which contain the word “cocaine,” these are
092/10 Drugs Production or being concerned in the production of Cocaine
092/30 Drugs Supplying or offering to supply Cocaine
092/50 Drugs Having possession of a controlled drug Cocaine
092/70 Drugs Possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply Cocaine
093/10 Drugs Permitting premises to be used for unlawful purposes Cocaine
A search of those offences would not provide accurate data as the drug may not have been identified as Cocaine at the time of the arrest and therefore an arrest may be made under an offence relating to “other class A” until it can be identified. In addition, there were over 2000 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs (includes those where it is not possible to determine whether the offender is driving under the influence of drink or drugs at the time of the arrest) during the period specified. To identify those which relate to cocaine each incident would have to be reviewed to see if the type of drug is specified (often it is not known at the time). Even at a conservative estimate of 3 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information alone would take over 100 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.
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.