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Speech:
Date Responded 12 February 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 know what crimes took place on Thursday 23rd January fro 12noon onwards”

After we sought clarity, as your request was unclear, you confirmed that you were seeking crimes from Thursday 23rd January 12 noon until 11.59 pm only, for the whole force area.

In Response:

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

I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however will not be disclosed as we have considered that the following exemption is relevant to withhold.

Section 30(1) (a) (b) (c) - Investigations and proceedings conducted by a public authority

Section 30(1) states that information is exempt information if it has at any time been held for the purposes of any investigation.  This exemption is a qualified and class based exemption and accordingly Northumbria Police does not need to carry out a harm test for this exemption.  As section 30 is a qualified exemption the application of a public interest test is required and I have set this out below.

For Disclosure:

Disclosure would adhere to the basic principle of being open and transparent and would allow for a more accurate public debate.  There is a legitimate public interest in knowing what crimes may have been reported to the police and that that the Force is currently investigating.  The community at large may benefit from disclosure as this may encourage accurate and informed public debate.  It would also correct rumour and speculation and provide confidence in the Force's ability to investigate any alleged offences.

Against Disclosure:

Whilst such information may be released in order to serve a core policing purpose (i.e. to protect life and property and/or assist in prevention and detection of crime and/or in the apprehension and prosecution of offenders), it will only be disclosed if there are strong public interest considerations favouring disclosure.  Northumbria Police has a duty to ensure all investigations are dealt with fairly and equally.  It is important that any investigation is conducted with regard to confidentiality and privacy.  The public interest would not be served if a disclosure breaches those obligations placed on an authority.  The disclosure of crimes which had occurred on a specific very recent date and specific short period of time has the potential to undermine investigations and any potential criminal proceedings which could arise.  The release of the information requested would indicate to an individual whether a crime they may have been involved in had or had not been reported to the police.  This would give them the chance to evade capture, dispose of any evidence or carry out further criminal acts I the knowledge that their activity had not been reported.  The release of such information would also act as a deterrent to victims to report crimes as it would be seen that anything reported would be public knowledge and revenge action may be taken by the offenders who would then know by the date/time and the offences specified, that the victims had gone to the police.

Balancing Test

The Police Service is tasked with enforcing the law and protecting the community we serve and there is a public interest argument in ensuring we are open and transparent with regard to policing investigations.  The ability of Northumbria Police to conduct such enquiries is crucial to the principles of prevention and detection of crime.  From the issues outline above any disclosure relating to this submission cannot be disclosed.  It is therefore our opinion that the balance lies in favour of non-disclosure of the information at this time.

The Police service is tasked with protecting the community and solving crime and they would not disclose information if it would jeopardise those important roles.  By disclosing the requested information would mean that criminal investigations would be less effective and the small benefit in increased public awareness would not be adequate compensation for such an impact on society.  Although the public is entitled to be kept informed, this does not outweigh the forces obligations to the public, in the prevention and detection of crime.

Additionally the victims must be the centre of our thoughts, and we would not want to disclose any information which places them at risk or adds to the current stress that any crimes reported by them may have caused.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, you should consider this as a refusal for this part of your request.

Additionally the victims must be the centre of our thoughts, and we would not want to disclose any information which places them at risk or adds to the current stress that any crimes reported by them may have caused.

 

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, you should consider this as a refusal for this part of your request.

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