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Crimes persons bitten - 810/18

Date Responded 30 August 2018

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:

1) How many offences were reported to Northumbria Police that involved someone biting another person during years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and the year to date?

2) How many people were prosecuted for biting another person during years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and the year to date?

3) If possible, please break this down by a) body part bitten, b) severity of injury.

4) How many offences were reported to Northumbria Police that involve someone having body parts bitten off during years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and the year to date? 

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.

There is no easy way to identify and extract the information you are seeking. An initial search was carried out  for all  crimes recorded between 01/01/2013 and 31/12/2017 where a ‘bite’ has been the method/means of carrying out the crime. This will include where an individual has bitten another but also instances of a dog biting an individual or an individual biting something other than a person.  In order to identify those which involved "someone biting another person" we would have to review each record. Each record would also have to be reviewed to categorise the body part bitten and to establish if a body part has been bitten off. Those initial  searches returned in excess of  2400 results that would require a manual review to establish if any met the criteria of this request. 

Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to establish if this information is held would take over 200 hours, therefore Section 12(2) of the Freedom of Information Act is engaged. 

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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