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.
- The total number of cyberstalking incidents recorded per calendar year from 2014 – 2019. Please provide an annual breakdown. For 2019, where possible please provide information until the end of September.
- Where possible, provide detail on each recorded incident (e.g harassment, stalking, stalking involving serious alarm/distress). Please provide annual breakdown as per Q1
- The number of cyberstalking incidents in which the perpetrator(s) is identified, per calendar year from 2014 – 2019. Please provide annual breakdown as per Q1
- The number of individuals that have reported cyberstalking offences to your police force, per calendar year from 2014 – 2019. Please provide annual breakdown as per Q1
- Please provide details relating to the outcome of the perpetrator referenced in Q3 (e.g charge, caution, fixed penalty, resolution). This information should be broken down per calendar year from 2014-Sept 2019 as per Q1.
- The number of cyberstalking cases that have reached court per calendar year from 2014 – 2019. Please provide annual breakdown as per Q1
- The number of cyberstalking cases that resulted in a guilty verdict per calendar year from 2014 – 2019. Please provide annual breakdown as per Q1
We are aware that there are no specific cyberstalking charges. The information requested should relate to any suitable offence recorded on your crime database with an ‘internet/cyber involved’ marker. We are aware that such a marker does not mean that the offence was solely involving the internet.
As the CPS states on its website "There is no legal definition of cyberstalking, nor is there any specific legislation to address the behaviour. Generally, cyberstalking is described as a threatening behaviour or unwanted advances directed at another, using forms of online communications. Cyberstalking and harassment are often combined with other forms of 'traditional' stalking, such as being followed or, receiving unsolicited phone calls or letters, as well as 'traditional' forms of harassment. Examples of cyberstalking may include:
threatening or obscene emails or text messages;
spamming (where the offender sends the victim multiple junk emails);
live chat harassment or flaming (a form of online verbal abuse);
leaving improper messages on online forums or message boards;
trolling or cyber bullying
sending electronic viruses;
sending unsolicited email; and,
cyber identity theft"
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, in part, by Northumbria Police however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.
The information requested cannot be extracted from systems used within the 18 hour time constraints. This is particularly relevant at points 6 and 7, as to establish a response at these parts would require in excess of 420 cases to be manually reviewed to confirm the number of cyberstalking cases that have reached court per year and those that had reached a guilty verdict. 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 35 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 part 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. However, 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 the remaining questions as set out above.
If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly.