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Date Responded 27 February 2023

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. Please can you provide a role profile for a digital forensic investigator (or similar position)?

2. What number of forensic submissions have you received in the last 12 months that have included Ring doorbells, Amazon Alexa, Google Nest and Google Home? (Please provide figures where possible)

3. What offences have Ring doorbells, Amazon Alexa, Google Nest and Google Home devices and data been submitted for?

4. How many times has data from a smart domestic device been submitted to CPS and formed part of a prosecution file?

5. Which smart domestic devices can be considered as more reliable in forensic investigations (Give reasons)?

  • Smartphones
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Ring doorbells
  • Google Nest
  • Others

6. What are the forensic tools i.e software, does your organisation have access to analyse data from smart devices in forensic investigations in the UK and please stipulate the types such as phones, doorbells, smart speakers, and Google Nest?

7. How often do digital forensic investigators receive up to data training related to collecting evidence from smart domestic devices? (Please include a training plan if possible)

8. What are the key factors influencing the amount and quality of information from smart domestic devices? (please include an explanation)

9. What Ethical, legal and privacy considerations when the police are accessing smart domestic devices for investigations?

10. Is accessing and analysing information or data recordings on smart domestic devices in breach of the human rights act 1988 for private and family life?

In Response:

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

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Forensic Serviced Department of 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 is not already held statistically nor is it held in a format that would allow its extraction from systems within the permitted 18 hour threshold.  This is particularly relevant at points 2, 3 and 4.  To establish a response at these point would far exceed the permitted 18 hours and as such 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.

Additionally I can advise that points 5 and 7-10 appear not to be valid questions.  Section 84 of FOIA relates to recorded information held by a public authority and that it does not extend to providing explanations unless the answers are already held in a recorded form:

"Information is defined in section 84 of the Act as 'information recorded in any form'.  The Act therefore only extends to requests for recorded information.  It does not require public authorities to answer questions generally; only if they already hold the answers in recorded form.  The Act does not extend to requests for information about policies or their implementation, or the merits or demerits of any proposal or action - unless, of course, the answer to any such request is already held in recorded form."

I can also advise that, had this request not been wholly refused under Section 12 that other exemptions would have been considered and applied, particularly at point 6.

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 a response to question 1.  If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly.

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