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.
For each year since the amended Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 came into effect in May 2014 :
- How many incidents of attacks were reported against GUIDE DOGS, and ALL REGISTERED ASSISTANCE DOGS, by another dog
- How many of those attacks were recorded as a crime on GUIDE DOGS, and ALL REGISTERED ASSISTANCE DOGS, by another dog.
- How many of those crimes resulted in any injury to the dog (broken down as guide and wider assistance dogs).
- How many were recorded as resulting in NO INJURY (broken down as guide and wider assistance dogs).
- How many attacks were recorded against guide dog owners whilst they were partnered with their guide dog
- How many attacks were recorded against registered assistance dog owners whilst they were partnered with their assistance dog
- The number of convictions for the above crimes
- How many attacks were recorded against a guide dog in training.
- How many attacks were recorded against a registered assistance dog in training.
- What support structure exists within the organisation to support vulnerable victims of attacks by dangerous dogs or other violent crime, and contact details of that support organisation / structure.
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.
Unfortunately there is no system that allows for identifying either ‘guide dogs’ or ‘registered assistance dogs’ accurately from recording methods used. An initial search on all incidents for the time period specified using the term ‘guide dog’ brought back nil results, however to be sure we then conducted several other searches including narrowing the search down to just dog on dog attacks as code ‘SM0 wildlife pets and domestic animals.’ This search method resulted in 635 returns for the search period 2019/20 alone. Each of those would need to be manually reviewed to establish if it had been recorded that either dog was a guide dog or a registered assistance dog. Even at a conservative estimate of 4 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract the information for that time period alone would take over 42 hours. We then conducted a search of crimes only, for the Home Office code of "Owner or person in charge allowing dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place injuring any person . " This offence alone returned in excess of 1200 records for the last 2 financial years. This method for that one offence alone would exceed 80 hours. Further time would then be required to search for numerous other offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act and then to conduct further research to provide a response to the remaining questions at points 3 – 10.
Section 12 is therefore applied as appropriate.
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 all the methods we have already attempted to extract the information requested, we see no reasonable way in which we can do so.