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 number of people arrested for drug dealing who were carrying or used a card reader to take payments over the past five years (from 1st January 2015 - 1st January 2020).
Please could this be broken down by date, place and include details of the offender’s name, the type of charge and whether it resulted in conviction.
If possible could you also include all available details of the arrest such as details of the type of drugs they were carrying/sold and the amount of money taken via card payments and cash.
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.
The information requested, if held, is not held in a format that would allow its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold. Each arrest relating to drug dealing would need to be reviewed to establish if the payment method you have outlined above had been used. This would require in excess of 1,400 arrest records being manually reviewed. 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 133 hours, therefore Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act is appropriate.
You should note that had Section 12 not be relevant, the names of persons would not have been provided as Section 40 of the Act would have been considered as appropriate.