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.
Please could you provide us with a list of all female victims of homicide killed between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 (inclusive) which your authority has been responsible for investigating and, for each victim:
1. the date of the homicide;
2. the names of the victims and the accused / perpetrator;
3. the age of the victim;
4. the ethnicity/race of the victim;
5. the relationship between the accused and the victim;
6. the sex of the accused / perpetrator;
7. the ethnicity/race of the perpetrator;
8. if identified, the way in which the victim was killed;
Also, if possible, we would appreciate the following information.
9. whether there were any previous reports from the victim (or any third party) regarding the accused / perpetrator; and
10. whether there were any previous reports and / or convictions of any other offences related to violence against women perpetrated by the accused / perpetrator.
However, if you are unable to provide information on points 8 and 9, please provide information on the first seven points only.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Crime Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
Victim: Pek Ying Ling (Evelyn Pek) - aged 51 years - Female
Suspect: Soong Hert Fong - aged 50 years – charged with murder - Male
Incident Date: 6 December 2021
Relationship: Husband and wife and from Singapore
This case is an ongoing investigation and therefore no further information will be provided, and by withholding, we rely on the following exemption:
S30(1)(a) – Investigations
Section 30(1) states that information is exempt information if it has at any time been held for the purposes of any investigation. This exemption is a qualified and class based exemption and accordingly Northumbria Police does not need to carry out a harm test for this exemption. As section 30 is a qualified exemption the application of a public interest test is required and I have set this out below.
Public Interest Test – Section 30
Disclosure would adhere to the basic principle of being open and transparent and would allow for a more accurate public debate. There is a legitimate public interest in knowing that the Force investigates cases thoroughly and brings investigations to satisfactory conclusions. The community at large may benefit from disclosure as this may encourage accurate and informed public debate.
Section 30(1) of the Act applies if the information requested has been held by a public authority at any time for the purposes of any investigation with a view to it being ascertained whether a person should be charged with an offence, or whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it.
Whilst such information may be released in order to serve a core policing purpose (i.e. to protect life and property and/or assist in prevention and detection of crime and/or in the apprehension and prosecution of offenders), it will only be disclosed if there are strong public interest considerations favouring disclosure. Northumbria Police has a duty to ensure all investigations are dealt with fairly and equally and that those investigations are not compromised by the disclosure of any information that could prejudice those proceedings. As this case is ongoing no further information will be disclosed. We would not compromise any investigation just to offer a response to a FOI request and as a result Section 30 is therefore engaged.
The Police Service is tasked with enforcing the law and protecting the community we serve and there is a public interest argument in ensuring we are open and transparent with regard to policing investigations. The ability of Northumbria Police to conduct enquiries into such cases is crucial to the principles of prevention and detection of crime. From the issues outline above any disclosure relating to any ongoing investigation could compromise those investigations. It is therefore our opinion that the balance lies in favour of non-disclosure of the information at this time.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, you should consider this as a refusal for your request.
You should note that had S30(1) not been wholly applicable other relevant exemptions would have been considered and applied where appropriate.