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 nature of the offence concerned, however this can be most conveniently identified from your records - for example, either by description (e.g. ‘Religiously aggravated criminal damage’), corresponding Home Office Data Hub Code (‘58J’) or legislative provision (for this example, section 30 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998);
- The religious group the victim has left or is presumed to have left; and
- The religious group the victim has adopted or is presumed to have adopted. This may well of course be ‘no religion’, although research suggests that there are other possibilities.
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
This information will not be disclosed and by withholding we rely on the following exemption.
Section 40(2) Personal Information
This is an absolute exemption and therefore a Public Interest Test is not relevant. However, for clarity, I will explain my rationale for engaging this exemption.
Section 40(2) provides that information is exempt if it is the personal data of someone other than the applicant and disclosure would breach any of the data protection principles. The term ‘personal data’ means data that relates to a living individual who can be identified. This may take an obvious form of ‘personal’ such as a name but can also include information from which a person can be identified. Although not explicitly naming individuals, the cumulative effect of full disclosure may lead to the identification of those involved in an incident; not only the person(s) subject of the complaint, but potentially those making a complaint or assisting with an incident, such as potential witnesses.
A disclosure in this instance, because it is so specific, would infringe the first Data Protection Principle, in that it would be both unlawful and unfair.