Incidents - Catfishing - 628/18

Date Responded 27 July 2018

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 tell me how many incidents of alleged catfishing you have had in the calendar years (1 Jan- 31 Dec) 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017? Catfishing is where someone deceives a person by using a fake online profile usually by using pictures of someone that is not them.

2. How many incidents of alleged impersonation of an individual by using photographs or their identity online eg facebook, tinder or an online chatroom

3. How many incidents of alleged fake online profiles being used to mislead an individual


In Response:

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.

The information asked for in this FOI does not have a specific HO code.  This type of crime is most likely to be found under ‘action fraud’.  There were 2,152 crimes of action fraud in 2017/18 alone, each of which  would require a manual review of the MO to find any that fit the criteria of this request.   This exercise cannot be achieved within the permitted 18 hours, even for that one year period alone.

However in attempt to provide you with something I can advise that research was made for the word ‘catfish’ in the MO of all crimes in the period requested.  This brought back nil results, however this should not be taken as being an accurate response for the reasons already outlined above.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would expect that you to take into consideration the factors highlighted above so as not to mislead members of the public or official bodies or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.

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