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Date Responded 21 August 2019

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. Details of all reported knife crimes in the force area during May 2019, or the most recent month where figures are available, including: i, A date and nearest street location for each report,  ii, A brief description of the nature of the report i.e. possession of a knife, wounding with intent, murder etc
  2. The number of reported knife crimes in the force area for Apr 2017 - Mar 2018 and Apr 2018 - Mar 2019.


In Response:

  1. We have interpreted your request seeking “details” as requesting the number of knife crimes during May.  We can advise that there have been a total number of 107 knife crimes during the month of May 2019. 

i, This information will not be disclosed and by withholding we rely on the following exemptions:

Section 30 (1) Investigations

Section 40 Personal Information (2

Section 30(1)(a) - Investigations & Proceedings by Public Authorities

This 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.

Section 40 (2) - Personal Information

Section 40 (2) is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in disclosure.  That being said where Section 40(2) is engaged in order to make the exemption absolute there needs to be evidence that a data protection principle would be breached by disclosure.  In this case it would not be fair to process information to a level which, we believe by providing all the information you have requested, could lead to the identification of an individual.  Therefore the first principle of the Data Protection Act would be breached.

For Disclosure:

Disclosure of information about how Northumbria Police conducts its functions could enhance the accountability of the Force and its individual officers in the performance of their respective duties.  There is a legitimate public interest in knowing that the Force investigates these cases and that investigations bring about a satisfactory conclusion.  The community at large may benefit from disclosure as this may encourage accurate and informed public debate.  It would also correct rumour and speculation and provide confidence in the Force's ability to investigate any alleged offences.

Against Disclosure:

It is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) view that information relating to investigations will rarely be disclosed under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  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.  The further the considerations favouring disclosure are from a tangible community benefit, the lighter the considerations will be.

Northumbria Police has a duty to ensure all investigations are dealt with fairly and equally.  It is important that any investigation is conducted with regard to confidentiality and privacy.  The public interest would not be served if a disclosure breaches those obligations placed on an authority.

It is in the public interest that members of the public are not inhibited in any way from providing information to Northumbria Police.  The public need to retain confidence in the Force in order to allow us to gather information and perform our public service function.  This would not be so if the information you are seeking was released into the public domain.  The information you are seeking will contain sensitive information regarding ongoing investigations.  We would not disclose information that would identify ongoing investigatory proceedings as this could cause the offender to adapt their behaviour to avoid detection among other prejudices to the investigation.

Balancing Test:

When considering applications under the Freedom of information Act, information should be disclosed unless the reasoned application of the exemptions and public interest considerations favours non-disclosure.  I have analysed the competing arguments and weighed up the community benefit and opportunity for debate that disclosure of this information may provide.  However, I consider that the release of information which relates to any finalised or ongoing investigations would have a huge impact on the ability of Northumbria police to conduct effective investigations in the future.  We must seek to protect our core policing function and not disclose information which could potentially undermine the whole criminal justice process.  Investigations have been conducted appropriately and thoroughly.

I have carefully considered your request and I have decided that on balance it is in the public interest to withhold the requested information.  It is my view that provision of this information would not be beneficial to the community as a whole and it may deter members of the public from seeking police assistance or providing information in the future.  Whilst this may not suit your needs, it is appropriate that the information you are asking to be made public is protected and therefore the use of S30 is relevant.

In accordance with Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice for any further information in relation to such crimes by location and date specific.

ii, The information provided below has been presented in such a way as to avoid applying exemptions relevant under the act.



Sexual Offences

Violence Against the Person


May 2019















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