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Date Responded 01 May 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. How many murders have been recorded by Northumbria Police from 01/01/2018 to 04/04/2018?

2. How many murders were recorded by Northumbria Police from 01/01/2017 to 04/04/2017?

3. Please provide an age (by individual year) and gender breakdown in table form for the cases outlined in Q1 an Q2.  Please can you provide ages for both the victims and defendants in the two time periods requested. 

4. How many people have been arrested in connection with the offences described in Q1?

5. How many people have been arrested in connection with the offences described in Q2?

6. How many murders recorded by Northumbria Police from 01/01/2017 to 04/04/2018 murders involved a knife? 

In Response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention. 

After contacting you for clarity in relation to question 3, we received the above amendment. 

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 by Northumbria Police. 

I am able to disclose the located information to you as attached. 

To note, any information with regards to on-going investigations will not be provided and we will rely on the following exemptions. 

Section 30(1) (a) Investigations and Proceedings by Public Authorities.

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 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. 

Section 30 requires a Public Interest Test to be carried out. I have set this out below. 

Factors favouring disclosure.

Disclosure of this information would lead to a better informed general public by identifying that Northumbria Police are currently investigating specific murders.  This fact alone may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to assist with investigations and would also promote public trust in providing transparency and demonstrating openness and accountability into where the police are currently focusing their resources and investigations.

Additionally the public are also entitled to know how public funds are spent, particularly in the current economic climate. 

Factors favouring non disclosure

To disclose the information provided would severely hinder those current investigations.  This would indicate which murders were actively being investigated, therefore alerting the offenders of that fact.  This would indicate that something had or had not been reported to us and would enable them to take evasive action to avoid detection or apprehension.  The success of those investigations would be then be compromised.  It is not in the public interest to disclose any information prematurely that may hinder those investigations.  

Balancing Test.

The points above highlight the merits of both disclosing and not disclosing whether the information you are looking for is suitable for release into the public domain.  Such investigations are carried out to aid the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, and the administration of justice. To confirm which unsolved murders are currently being investigated would severely hamper those investigations.  We would not divulge information that would put an investigation at risk or compromise the safety of any individuals or officers. Whilst we put as much information into the public domain as we are able to this information would not be considered appropriate at this moment in time for the reasons set out above. 

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