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Offences at Universities - 294/20

Date Responded 03 March 2020

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:

Could you please provide a breakdown of the number of sexual assaults and rapes recorded at universities in the calendar years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Please include the name of the university and the number of both rapes and sexual assaults committed for each year.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.

The information requested is not held in a format that allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold.  Searches for all crimes classified as sexual offences would need to be manually reviewed to establish which had occurred at ‘universities’.  Searches using only the word ‘university’ would not bring back accurate results as location may be recorded as something else, ie ‘student halls’ and would miss out instances of buildings owned and operated by the Universities themselves, properties that facilitate university business but are not strictly universities, accommodations owned by the universities or accommodations which are entirely independent but house only students from the universities.

There are an approximate 3,000 crimes classified as sexual offences per year, and at a conservative estimate of 3 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract information to offer an accurate response to this submission would take over 150 hours for a one year period alone, and as such Section 12(1) 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.

When applying Section 12 exemption our duty to assist under Section 16 of the Act would normally entail that we contact you to determine whether it is possible to refine the scope of your request to bring it within the cost limits.  However, from the information outlined above I see no reasonable way in which we can do so.

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