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Psychoactive substance - 497/18

Date Responded 22 June 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.    The number of notifiable offences recorded under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

2.    A breakdown of the substances associated to those offences (listed at question 1).

3.    The number of arrests associated to those offences (listed at question 1).

4.    The outcome of those offences (listed at question 1).

5.    The number of convictions related to those offences (listed at question 1).

6. Any documents you have regarding occasions when persons have been found in possession of psychoactive substances that haven't resulted in arrests or charges being brought.

I am fully aware of the policy and have read all the related documents available online. The point is nowhere in the Act, any of the Hansard debates or the related policy documents is an attempt made to define thresholds where an offence is deemed supply with intent (in direct contrast to, for example, the MDA). As such, your staff would have to make such determinations themselves and,  I'd like any information relation to instances where these decisions have been made. 

In Response:

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

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police. 

The data at points 1-4 was obtained from the central database using the Crime and arrest tables.   The data was filtered using the appropriate HO codes and the date range from 26/05/2016 (the date the act came into force) and 16/05/2018.

Often the substance is not sent away for analysis and as such the substance concerned has been taken from reading through the MO and this is usually just a generic name for the substance.  

Please note that all of the offences in the summary have a unique crime number and therefore are only counted once, however, it is not always clear what substance the offender is in possession of and in these cases it is labelled as New Psychoactive Substance (NPS). 

This should be taken into consideration when viewing the data. 

With the above in mind I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows. 


                     Substance                          Total

                     Illegal High                           1

                     Legal High                            2

                     Mitrogyna Speciosa               1

                     Nitrous Oxide                        7

                     NPS                                     12

                     Psychoactive Drug                  1

                     Spice                                   4

                     N/A                                      1


3. 31


Outcome                    Total

No Further Action       14

Charged                      9

Postal Requisition       4

Simple Caution           1

Fail To Respond          1

Under Investigation     2

5. 5 cases with convictions


As we advised you previously in our e mail dated 15th May,  we cannot search the whole force, its officers and police staffs personal emails, all departmental mailboxes, postal records, minutes of meeting etc for any correspondence that may touch upon this point within the time constraints.  However we approached the most obvious department, that being our Crime Department, that may hold any information on point 6 for them to offer a response. This was done to avoid your whole request being refused under Section 12(1) of the Act and to provide you with something that would be useful to you. 

Their searches have brought back no results.  

In addition we can neither confirm nor deny that we hold any other information with regard to an exempt body as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemption: 

Section 23(5) Information Supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies 

Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case. 

Confirming or denying the existence of whether any other information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information applied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.  

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