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Restriction orders - 440/18

Date Responded 18 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:

Section 107 of the Digital Economy Act, which received royal assent on 27 April 2017, grants police forces and the National Crime Agency the right to apply to the courts to restrict or prevent the use of communications devices in connection with drug dealing offences.

Please provide:

  1. The number of applications made for drug dealing telecommunications restriction orders between 27 April 2017 and 26 April 2018.
  2. The number of applications for drug dealing telecommunications restriction orders which were granted between 27 April 2017 and 26 April 2018.

In Response:

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

We shall neither confirm nor deny that we hold any information regarding your request and in doing so will rely on the following exemption.

Section 31(3) - Law Enforcement

Factors favouring disclosure  

By confirming or denying whether we have made such applications, and how many, would demonstrate the openness of the organisation to make such matters public.  Disclosure would contribute to the accuracy and quality of public debate and allow the public to know what police resources are available to uphold law and order.

 Factors favouring non disclosure

By confirming or denying what information is held would likely undermine Law Enforcement.  Such disclosure would provide valuable information to those wishing to commit crimes or avoid detection and would create a mosaic of data to those intent on doing harm as to areas of vulnerability or non detections either perceived or real.  This information could,  if released,  hinder future detection of crime and compromise law enforcement tactics.

 Balancing test.

Having considered both sides of the public interest, it is considered that the balance favours non disclosure of the information requested. Whilst this information may be of interest to the public, it is not in the public interest to provide any information that would be useful to those with intent to do so to evade apprehension or prevent the detection of crimes. Such disclosures would always be resisted.

 You should consider this to be a refusal notice under section 17 of the Act for this part of your request.

Additionally the below exemption has also been applied as relevant

Section 23 (5) – Information supplied by, or concerning, certain security bodies;

Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption which means there is no requirement to articulate any public interest considerations or harm.  Section 23 has an automatic bar to disclosure of information. 

All the other exemptions cited are qualified which requires me to conduct a harm and public interest test with regard to maintaining a neither confirm nor deny approach.

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