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Date Responded 24 January 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:

  1. The number of calls you have received, from persons in retail premises - regarding a customer who is acting violently or aggressively towards shop staff. Please break this down, if possible, into the reasons for these calls. E.g. whether staff specifically reported a ‘physically violent’ or ‘verbally abusive’ customer, etc.
  2. The number of arrests made in retail premises, in regards to these calls. Please break this down, if possible, into the reason for arrests. E.g. ‘Threatening behaviour’, ‘public distrubance’, ‘assault’ etc.
  3. The number of sentences passed down as a result of retail related violence, abuse or assault. Please break this down, if possible, into the reason(s) for sentences being passed down to criminals. E.g. ‘Assault’.
  4. The number of times panic buttons have been pressed by staff in retail premises, which subsequently led to a police call-out. Please break this down, if possible, into the reasons that the buttons were pressed. E.g. ‘Abusive customer’, ‘Violent Customer’. Etc.

Please can you provide this information for all data available since November 2018, and divided it into monthly totals.

In Response:

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

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) guidelines state that:

A public authority must confirm or deny whether it holds the information requested unless the cost of this alone would exceed the appropriate limit.

I can neither confirm nor deny that the information you require is held by Northumbria Police as to actually determine if it is held would exceed the permitted 18 hours therefore Section 12(2) 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.

I have set out the reasons for this below.

The information requested is not held in a format that would allow its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold.  Initial searches made on the ‘premises’ field for ‘retail’ that had an opening code for ‘violence’ brought back in excess of 6700 results.  Each of those would need to be manually reviewed to establish which, if any, met the criteria at point 1 of your request. This cannot be achieved within 18 hours and has been estimated as taking in excess of 440 hours. The remainder of your questions rely on point 1 being achievable.

To note – we would hold no information at point 3 – sentences are passed by the courts.

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 we have outlined above I see no way in which we can do so.

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