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Date Responded 06 February 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. How many complaints alleging the transmission of offensive material on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram have you received?
  2. How many of these complaints were deemed to constitute a credible allegation of criminality and were therefore investigated?
  3. How many of these complaints resulted in a prosecution?
  4. How many of these complaints resulted in an alternative disposal under the criminal justice system?
  5. How many of the complaints referred to in question 1 were deemed not to constitute a credible allegation of criminality and were therefore shelved?
  6. How many of the complaints referred to in question 1 resulted in a record of the allegation being kept on your internal computer system?
  7. How many of the complaints referred to in question 1 were disclosed by yourselves in response to a DBS request for information about an individual?

 

After we sought clarity on a number of points in your request you advised:

Time period as data for every year for  each year from 2015 to the most recent year for which the data is available.

By ‘complaint’ I mean a report, made by a member of the public, containing an allegation of criminality.

By ‘shelved’ I mean not proceeded with.

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 centrally nor is it held in a format that allows its extraction within the 18 hour time threshold.

Initial searches of incidents for the current financial year were made for  the keywords "facebook" "twitter" and "instagram".  These searches brought back in excess of 2490 results. Each of those returns would need to be manually reviewed to establish if any related to point 1 of this request, that is complaints alleging the transmission of offensive material.  This cannot be achieved within the allocated 18 hours and has been assessed as far exceeding 124 hours for point 1 for a one year period alone. Significant further time would then be needed to offer a response to the remainder of this submission.

As the remaining questions rely on point being extracted no points of this request can be provided. Section 12 is therefore applicable.

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 reasonable way in which we can do so.

 

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