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Social Media Drug Selling - 176/20

Date Responded 03 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. On how many occasions was your police force contacted by the company Snapchat, or a representative acting on behalf of the company, to report content on their service involving or promoting the sale or use of illegal drugs during a) 2019; b) 2018; c) 2017;
  2. On how many occasions did this lead to a prosecution taking place in each of these years?
  3. On how many occasions was your police force contacted by the company Instagram, or a representative acting on behalf of the company, to report content on their service involving or promoting the sale or use of illegal drugs during a) 2019; b) 2018; c) 2017;
  4. On how many occasions did this lead to a prosecution taking place in each of these years?
  5. On how many occasions was your police force contacted by the company Facebook, or a representative acting on behalf of the company, to report content on their service involving or promoting the sale or use of illegal drugs during a) 2019; b) 2018; c) 2017;
  6. On how many occasions did this lead to a prosecution taking place in each of these years?
  7. On how many occasions was your police force contacted by the company TikTok, or a representative acting on behalf of the company, to report content on their service involving or promoting the sale or use of illegal drugs during a) 2019; b) 2018; c) 2017;
  8. On how many occasions did this lead to a prosecution taking place in each of these years?
  9. On how many occasions was your police force contacted by the company Twitter, or a representative acting on behalf of the company, to report content on their service involving or promoting the sale or use of illegal drugs during a) 2019; b) 2018; c) 2017;
  10. On how many occasions did this lead to a prosecution taking place in each of these years?

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, if held, is not held in any format that can be extracted within the permitted 18 hour time constraints.  Contact call be made to the force by a number of methods, ie phone calls, e mail, letters,  and to a number of departments, to individual officers, or via our call takers in the Communications Centre. All those methods would need to be reviewed to establish if any communication specific to your request had been received.  This cannot be achieved within 18 hours therefore Section 12 is relevant.

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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