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.
Since 2010 and including this year to date,
1. the number of reports of alleged wildlife crime made to your Force. Where possible, in each case please provide a breakdown of the following:
a. month / year
b. type of wildlife crime (e.g. illegal tree felling / persecution of badger / raptor etc – please be as specific as possible)
c. source of the report (e.g. local authority, member of public)
d. region of the Force
2. the number of investigations into alleged wildlife crime carried out by your Force – and their outcome / what action taken? (e.g. NFA, caution, passed to Forestry Commission, passed to CPS, etc.)
Where possible please provide the same breakdown as above.
3. The number of prosecutions for alleged wildlife crime taken forward by your Force and their outcome (e.g. prosecution not taken forward by CPS, prosecution resulted in acquittal / conviction etc.)
Where possible, please provide the same breakdown as above.
4. the number of Wildlife Officers in your Force.
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 however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.
The information you are requesting is not held in a format that allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold. The scope of this submission is huge, covering as it does a large number of offences under many different Acts of Parliament and Regulations and over a ten year time span. “Wildlife crime” covers the likes of poaching in all forms with offences under a number of poaching acts, fish poaching under the Theft Act, deer poaching under the Deer Act, and even Hunting under the Hunting Act. Additionally there are other offences against animals and birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act, the Habitats Regulations - to check for all such offences and then break them down as required take far in excess of 18 hours and had been estimated as weeks of work as opposed to 18 hours, therefore Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act is applicable. 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.
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.
Although excess cost removes Northumbria Police's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied information below, relative to point 4 of your request, retrieved or available before it was realised that the fees limit would be exceeded. I trust this is helpful, but it does not affect our legal right to rely on the fees regulations for the remainder of your request.
4. Northumbria Police has eight Wildlife Crime Officers and a Co-ordinator.