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Financial Losses - 1236/20

Date Responded 29 September 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:

In your financial accounts for the financial year 2019/20 do you have a section for "losses and special payments"?

  1. If so how much money was accounted for in the 2019/2020 financial year as being "losses and special payments"? (Please note l am aware that the loss may have occurred many years earlier but I am interested in items which were accounted for in the last financial year, irrespective or when the loss took place.)
  2. Please detail the three largest single amounts within this total, giving a cost for each loss and a detailed description of the claim and the reason for the loss.

If you do NOT have a losses and special payments section you use the explanation below for what should be included in losses and special payments. I hope this clarifies the issue.

Definition for what are Losses and Special Payments

Categories of Loss:

a)  Loss of cash – due to theft, fraud, arson, neglect of duty or gross careless, overpayment of salary, fees and allowances and other causes including accidents.

b)  Fruitless payments – a fruitless payment can’t be avoided because the recipient is entitled to it, even though the public authority will get nothing in return. In assessing a fruitless payment, there will always be a degree of blame. For example, payment for travel tickets or accommodation that has been wrongly booked.

c)  Bad debts – an individual debtor is a case, not every single invoice.

d)  Damage to buildings, fittings, furniture and equipment – examples of losses under this category are: losses by fire (other than arson) and losses by weather damage, or accident beyond the control of any responsible person.

Categories of Special Payment

e)  Compensation payments made under legal obligation – clear liability under a Court Order or legally binding arbitration award. This includes compensation for injuries to persons, damage to property and unfair dismissal.

f)  Extra contractual payments to contractors – these are payments which are not legally due under the original contract but where there appears to be an obligation which the courts may uphold.

g) Ex-gratia payments – these are payments the public authority is not obliged to make or for which there is no legal liability. Examples of ex-gratia payments are:

i) Loss of personal effects, clinical negligence/personal injury, and settlement on termination of employment,  extra statutory or extra regulationary payments and maladministration cases.

ii) Special Severance Payments – these are paid to employees, contractors and others outside of normal statutory or contractual requirements when leaving employment in public service whether they resign, are dismissed or reach an agreed termination of contract

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with several Department of 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.

 

To establish a response at point d) alone would require approximately 1,600 invoices being manually reviewed, as we do not keep a separate record of weather damage or accident damage, therefore to try to identify this information would require looking into every 2019/20 invoice against the various estates account codes.  Even at a conservative estimate of 10 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 266 hours, therefore Section 12(1) 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.

 

As part of your request would exceed the prescribed limit, as defined by the Act, there is no requirement for Northumbria Police to provide a response to the remaining parts of your request.  However, in order to provide you with some assistance, under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an initial assessment of the information that may be provided within the time constraints would be Questions 1 and 2 (as set out above) with regards to the following points only:

  1. Loss of cash
  2. Bad debts
  3. Compensation payments
  4. Extra contractual payments
  5. Ex-gratia payments ii) Special Severance Payments only

If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly. 

Please note that we do advise that this is the information which may be provided within the time constraints of the act, however it should be noted that this has not been confirmed as searches to retrieve such information have not been conducted due to the application of S12.

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