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Apps & Chatbots To Communicate With Public - 795/21

Date Responded 29 June 2021

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. What apps or chatbots does your force use to communicate with the public?

2. Can the app/chatbot be considered "smart" (obtaining natural language understanding, natural language generation and machine learning engines)?

3. If you do not make use of "smart" technology, what is your reasoning behind this decision?

4. Are these chatbots/apps used within third party applications or websites, such as Facebook?

5. Which service providers develop, deliver and/or maintain these apps/chatbots?

6. How much has been spent on this app/chatbot since the contract began?

7. What is the duration of the contract and has it been extended?

8. Please share any evaluation, review or report of the use of application or chatbot.

9. Please indicate how these chatbots or apps contribute to public confidence.

10. Please share the most recent force-level (NOT national level) document relating to how the force plans to gain or improve public confidence.

11. Please share any official protocol or guidance for the use of the app or bot.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the various Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, in part, by Northumbria Police.

I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.

1–9 & 11. No information held. We currently do not use any apps (a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone, tablet, or watch) or chatbots (a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet) in Force in order to communicate with the public. With regards to point 3 specifically please note that this is not recorded information.

10. As the information you have requested at this point is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You should therefore consider this a refusal for this part of your request.

I have provided an explanation to this exemption below.

Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means

Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.

A response to this point can be found on the Northumbria Police website via simple search for ‘engagement strategy’.

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