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Digital Device Examination - 269/20

Date Responded 18 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:

I write to request information and records under the FOIA, regarding your force’s rape and serious sexual offences investigations and the policy and practices around the examination of mobile phones and digital devices.

1. Does your force record statistics on the number of rape and serious sexual offences investigations that were opened by your force in the last 12 months? If yes, please provide this.

2. a.Using sample of the first 10 rape investigations of financial year 2018-19, please provide numbers for how many of those investigations involved requests to examine complainants’ i) digital devices; ii) social media accounts or iii) cloud storage.

b. Of those requests, how many were made to complainants who were i) women, ii) men, iii) children under the age of 18.

c. Of those requests to examine i) digital devices; ii) social media accounts or iii) cloud storage, how many did complainants agree to?

d. Of those complainants’ digital device extractions, how many mobile phone or digital device extractions have been Level 1 "logical extraction", Level 2 "logical" or "physical" extraction, or Level 3 extractions (as defined by the National Police Chiefs’ Council Digital Device Extraction and Digital Processing Notices)?

e. Of those requests to examine i) digital devices; ii) social media accounts or iii) cloud storage how many did complainants not agree to?

f. Of those investigations in which complainants of rape and serious sexual offences did not agree to examination of i) digital devices; ii) social media accounts or iii) cloud storage, how many investigations remain open, were closed by police with no further action, or were closed after complainant withdrawal?

3. a. Does your force record data on the time or average time taken for complainants’ of rape and serious sexual offences i) digital devices; ii) social media accounts or iii) cloud storage to be examined?

b. If yes, using the same sample, please provide: The wait times (or an average) for a complainant’s digital device to be subject to technical examination (e.g. for selected data to be extracted from a phone)

c. the current or most recently recorded wait time or average wait time for each level of extraction (Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3)

d. the wait times (or averages) for data from i) digital devices; ii) social media accounts or iii) cloud storage to be fully analysed by the investigating officer.

4. Has a Data Protection Impact Assessment been carried out regarding digital information collection from a) complainants and specifically b) complainants of rape and serious sexual offences?

5. Has an Equality Impact Assessment been carried out regarding digital information collection from a) complainants and specifically b) complainants of rape and serious sexual offences?

In Response:

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 with both the Crime Department of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, in part, by Northumbria Police however we are unable to disclose for the following reasons.

Our response remains the same as per your previous request FOI 1506/19 refers – for the exact same reasons.  The information requested for the first 10 rape investigations of financial year 2018-19 is not held centrally nor is it held in a format that would allow its extraction within the permitted 18 hours.  In order to collect the requested data would entail a manual search of all the CI screens on said crimes to review and extract the data requested.  Searches for items seized and decisions as to what is submitted, when submitted and what searches were asked for etc.  Unfortunately we do not have a quick search of facility and the requested data could be documented in various places if at all on the screens.  As I am sure you can imagine the screens can run into many, many pages and therefore each screen would have to be gone through to establish the information and then repeated 10 times for the numbers requested.  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.

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