Cases Not Investigated - 1075/20

Date Responded 28 July 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. How many new cases have been reported to your force since February 2020?
a. If possible, please can the number of cases be broken down by category? E.g. road traffic incidents where damage has been sustained to vehicles or property.

2. How many new cases reported to your force in that same time period have not been investigated because of coronavirus?
a. If possible, please can the number of cases be broken down by category? E.g. road traffic incidents where damage has been sustained to vehicles or property.

We asked for clarification re “cases reported” and you responded with the following:

“Basically, by cases I mean incidents reported to your force.
What I am hoping to show is to what extent coronavirus has meant that police have been unable to investigate potential crimes (I presume because of a lack of resource and that your officers have been having to focus on other things to help the country during the pandemic). E.g. if someone reports a low level mugging, has that been investigated and subsequently potentially recorded as a crime in the usual way, or just logged as a report and police have had to say they are unable to investigate it further.
So perhaps - what reports the police had received where they have not been able to investigate to the "normal" extent?”


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.

To establish a response to point 2 would require all incidents & crimes reported in the time period requested to be manually reviewed to establish the reasons it had been closed, ie if it had been recorded that investigations had not been carried out due to Covid – 19 .
For the time period requested this would entail in excess of 210,000 reports being reviewed, and this exercise cannot be achieved within the permitted 18 hour threshold. Section 12(2) is therefore relevant.

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 question 1 only.

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

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