Remote Legal Advice & Video Remand Courts - 329/21

Date Responded 08 April 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. Please provide a copy of your force's policy on obtaining informed consent to remote legal advice during the pandemic and assistance in custody, including the date this policy was introduced.

2. Please provide copies of all materials that your force provides to suspects to inform their decision about whether to consent to remote legal advice during the pandemic and assistance in custody, including the date you started providing these materials.

3. Please provide a copy of all training materials and guidance that is provided to officers on obtaining informed consent to remote legal advice and what to do if consent is refused, including the date this training and guidance was first introduced.

4. How many police interviews did your force conduct in July 2020 with (i) children and (ii) vulnerable adults?
a. In how many of those interviews was legal advice and assistance provided remotely?
b. In how many of those interviews did you record whether the individual gave informed consent to receiving that advice and assistance remotely?

5. Please supply the wording of any statement or question in your custody IT system associated with the recording of consent for remote legal advice.

6. What were the total costs incurred by the force (including staff and premises if available) in operating video remand courts from March to December 2020? For how many weeks from March to December 2020 did your force operate video remand courts?

7. What estimate has your force made of the total annual costs for the force should you be required to operate video remand courts in the future even if PECS is given permission to and does operate within police custody?


In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Custody Unit and the Finance 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.
The information requested, where held, is not held in a format that would allow its extraction within the 18 hour threshold. This is particularly relevant at point 4 where in excess of 260 records relating to Youths/Vulnerable adults would need to be manually reviewed to establish a response at points a and b. Even at a conservative estimate of 6 minutes per record, which we have considered as a reasonable minimum, we have estimated that to extract this information alone would take over 26 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 a response to the remaining questions as set out above .

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


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