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Firearms Deployments - 489/18

Date Responded 12 June 2018

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. Since 22/05/17 to 11/05/18 How many armed deployments have there been where it has turned out there was: 
  2. (A) No terror threat

(B) No person present with a firearm and or weapon that could cause really serious injury including suicide vest and/or explosives, and/or component parts of either 

Definition of  Firearm 

For the purposes of this FOI firearm is defined as anything that is considered by police as a lethal option including baton round and TAZERS only to find out it was an imitation firearm. 

  1. Since 22/05/17 to 11/05/18 How many times have the Armed police be sent to incidents involving children where firearms have been drawn including baton rounds and TAZERS and after investigation, children have been in found to be in possession of Imitation Firearms shop brought firearms 

For the purposes of this FOI A  child is defined as a person between 5 and 16yrs 

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 the Operations 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. 

With regards to point 1

We can neither confirm nor deny any information is held at this part of your request and in doing so rely on the following exemptions.

Section 31 (3) Law Enforcement

Section 24(2) National Security

Section 24 and Section 31 are qualified exemptions and as such there is a requirement to evidence any harm confirmation or denial that any other information is held as well as consider the public interest. 

Overall Harm for Section 24 and Section 31

To confirm or deny that any information held relating  to point 1 of your request  would undermine individual forces policing capabilities which consequently would be detrimental to their ability to deal with such instances in the future. By providing any indication that such offences had been reported or investigated would allow comparison between forces across the country.  It is felt that confirmation or denial that this information is held would prejudice the effectiveness of forces  and would allow inferences to be drawn about force level ability or activity and identify perceived vulnerability around the country. 

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by confirming or denying that this information is held would allow the public to see where money is being spent and know that forces are doing as much as they can to combat any such offences 

Factors favouring neither confirming or denying for S24

To confirm or deny that this information is held would render security measures less effective which would compromise ongoing or future operations to protect the security and infrastructure of the UK. The risk of harm to the public would be elevated if areas of the UK which appear vulnerable were identified which would also provide the opportunity for terrorist planning. Ongoing or future operations to protect the security and infrastructure of the UK would be compromised as terrorists could map the level of such activity across the country, providing them with the knowledge of individual force capability as well as valuable knowledge concerning the vulnerability of individual force areas. 

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31

To confirm or deny that this information is held would make members of the public more aware of the threat of certain offences and the forces ability to deal with them.. Improved public awareness may lead to more intelligence being submitted to police about possible further instances of firearms use and any acts of perceived  terrorism as members of the public will be more observant to suspicious activity which in turn may result in a reduction of crime. 

Factors favouring neither confirming or denying of S31

To confirm or deny that the requested information is held could compromise law enforcement tactics which would hinder the Police force's ability to prevent and detect  crimes. Whilst such information on its own may be perceived as not harmful, any further information that may be already in the public domain or any that may be asked for in the future could be detrimental to forces.  The threat of terrorism will increase as more crimes are committed as a result of terrorists gaining knowledge about what resources may or may not be held by the force.  A fear of crime will be realised as those with intent to do so could  identify vulnerable areas and target and exploit these areas resulting in the public being in fear of more terrorist activity occurring. There would be an impact on police resources from confirming or denying that reports to police have been made, what they may have entailed and the location of the call to police as vulnerable forces may need to increase their resources to reassure and protect the surrounding community. 

Balance Test 

To confirm or deny that any such information is held or not held would start to indicate levels of policing activity at force level which could allow individuals to exploit what may be considered as less active or resourced areas, by assessing patterns of police activity and ultimately to avoid detection.

The security of the country is of paramount importance. The police will not divulge any information that would place the safety of officers or the public  at risk or undermine national security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing, and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat of activity involving weapons, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations.  It is not in the best interests of the security of the country, individual forces or the public in general to put such information into the public arena where it could be used by those wishing to cause harm to identify target areas for their activity.  We can see no positive reason for us to do so. 

Police force's capabilities of combating offences involving weapons, which could include terrorism are sensitive issues of intelligence value to the terrorist and therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying that this information is held, not made out. 

However, this should not be taken as necessarily indicating that any information that would meet your request exists or does not exist.

With regards to point 2 I can respond as below 

There have been no such incidents 

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