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Forensic Analysis - 1221/19

Date Responded 23 October 2019

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. In the last 5 years, how many times has the forensic analysis of flooring at a crime scenes been conducted?
  2. If yes to question 1, please provide details of how many of these flooring types were carpet?
  3. Of the carpet numbers that you noted in answer 2, please could you detail any carpet types and structural details that were captured, e.g. synthetic, natural, wool, polypropylene and tufted, non-tufted and numbers of each.
  4. If a carpet was examined, was a search for blood conducted and how many times?
  5. If the answer to question 4 was positive and blood was detected on the carpet, how often was blood pattern analysis conducted?

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.

The information you are seeking is not held in a format that allows its extraction within the 18 hour time limit.  Tens of thousands of exhibits will have been seized by the force over the last 5 years.  To establish whether an exhibit was flooring/carpet would require each record to be manually reviewed to establish if it had been recorded as such.  If it had not been recorded, a physical check of the item would then be required, if that item was still held.  This exercise cannot be achieved within the permitted 18 hours, even for a considerably shorter time period, and therefore Section 12 is applicable.

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