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Mobile Fingerprint Technology - 1130/20

Date Responded 02 September 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:

Please provide the following information about your force’s use of mobile biometric technology for the periods between April 2019 and the end of March 2020; if you do not hold this information for the whole length of the period stated above, please provide it for the period starting from the date you began recording the information:

  1. The number of times the mobile biometrics devices were used.
  2. The following information about each search: which database was searched (Police [IDENT1] or Immigration [IABS]) or both), date, reason for fingerprinting, officer defined ethnicity, self defined ethnicity, PNC search location, response (i.e. whether the search returned a record. If so, please specify which database the record was returned from).
  3. How many times was Command & Control contacted following a search.
  4. If your force does not currently use mobile biometric scanners, please state if there are plans to adopt the use of the devices, and if yes on what date.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within 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 is not held in a format that allows its extraction within the permitted time constraints.  Northumbria Police currently have the devices on a pilot trial from the Met.  The devices belong to them and as such, update their systems.  We are not obliged to seek that data from the Met just to satisfy a request made under FOIA.  The process is that every time the device is used, a number is produced.  The only legal requirement is that officers record this number in their pocket note book, this can then be checked/audited by the Met if needed.  Officers were advised to also record names, dob and addresses of subjects.  To establish what is held on our systems or in officers pocket note books would entail contacting every officer trained in the use of the device and ask them to check their PNBs for searches they have done to get the information requested.  Currently we have 52 officers trained, and we have estimated at least 30 mins per officer to perform the required checks and respond, which exceeds the permitted 18 hours.  As we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 18 hours,  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.

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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