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.
1a) How many of your vehicles were destroyed (by destroyed I mean damaged beyond economic repair) in 2019/20 following any kind of road traffic accident?
1b) What was the make and model of the most expensive vehicle that was written off?
2a) What was the total cost of this damage to your service because of the accidents referred to in Q.1?
2b) If you were insured and suffered no direct cost other than through your insurance premiums, please provide me with a figure for the total value of those vehicles when written off.
3a) In the 2019/20 financial year, how many claims of compensation were paid to members of the public who were injured in a collision involving one of your vehicles?
3b) What was the total amount of the compensation? Please note that members of the public could be a passenger in your vehicle, a pedestrian or the driver/passenger in another vehicle.
Note: The question relates to the date the claim was paid irrespective of when the accident took place or when the claim was made.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the relevant Departments of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
1b) A response to this part will not be provided and by doing so we rely on the following exemption.
Certain vehicle details, ie make and model of covert/ARVs are not put into the public domain and on this occasion this exemption is applicable to this part of the request .
Section 31(1) - Law Enforcement
Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in providing that information as well as carrying out a public interest test.
To provide details regarding covert/AR vehicles would cause harm as, once identified, those vehicles could be targeted thus placing the occupants at risk and the possibility that Policing would be undermined as offenders will gain knowledge about the covert/AR vehicles owned by the force and therefore use that knowledge to avoid detection or target those particular vehicles. This would reveal policing tactics and so compromise investigations and any law enforcement strategies. This would be to the detriment of providing an efficient policing service and a failure in providing a duty of care to both members of staff and to the public at large.
Factors Favouring Disclosure
By disclosing what vehicles we have to enable us to carry out policing activities would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent, and allow them to be better informed.
Factors Against Disclosure
Any information which would lead to the identity of covert/ARVs would compromise law enforcement tactics which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime. More crime would be committed and individuals would be placed at risk, which would impact on police resources. Those vehicles could then be identified, ie vehicles that would be carrying weapons, and may then be specifically targeted. This would have a massive impact on the safety of both officers and the general public.
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. The security of the public is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge information if to do so would place the safety of individuals at risk or undermine law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the police service is appropriately carrying out its duties, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both law enforcement and the integrity of police investigations and operations. We have therefore concluded that to release information that would lead to the identity of covert/AR vehicles would lead to the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders and the administration of justice.
Fleet list are often asked for and disclosed. Such vehicles are made exempt in those lists. To exempt in this instance is in line with the exemptions applied to those requests. This ensures consistency and the safeguarding of any information that may be useful to the criminal/terrorist fraternities.
It is therefore our opinion that for these issues the balance lies in favour of non-disclosure of this particular part of your request.
2a) The actual cost to our force of the accidents in 2019/20, using the standard accounting practices, is £79,167
The basis of these costs are the written off net book values held in the Force’s asset register at the last balance sheet dated (31 March 2019) prior to the date the accident occurred. To this is added any claims costs actually incurred. The actual cost may not reflect the final total cost to the Force as there are a number of claims not settled such that any additional third party costs are not available at this time.
Please note that the total Net Book Value (NBV) has been used here, which means that where the vehicle was more than 2.5-3 years old the NBV is nil. This is the case for all but 5 of the vehicles. Where there is a value listed it represents the value held in the latest Asset Register. However, it should be noted that these values are calculated for accounting purposes, and on an individual vehicle basis. NBV at the last balance sheet date does not necessarily represent the actual value of a particular vehicle - it is simply the value held on the balance sheet under our depreciation policy for that asset type.
2b. N/A as total costs available included in 2a above.
With regard to points 3 the, it should be noted that these figures may be inaccurate. There are some payments where its not possible to identify whether they were injury damages or some other type of damage (vehicle repairs for example).
If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would expect that you to take into consideration the factors highlighted above so as not to mislead members of the public or official bodies or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.