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Big Cat Sightings - 033/22

Date Responded 24 January 2022

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:

In relation to the 2021 calendar year, on how many occasions were the police informed that there had been a sighting of a ‘big cat’, i.e. a wild cat, which was significantly larger than a domestic cat and was thought could have been a puma, leopard, lynx or other large member of the cat species?

Could you please state how many of the sightings were confirmed to be (a) false, (b) true or (c) unable to be confirmed one way or the other.

In relation to the last three sightings that you logged in 2021, please provide me with a summary of the sighting. This should include (i) what was alleged to have been seen, (ii) the location of the sighting and (iii) what if any police response there was to the sighting.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Corporate Development Department 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 with the following caveats to be noted:

• Searches were carried out for the terms "big cat", "leopard", "puma" and "lynx". These returns then had to be manually reviewed to remove those not relevant this submission, ie those relating to leopard print, ford pumas, puma branded sportswear or lynx antiperspirant.

During the period specified by your request a total of one incident was identified. The caller reported seeing a leopard, possibly with two cubs, in their back garden. Officers attended and confirmed to the caller that there was no such animal present.

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.


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