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Big Cat Sightings - 1120/20

Date Responded 18 August 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:

I am seeking information relating to reports of  ‘big cats’ in your force area.  The information I am seeking is the number of such reports and a brief summary of each report.

I use the term ‘big cat’ to describe any non-indigenous large feline which may be loose in the countryside of the UK, from the year 2016 to the present day; more specific search terms could include "panther", "leopard", "puma" or "lynx".

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within 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 with the below noted.

  • Data has been gathered from the Incidents table of the central database via free text search using the phrases provided in your submission – those being, "big cat," "panther", "leopard," "puma" and "lynx."
  • Note that its only possible to  search the first three lines of the incident text; if a search term appeared at a later point in the incident it would not be included.  This would also not account for mis-spellings or any other similar terms that might be used in recording such an incident.
  • Descriptions are as of the caller communication with the police, ie how it was reported to the police and not based on any actual record made by an Officer.

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.

With all the above in mind I can advise the following.

Creature believed to be a panther spotted in urban area


Creature believed to be a panther spotted, retreated into woodland


Creature believed to be a lynx spotted by caller in urban area



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