Big cat sightings - 407/18

Date Responded 03 May 2018

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:

Could you please disclose details of all the reported 'big cat' sightings in your area since the start of 2015 up to todays date.

For each incident, please disclose the report as it was made to the police (i.e. 'A man reported that he spotted what he thinks was a tiger on Newcastle's Town Moor)

To help search, please use the following key terms: 'Big Cat', 'Lion, 'Panther', 'Lynx', Jaguar' 'Wild Cat' 'Large Animal' 'Tiger' 'Wild Cat'

For each report, please disclose:

* The postcode/street the sighting was made

* If police recovered the animal

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 however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.

The information requested is not held in a format that can be retrieved within the permitted time allowed.  An initial scan using the keywords you supplied shows that there were 1541 incidents and from those there was a high incidence of ‘Tiger’, which brought up ‘Tiger Tiger’, an eatery in Newcastle and there was a high incidence of Jaguar, which brought up the motor vehicle and also a high incidence of Lynx, which relates to the deodorant of that name.  To narrow those down to be meaningful to your request, ie big cat sightings, would require a manual review of all of those incidents.  Even at a conservative estimate of 2 minutes per record, which we have considered as a reasonable minimum,  we have estimated that to extract this information would take well over the permitted 18 hours, therefore 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 meaningful way in which we can do so.

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