Child Welfare - 780/21

Date Responded 22 June 2021

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:

Dates for information request: 1/6/2020-1/6/2021 & (as directed in question 6) 2006-present

1. How many requests/incidences have you had for welfare checks on children by women who have had their children removed by the biological father. If the data is obtainable, how many have of these incidences have had domestic violence reported towards a male perpetrator?

2. How many women have asked for help from the police or, have reported to the police an issue regarding a child, that has been removed by a child’s biological father?

3. How many women have asked for either a civil or enforceable family court order to be enforced?

4. Do the new coercive control measures include the risk of men removing children for no justifiable cause, but to inflict further trauma on the mother? And if not what guidance does the police give to mothers apart from stopping contact?

5. Do officers doing welfare checks and investigating officers dealing with these sorts of situations have guidance on what to do if a child is being removed by someone with previous domestic abuse history and reasonable cause but to coerce the mother? If so what is the guidance for your force?

6. Since 2006 when the law changed to allow both parents parental responsibility if on the birth certificate, has the police found this an increasing problem?

In Response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) guidelines state that:
A public authority must confirm or deny whether it holds the information requested unless the cost of this alone would exceed the appropriate limit.
I can neither confirm nor deny that the information you require is held by Northumbria Police as to actually determine if it is held would exceed the permitted 18 hours therefore Section 12(2) 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.
I have set out the reasons for this below.
Any information, if held, in relation to points 1, 2 & 3 of this submission is not held in a format that would allow its locating, extraction and compilation within the permitted 18 hour threshold.
For the time period 1/6/2020-1/6/2021 alone, in excess of 80,000 concern for safety incidents would need to be reviewed to establish if any met the criteria of your questions above. Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 6666 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 reasonable way in which we can do so at those parts of the submission.

I can advise, in order to assist, that s68 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 should be reviewed as this may offer a response to point 4.
At point 5 police officers would have the power to arrest a person who they had reasonable grounds to suspect was committing an offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in accordance with the circumstances you describe.
With regards to point 6 this question is not compliant with the FOI Act and is therefore not valid. To explain that further, s84 of FOIA relates to recorded information held by a public authority and that it does not extend to providing explanations unless the answers are already held in a recorded form. This is further explained below.
"Information is defined in section 84 of the Act as 'information recorded in any form'. The Act therefore only extends to requests for recorded information. It does not require public authorities to answer questions generally; only if they already hold the answers in recorded form. The Act does not extend to requests for information about policies or their implementation, or the merits or demerits of any proposal or action - unless, of course, the answer to any such request is already held in recorded form." (Day vs ICO & DWP – EA/2006/0069 Final Decision)
We do not therefore hold information at this point.

 

back to top