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Correspondence - 1324/19

Date Responded 07 November 2019

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:

Please would you let me know in writing if you hold information of the following description:

Records of communications between:

On the one hand, the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constables and

On the other hand, the Police & Crime Commissioner

Between January 5 2017 and March 31 2019.

Please may I see the information.

In Response:

Upon receipt of your submission, in an attempt to assist and hopefully avoid the application of exemptions,  we invited you to be more specific as to the nature of the correspondence you were looking for, rather than fishing for anything of interest that may be revealed.  We could then focus our attention on the subject matter you are interested in rather than a cover all request, and hopefully avoid another potential Section 12 refusal, as per your previous substantially similar submission. 

It is noted that you have not taken up our suggestion and asked that a response to your original request, as above, was provided, and accordingly this is as below.

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

To note this request is almost identical to your previous request, FOI 1153/19, and to which you received a response to on the 28 October 2019, and therefore will be aggregated due to cost/time considerations.

Again the considerations for retrieval remain the same as FOI 1153/19, however to avoid doubt we have again outlined the limitations of our searches.

To establish a response to this request would require each of the individuals outlined in your request above to search their emails to ascertain what had been sent to the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner.  Additionally it would involve the retrieval of deleted emails from servers in an attempt to locate emails that fit the parameters of your request.  It has been estimated that this exercise would take far in excess of 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.

Additionally as per our response to your previous request 1153/19, it should be noted that the Information Commissioner offers guidance for requestors when formulating and submitting FOI requests.  The ICO specifically recommends that members of the public should not use FOI to “fish” for information by submitting a very broad or random request in the hope that it will catch something noteworthy or otherwise useful.  Requests should be directed towards obtaining information on a particular issue rather than relying on chance to see if anything of interest is revealed.  Accordingly had Section 12 of the Act not been applicable, other exemptions would have been given further consideration (Section 14 – Vexatious request) when assessing this request.

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