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Date Responded 16 March 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:

I am sending this request under the Freedom of Information Act to ask for the following information regarding disclosure in criminal cases: 

1. a) Will your force have appointed a dedicated disclosure champion by 28.02.18?

    b) If so, what rank is this officer? 

2. a) Does your force have a dedicated digital forensic unit? By this we mean a team dedicated to investigating and advising on evidence with a digital element including computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices capable of holding electronic data.

    b) If so, what month and year did this unit begin operation?

    c) If so, how many staff (FTE) currently work in the unit? 

3. a) Does your force outsource digital forensic work to a private company? If not, has your force done so in the past?

    b) If your force currently does, which private company/s does the force outsource to?

    c) If your force has done so in the last ten calendar years, but has now stopped, please state which company/s you outsourced to and over what period. 

4. a) Please state the number of cases in which there was a suspected failure to disclose evidence, which has been referred to your forces professional standards directorate, from January 1st 2017 to date. Please provide a breakdown by month.

    b) Of these cases, please state the number that are still currently being investigated.

    c) Of these cases, please state the number that involved digital non-disclosure.

    d) Of these cases, how many were offences of rape? How many were other sexual offences? 

In Response:

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

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Crime 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 as follows. 

  1. a) Yes

b)  Detective Superintendent. 

  1. a) Yes

b) 2002 (no month data)

c) 24 FTE

3.

     a) No

     b) N/A

     c) N/A 

4. With regards to this point we have considered and applied the following exemption

a)

b)

c)

d) 

We shall neither confirm nor deny any information is held at this point and in doing so will rely on the below. 

Section 31(3) - Law Enforcement 

Harm in confirming or denying

To cite an exemption confirms that information is held, conversely to state ‘no information held’, confirms that there are currently none being investgiated To confirm or deny that information is held at this point would undermine any investigations and therefore could impact on Law Enforcement. 

Factors favouring confirming or denying that information is held S31

The confirmation or denial that information is held would lead to a greater informed public both nationally and locally. Dependant on whether information is held, would identify whether there are any such issued and how extensive that may or may not be. 

Factors against confirming or denying that information is held S31

To confirm or deny that information is held, would undermine any local or national level investigation that may be or will be taking place.  To confirm or deny whether Northumbria Police has any such instances ongoing would have an impact on those investigation, which may or may not be taking place covertly.  It is imperative that investigations are not hindered or jeopardised is any way that may harm the functions of ensuring Law Enforcement. 

Balance Test

There is a public interest in knowing instances of cases in which there was a suspected failure to disclose evidence and which had subsequently been referred to the Professional Standards Department. However such information would not be considered for release if it prejudiced any investigation that would lead to Law Enforcement. 

It is therefore our belief that the balance test lies in neither confirming nor denying that the requested information is held. 

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