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Firearms licensing - 131/18

Date Responded 15 February 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:

For the years 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 please can you provide the following information 

1. How many gun licence applications did your police force receive for each of the years above?

2. How many of these applications were granted as successful

3. How many of these applications were for firearms?

4. How many of these applications were for shotguns?

5a. The cost of a gun license

5b. The total cost of the firearms licensing department for your police force

6. How much income did you receive - in total - from applicants to pay for the cost of the license?

7. How much did your police force have to pay to cover the total cost of gun licence applications?

In Response:

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

 In relation questions 1 to 4 for the years 2015/2016 and 2016/2017.

 As the information you have requested is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request.

 I have provided an explanation to this exemption below. 

Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means

Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.

 This information is freely available via the www.gov.uk website under the heading for Statistics and I have provided the relevant link for you below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/firearms

In relation to questions 1 to 4 for the year 2017/2018, the following exemption applies.

Section 22

Information not already published is going to be in the future therefore the below exemption is relevant for those parts.

Section 22(1)(a) - Information Intended for future publication

(1) Information is exempt information if -

(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not),

(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time the request for information was made, and

(c) it is reasonable in all circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph.

 This exemption requires us to apply a Public Interest Test to decide if the information you require should be released ahead of the future publication of that data.

 Public Interest Test

 Factors Favouring Disclosure:-

Disclosure of information for the 2017/18 period would enable the public to be better informed of such information, as this enables more accurate and relevant public comment and debate to take place.

 Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure:-

The exemption engaged in this case specifically requires us to simply look at the public interest in delaying the release of information that will automatically be disclosed in the future.  To repeat those activities in response to Freedom of Information requests would not be an efficient use of resources and finance, specifically in the current economic climate.

 Balance Test

Section 22 exemption was specifically created to reduce the burden on public authorities when responding to Freedom of Information requests and to now provide the data rather than await the publication date would incur additional expense and would not have a significant bearing on informed public debate.

 Decision

Therefore, At this time, the public interest is met by the scheduled publication of this data, as outlined above, therefore we see no benefit to the early disclosure of these figures.

 5a, Information with regards to the current and previous costs associated with Firearms Licensing is publically available which can be obtained via this link https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-office-announces-increase-in-firearms-licensing-fees

 5b No information held.  Force budgets are not devolved by Department.

 6  For the years requested the income received for all gun and explosive licences was as follows;

          

Year

Amount

2017/18 as at 31/12/17

     102,143

2016/17

     179,429

2015/16

     167,040

 

7. No information held. The specific costs in relation to gun licence applications is not collated.

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