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Forensic Science Disciplines - 418/20

Date Responded 24 March 2020

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:

  1. Can you please indicate the number of cases per year where the following evidence types were used:

a) in-house (where the testing was done by police staff on police premises) or

b) outsourced (where the testing was done by a forensic science provider or another external company or individual)?

Can you please provide this data for the past 5 years (2015 through to 2019) for each of the following evidence types?

  1. DNA
  2. Body fluids
  3. Fingerprints
  4. Digital forensics
  5. Marks and traces
  6. Toxicology
  7. Drugs
  8. Fibres
  9. Bloodstain pattern analysis
  10. Clothing/textile damage analysis
  11. Firearms identification
  12. Ballistics
  13. Document analysis
  14. Fire investigations
  15. Firearms discharge residues

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within 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 allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold.

Northumbria Police examine approximately 8000+ crime scenes per year.  This figure does not include direct requests for forensic testing from officers who have not had a scene examination, ie rapes, drug seizures etc.  To establish a response to this submission would require each to be manually reviewed to establish a response to each part of the request.  This exercise cannot be achieved within the 18 hour time frame and indeed has been assessed as taking weeks rather than hours, and as such 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.

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