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Date Responded 29 September 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. Which department or departments are responsible for overseeing legal hearings involving your police force e.g. Legal Services, HR?  If different for criminal and civil hearings, please differentiate.

i)  Please can you provide the name and contact details of the people overseeing this department(s)?

ii)  Within this department(s), please, can you provide the details of staff who are responsible for day-to-day managing of the following legal areas; Commercial Litigation, Crime, Crime-Fraud, Employment, Intellectual Property, Litigation General.

2.  Which department or departments are responsible for managing/supporting staff who are giving evidence at a legal hearing i.e. providing time off to attend court?  If different for criminal and civil hearings, please differentiate

i)  Please can you provide the name and contact details of the people overseeing this department(s)?

3.  In 2018 and 2019, how many civil legal hearings has the force been involved in?  Please differentiate between hearings your force was the claimants/defendants/ respondent/appellant.  Please breakdown where these cases were heard e.g. High court/ Employment tribunal/ arbitration

i)  At these civil hearings, how many staff or officers gave verbal evidence?  Please differentiate between factual witnesses, professional witnesses, and expert witnesses.

4.  In 2018 and 2019, how many Public Inquiry hearings was your force involved in?  In these inquiry hearings, how many staff and officers gave verbal evidence at the hearings?

i)  Please differentiate between factual witnesses, professional witnesses, and expert witnesses.

5.  In 2018 and 2019, how many Coroners inquest hearings was your force been involved in?  

i) In the inquest hearings, how many staff and officers gave verbal evidence?  Please differentiate between factual witnesses, professional witnesses, and expert witnesses.

6.  2018 and 2019, how many criminal hearings was your force been involved in?

i)  At these hearings, how many staff and officers gave verbal evidence.  Please differentiate between factual witnesses, professional witnesses, and expert witnesses.

7.  Please can provide how much money the force has spent on civil legal hearings in 2018 and 2019?

In Response:

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

3-7.  The 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 those points of your request.

I have set out the reasons for this below.

As information regarding the number of civil legal; public Inquiry; coroners inquest and criminal hearings that the legal department have been involved in alone is not held in an easily searchable format a manual search of 497 records would have to undertaken in an attempt to ascertain what information is held, if any, specific to your request.  We have estimated that it would take 20 minutes to search each record, which clearly would be a time consuming task, therefore, the application of the Section 12(2) exemption is relevant.  Additional time would also be required for further searches to be undertake with all other departments/members of staff to ascertain if they hold any details relevant to these parts of your request.

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.

Although excess cost removes Northumbria Police's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied information below, relative to your request, retrieved or available before it was realised that the fees limit would be exceeded.  I trust this is helpful, but it does not affect our legal right to rely on the fees regulations for the remainder of your request.

1.  As the information you have requested at this point 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 those parts 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.

The information regarding Business Directors including the one responsible for Legal Services is freely available via the Northumbria Police website and the link to the relevant page has been provided below.  Contact can be made via the switchboard on 101.

https://beta.northumbria.police.uk/about-us/who-we-are/executive-team/

2.  No information held.  We have no such department.

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