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Missing Persons - 349/20

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  Does your force have a method of recording whether or not a missing person has settled immigration status and/or is an asylum seeker?

2  Does your force have a formal policy in place in relation to how missing persons who do not have settled immigration status are recorded on the Police National Computer, or on your force missing person database, upon reaching the age of 18 (for example, where an unaccompanied asylum seeking child is reported at the age of 16, and they are still missing when turn 18. Does their "status" change, and if so how?) yes / no / I’m not sure;

a  If the answer to question 2 is yes, please disclose the name of the policy and outline how long it has been in force;

Please provide us with a copy of the policy;

3  If the answer to questions 2 is no, please explain what most often happens when a missing person who does not have settled immigration status turns 18, including how they are recorded on the Police National Computer or on your force missing persons database.

4  Please could you tell us:

a  The number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children who were reported missing in your force area in 2018/19

b  Since the start of 2016/17, the total number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children who were missing at the time they turned 18

c  How many of the children included in question (b) had their case closed or changed to an immigration enquiry at the age of 18 while still missing

5  Please provide any further relevant information about your force’s policy or practice in relation to missing children who do not have settled immigration status turning 18.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with both the Safeguarding and Corporate Development Departments of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.

The information requested, particularly at all parts of point 4 is not held statistically not is it held in a format that allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold.  To provide a response to these part would require manual reviews of all missing person cases.  This would involve hundreds, if not thousands of records being reviewed.  This cannot be achieved within the 18 hour threshold and accordingly 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.

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  This information would only be added as free text to the Missing Person record if the individual officer recorded it as part of the risk assessment. There is no specific place to record this information or means of extracting.

2  There is currently no force policy.

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