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.
I would be very grateful for the following information in relation to suspected victims of modern trafficking:
- Annual totals of NRM referrals made to your force in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
- Of the total annual referrals, the number of a) men; b) women.
- Of the total annual referrals, the number of children under 18 years-of-age.
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
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.
Statistics relating to the total number of NRM referrals made are published quarterly by force and grouped by both gender and age. Therefore, Section 21 ‘Information reasonably accessible by other means’ is applicable
Data up to and including Quarter 1 2019, can be found via the following link:
Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 2019 , can be found via the following link:
This is an ongoing publication scheme, and any information not already published that will be published at a future date is exempt under Section 22 ‘Information intended for future publication’
Section 22 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 scheduled report.
Public Interest Test
Factors Favouring Disclosure:-
Disclosure of information not yet published 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. As it is know that this information will be published at a later date, to gather any information prior to the requirement to do so for the next scheduled publication, in order to answer this request would not be an efficient use of resources and finance as it would divert staff from their core duties and would involve a disproportionate use of resources, particularly at this time of economic concerns.
It is acknowledged that both accountability and public awareness are enhanced by the disclosure of this type of information. However, this will be achieved through the publication of the intended information.
The Section 21 and, in this case Section 22 exemptions were specifically laid down by parliament to benefit those authorities who proactively publish information. To constantly produce new and up to date elements of currently published or information intended for future publication in an attempt to satisfy an additional need outside of any scheduled publication would render these exemptions less effective and remove the benefits of proactive publication. For this reason it would be an inappropriate use of resources to carry out further research to satisfy your request.
Therefore, at this time, for the reasons outlined above, the public interest is met by the scheduled publication of this data.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for that part of your request.