Officers & Staff Political Activity - 804/21

Date Responded 30 June 2021

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. How many complaints has your force received over allegations that police officers or members of police staff have been involved in political activity that is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of their duty. This includes allegations of inappropriate comments made on social media.

2. How many police officers or police staff with your force have been investigated over complaints of involvement in political activity that is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of their duty. This includes allegations of inappropriate comments made on social media.

Please could you provide the information broken down on a calendar yearly basis for the past five years up to the latest data available. 2016 - 2021 inclusive

In Response:

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

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 your request.

I have set out the reasons for this below.

The information requested is not already held statistically, nor is it held in a format that would allow its extraction from recording systems used. There is no filter that would allow extraction of complaints of involvement in political activity that is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of duty and therefore all complaints for the time period requested would need to be manually reviewed to establish if any met the criteria of this submission. This would entail in excess of 4500 records to be manually reviewed, and this cannot be achieved within the permitted 18 hour threshold, even for a one year period. Section 12(2) is therefore applicable.

 

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