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River Drowning Deaths - 1020/19

Date Responded 21 August 2019

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:

I would like to know, in the past ten calendar years (2008, 2009 etc, up until 2018), how many people have died specifically from drowning in a river. I would like this data to be split up into the following age categories: Under 18, 18-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 and 80+.

In Response:

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

This information is not held in a format that allows its locating and extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold, as there is no single way of identifying incidents where death has occurred in water sources.  All incidents recorded as ‘concern for safety’ would have to be reviewed to see if any met the criteria of this request.  Typically this will average over 40,000 such incidents per year.  Even at a conservative estimate of 3 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 2000 hours per year, therefore 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.  Further time would then be required to establish/collate the information into the age groups specified.

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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