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Rough sleepers - 393/18

Date Responded 02 May 2018

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:

How many deaths of people who were sleeping rough were recorded in the police force area in each of the following calendar years, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017?

Please provide a breakdown for each of the years of the number of deaths by location (local authority area) as well as the gender, age, and cause of death, if known.

 

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.

To answer this FOI, we would need to review all deaths reported to Northumbria Police between 2008 - 2017 to establish if the person was sleeping rough. This will include all reports of sudden as well as all murder and manslaughter crimes. Between Jan and Dec 2017, there were in excess of 3500 incidents closed as a ‘sudden death’. The incident/crime log for each of these would have to be manually reviewed to establish if the person had been sleeping rough at the time of death, and then to establish a response as to age, gender and cause.  Even at a conservative estimate of 3.5 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 204 hours.  Further time would then be required to compile any extracted data into local authority areas as per your submission. 

As this request would far exceed the permitted time threshold  Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act is applicable.  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.

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