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.
The number of people arrested within your force area over the last 12 months for
2. violent offences and
3. other dangerous offences
and whom disclosed having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder upon arrest and/or at the time of their detention in custody being authorised AND were charged with a criminal offence.
In an attempt to clarify and make our request clear, I can confirm that the disclosure request relates to those individuals who have declared or it has been established that they have or are on the Autistic Spectrum in some capacity.
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.
There is no way to establish if any arrested person had disclosed they had an Autistic Spectrum Disorder upon arrest without reviewing each instance of arrest for the time period requested. There were over 20,000 violent and sexual offences recorded in the time period 01/08/2019 to 31/07/2020. Each of these would require a manual review to establish if at any point of arrest a person had declared having ASD. Even at a conservative estimate of 3 minutes per record, this has been estimated as exceeding 1000 hours, therefore S12(2) is applicable.
Its not known what you refer to by ‘other dangerous offences’, however this would just add further to the time anyway, as would a check of custody records to establish if anything was held there.
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.