Date Responded 16 March 2023

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. Does your force have an active Black Police Association or similar for black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) members of your workforce?

2. What is it called?

3. How many officers, support staff and PCSOs do you have?

4. How many of those are BAME workforce (officers, support staff and PCSOs)?

5. How many current Attendance Management cases do you have? (Force compared to BAME)?

6. How many current Complaints do you have? (Force compared to BAME)?

7. How many current Disciplinary cases do you have where regulation 21 notices have been served to attend a misconduct meeting/hearing? (Force compared to BAME)?

8. How many current Employment Tribunals do you have, regardless of type of complaint? (Force compared to BAME)?

9. How many current Grievances do you have, regardless of type of complaint? (Force compared to BAME)?

10. How many current Incapability/capability cases do you have? (Force compared to BAME)?

11. How many current Regulation procedures (Misconduct and Gross Misconduct) do you have? (Force compared to BAME)?

12. How many current Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures Tribunals do you have, or equivalent? (Force compared to BAME)?

13. What local plans do you have to implement the Police Race Action Plan developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing?

14. What grade, pay scale or band is your most senior BAME police staff? What is their gender?

After we sought clarity on what exactly was meant at point 12 you advised:

12. This a request for numbers of Police Officers currently being managed under the UPP (Performance) procedures at the final stage, where a conference / Tribunal is scheduled or being held, and dismissal is an option.

In Response:

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

1-4. As the information you have requested at these points 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 those parts of 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.

Points 1 & 2 can be found by searches of the Northumbria Police website - Support associations : Northumbria Police.
Point 3 can be found on the about us page of the Northumbria Police website - About us : Northumbria Police
Point 4 is published within the Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020: ethnicity open data tables

With regards to points 5 – 12 the following exemptions have been considered and applied .
Section 40 (2) - Personal Information
Section 40 (2) is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in disclosure. That being said where Section 40(2) is engaged in order to make the exemption absolute there needs to be evidence that a data protection principle would be breached by disclosure. In this case it would not be fair to process information which, we believe by providing all the information you have requested, could lead to the identification of an individual. Therefore the first principle of the Data Protection Act would be breached.
Section 31 - Law Enforcement (1)(g) by virtue of s(b).
Section 31 is a qualified and prejudice based exemption and therefore the legislators accept that there may be harm if released into the public domain. The authority has to consider and describe the harm that would occur if the information were released and carry out a public interest test. I have set these out below. In accordance with best practice, I detail the harm first.

Evidence of Harm
Points 5 – 12 ask for ‘current’ information ie ongoing cases. Should an officer/police staff member be party to any allegations this needs to be investigated appropriately and fairly. Putting such information into the public domain
could jeopardise those investigations and consequently impact on Law Enforcement . Any investigations carried out would be for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper. This cannot be achieved fairly if information is released into the public domain prior to investigations being complete as those investigations would then be impeded.

Public Interest Test

Section 31 – Factors favouring disclosure

Disclosure would provide transparency in the way police officers and staff members are dealt with when suspected of any instances of perceived misconduct, complaints etc and may improve public debate into the credibility of how Northumbria Police deal with these allegations within the force. It would also serve to demonstrate that Northumbria are open and accountable.

Section 31 – Factors favouring non disclosure.

To publish what information is held in such instances would risk undermining the law enforcement process whilst determining whether any member of staff is responsible for improper conduct; including whether or not an allegation of this nature is upheld. This would have an impact on the process of determining whether the allegations are founded/not founded and could therefore impact on the whole process of law enforcement and jeopardise those proceedings.

Balancing Test

The points above highlight the merits of disclosure/non disclosure . The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. As part of that policing purpose, investigations need to be carried out fairly. Putting information into the public domain that could have an impact on the law enforcement process in any way would undermine the effective delivery of that process.

Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of investigations particularly in relation to Northumbria Polices own police officers and staff members, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding those investigations and ensuring the appropriate outcome is achieved. As much as there is a public interest in knowing that investigations into allegations against its own police officers and staff is appropriate and balanced it will only be considered for disclosure in exceptional circumstances and when the integrity of those instances is not disrupted.

13. Northumbria Police have been working on a local Race Action plan during 2022 in line with the National Race action Plan. There is a senior officer leading the Plan internally and ongoing work with the leads of the National Plan, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Compliance Oversight Plan (COP). The Northumbria Race Action Plan has been expanded to represent our community in the North East to include Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and staff.

Internally the Harm Reductions and Communities Team alongside the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE+I) Team are delivering the plan and all four of the elements; Respected, Protects, Involved and Represented. The plans range from evaluating current working practices, reviewing relevant training for all staff, assessing the impact of our community engagement and implementing new processes.

Our Northumbria Police Ethnic Minority Association have been involved with all work we have done for the Race Action Plan. We have now also set up regular meetings with reps from all staff support associations to discuss the plan.

14. Band 10 - Male and female staff members are on this band.

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