Crimes - 933/16
Dated: 29 Sep 2016
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
Thank you for your e mail dated 22 August 2016 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
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.
1. Number of Organised Crime Groups currently active in your policing area.
2. Number of Organised Crime Groups currently active in your Policing area with Albanian links.
Number of Albanians charged with the following offences since 2010:
3. All drugs offences
4. Human trafficking offences
5. Firearms offences.
Can I also request figures for ALL PERSONS arrested / charged for these specific offence types 3 - 5 for the same time parameters – since 2010.
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Crime and Corporate Development Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
Section 1 of the Freedom of information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at s1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified within a request is held. The second duty at s1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of the FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact, b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) state (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that any information is held relevant to this request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain Security Bodies
Section 30(3) Investigations
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to evidence the harm or consider the public interest with regard to ensuring that information exists is the appropriate response.
Sections 30 is a class based qualified exemption and there is a requirement to consider the public interest in ensuring neither confirming nor denying that information exists is appropriate.
Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption and there is a requirement to articulate the prejudice (harm) confirming or denying information exists as well as considering the public interest.
Overall harm in confirming or denying that information is held
Any release under the Freedom of Information Act is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request. To confirm or not that information is held relating to ‘live’ investigations into organised crime groups with Albanian links would be inappropriate. The impact of confirming or denying that information is held has potential to undermine ongoing investigations. This could in turn lead to police officers having to be removed from their frontline duties and diverted to policing organised crime groups.
It is publicly acknowledged that the National Crime Agency is a new crime fighting agency with national and international lead and the mandate and powers to work in partnership with other law enforcement organisations to bring the full weight of the law to bear in cutting serious and organised crime, which would include human trafficking for sexual exploitation, child sexual exploitation, drugs, money laundering, etc., see below link:
In order to counter criminal offending it is vital that the police have the ability to work together, where necessary covertly, to ensure the successful arrest and prosecution of offenders who commit or plan to commit offences.
In order to achieve this goal, it is vitally important that information sharing takes place between police officers, members of the public, police forces as well as other security law enforcement bodies within the United Kingdom.
To confirm or deny whether information is held would be extremely useful to those involved in organised criminal gangs as it would enable them to geographically map where the police are currently carrying out investigations into the this type of offending against individuals.
Public Interest Considerations
Section 30 – Investigations
Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) – confirming information is held
Confirmation that information is held would highlight in this case that all allegations of this type of crime are investigated in order to apprehend and prosecute offenders.
In addition, confirming or denying that information exists relevant to this request would lead to a better informed public in relation to the investigations into organised crime groups that Northumbria Police initiates, which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to assist with the investigations and reduce crime. Confirmation or denial would highlight where police resources are being targeted and the public are entitled to know how public funds are spent, particularly in the current economic climate.
Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) – neither confirming nor denying that information is held
Confirmation or denial that information is held in this case may suggest that Northumbria Police takes its responsibility to appropriately handle and manage investigations into organised crime groups flippantly. To disclose where these investigations are being undertaken to the world would serious undermine the prevention or detection of crime and the force’s future law enforcement capabilities.
Section 31 – Law Enforcement
Factors favouring complying with Section 1(1)(a) confirming that information is held
Confirmation that information exists relevant to this request would lead to a better informed public which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in order to reduce this type of offending. Although there is media coverage of these types of investigations, confirmation that information exists relevant to this request would lead to a better informed public which may encourage individuals to provide intelligence in relation to this type of offending which would assist the investigative process.
Factors against complying with Section 1(1)(a) neither confirming nor denying that information is held
Confirmation or denial that information is held in this case would suggest thatNorthumbria Police does not take its responsibility to deliver effect law enforcement appropriately as to confirm or deny information is held would undermine the investigation process which may lead to officers having to be removed from frontline duties to increase manpower on a particular investigation. Such an action would hinder the prevention and detection of crime and the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying whether information exists. Members of the public are entitled to know that Northumbria Police actively targets organised crime groups.
In addition the Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities it serves. As part of that policing purpose, information is gathered which can be highly sensitive relating to high profile investigative activity.
Weakening the mechanisms used to monitor any type of criminal activity, and specifically organised gang crime particularly in regard to sexual exploitation, would place the victims at an increased level of danger.
In addition any disclosure by Northumbria Police that undermines ongoing investigations, no matter how generic, would undermine any trust or confidence individuals have in the Police Service, therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information is held.
No inference can be drawn from this refusal that information is or isn’t held.
The arrest totals have been collated by searching for all arrests between 01/01/2010 and 31/08/2106 for the offences stated.
The charge totals have been collated by searching for all disposals between 01/01/2010 and 31/08/2106 for the offences stated.
The figures are as per your request, for persons arrested/charged, therefore if an individual has been arrested or charged multiple times those have not been counted.
Charges and arrest totals will not directly relate to each other as a person can be arrested for one offence and charged with another or several.
With the above in mind please see below attached which answers this part of your request.
Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another. Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.