Drugs & Under 18s - 785/12
Dated: 18 Oct 2012
Date of request: 09/10/2012
Date of response: 12/10/2012
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 9 October 2012 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 by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
"A list of the all the drug dealers below the age 18 that have been arrested for drug dealing or possession charges. I would like the age of each of those arrested and (if the information is available) the drug they were arrested for carrying and the quantity of it.
Could the information be on an annually basis since 2009"
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 Corporate Development Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however can not be disclosed for the following reasons.
There are potentially more than 80 different offences for which a person can be arrested which could be classed as being 'drug dealing and possession'. Those individual offences cover simple possession of different types of controlled drug, their Production, Possession with intent to supply, actual Supply and even permitting the use of premises and incitement. For the three full years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 there are more than 1,300 arrest records for persons under the age of 18 years for these offence types. Each record would have to be individually viewed to calculate the age of the person concerned 'at the time' of their arrest.
Additionally, in the case of the identity of the drug and the quantity involved in each case - a person may initially be arrested for one of the general overarching offences which cover Class A, Class B or Class C drugs and only in due course when that drug has been examined and it has been determined or confirmed what the actual drug is, will they be charged with a more specific offence. In some cases the identity of the drug will be recorded within the charge wording ready for the persons appearance at court and it is possible that a quantity may also be included. However, cases may have been recorded as 'a quantity of' - and no actual detailed volume or quantity is recorded. That level of information may well be recorded within paper based court file in the possession of the CPS.
To therefore provide information which meets the criteria of your request, would entail a member of staff manually searching over 1,300 records. Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 108 hours, therefore Section 12 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 that part of 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.
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 crime data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.
You may be interested to know that Northumbria Police routinely publish information that has been disclosed by Northumbria Police in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 via the Disclosure Log. The aim of the Disclosure Log is to promote openness and transparency by voluntarily placing information into the public arena.
Whilst it is not possible to publish all responses we will endeavour to publish those where we feel that the information disclosed is in the public interest. The Disclosure Log will be updated once responses have been sent to the requester. I have provided the relevant link below:-
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.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.