Disclosure Details

Missing Evidence - 921/12

Dated: 10 Dec 2012

Date of request:      22/11/2012

Date of response:   10/12/2012

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)

Thank you for your email dated 22 November  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.

You asked: 

  1. How many items of evidence have gone missing while held by police between May 2009 to April 2010 (inclusive), May 2010 to April 2011 and May 2011 to April 2012 (or as far as recorded in 2012).

  2. Please provide a brief description of each item e.g leather women's handbag, 5 inch kitchen knife

  3. Say whether item was lost or stolen

  4. Did the item go missing from a police evidence room. If not, please state where.

  5. ]Whether there was evidence of a break in

  6. Why the item was being held in the evidence room. Brief answer including nature of the offense e.g. DNA evidence/ robbery, DNA evidence/murder, DNA evidence/manslaughter, DNA evidence/rape

  7. Whether the loss of the item meant criminal proceedings were dropped

  8. Was a suspect held in custody subsequently released?

  9. Whether the item was ever recovered  

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 than 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 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.

 I have set out the reasons for this below.

No specific records are kept regarding how many items of evidence, if any, have gone missing while held by Northumbria Police.  To establish what information is held would require extensive searches in a number of locations of each and every case file for the periods  specified to establish if any evidence was recorded as missing.  These files  would require further interrogation to then extract questions 2-9.
We have estimated that to locate and extract the information requested would take well over the prescribed 18 hours.

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, even for a  considerably shorter time period.

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.

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.

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.

Downloads

FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-67103