Registered sex offenders - 125/15
Dated: 05 Mar 2015
Date of request: 04/02/15
Date of response: 05/03/15
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 4 Febuary 2015 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.
Could you please tell me the following:
1) The number of registered sex offenders in your force area whose whereabouts are unknown?
2) When each missing registered sex offender went missing?
3) The MAPPA category each missing sex offender is managed at?
4) The name of each registered sex offender whose whereabouts is unknown?
5) The total number of registered sex offenders in your force area?
6) How many registered sex offenders in your force area are managed at MAPPA category 1, 2 and 3?
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 Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
2. 1. wanted/missing since November 2008, 2. wanted/missing since May 2002
3. Both are Category 1 Registerted Sex Offenders, and were at the time they went missing, managed at level 1.
4. With regards to this part of your request 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(1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement
Section 31 of the Act (Law Enforcement) states that information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to prejudice:
(a) The prevention or detection of crime
(b) The apprehension or prosecution of offenders
Sections 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption which means that there is a requirement to evidence the harm in disclosure and also consider the public interest, which I have set out below.
Harm and Public Interest Considerations
Disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act are disclosed to the world and not just to the individual making the request. Northumbria Police adhere to national guidelines regarding monitoring of sex offenders and through Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) the offenders are regularly supervised. The release of such information could lead to the individual staying ‘underground’ and carrying out further offences compromising public safety. Public Safety is of paramount importance and the Police Service will not disclose information which would jeopardise safety under any circumstances.
It would obviously not benefit law enforcement and protect life and property to know the specifics of Northumbria Police's policing methods. This knowledge would obviously be advantageous to those individuals who are intent on carrying out crimes and may therefore jeopardise the apprehension of an offender.
Factors Favouring Disclosure
Disclosure would provide a better awareness to the public and allow informed debate on such matters.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. As outlined within the harm disclosure would seriously undermine current and future law enforcement tactics which in turn would compromise the prevention of detection of crime and potentially lead to more crime being committed. This could obviously put members of the public as well as police officers at risk.
Modern-day policing is intelligence-led and a better public awareness may lead to additional information being provided by the public. However, effective law enforcement is of paramount importance and the Police Service will not divulge information if to do so would undermine their duty to provide an efficient service or put officers or members of the public at risk.
Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for non disclosure is made.
5. As the information you have requested 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 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.
Such information is routinely published via MAPPA reports on the Northumbria Police website and is therefore freely available.
6. All registered sex offenders are Category 1 offenders.
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.
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/disclosure_log/foi_complaint_rights
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.