Slavery - 103/14
Dated: 17 Feb 2014
Date of request: 28/01/2014
Date of response: 17/02/2014
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 28 January 2014 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.
I would like to know, under the FOI Act, how many "slavery" cases you are investigating, and have investigated, in the last 3 years.
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 both the Crime Department and the Strategy and Performance Unit of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
With regards to cases investigated, I can confirm that the response to this is none.
With regards to cases under investigation I can respond as follows.
Northumbria Police neither confirms nor denies (NCND) that it holds any of the information requested by virtue of the following exemption:-
Section 30(3) Investigations
The Police Service will not disclose whether it has carried out an investigation, or whether an investigation is taking place, unless that information has already been placed in the public domain, through channels such as the media or the court process.
Section 30 is a class based qualified exemption and consideration must be given as to whether there is a public interest in neither confirming nor denying the information exists.
I have set these out below.
Section 30 - Public Interest factors favouring disclosure
Confirming that information exists could promote public trust in providing transparency, demonstrating openness and accountability into response to incidents or crimes. It could also provide reassurance to the public that the police service takes all such reports seriously and conducts any investigations appropriately. To confirm could also allow the public to have a better understanding of the effectiveness of the police service, and allow the public to make informed decisions about police procedures and the money spent in this area.
Section 30 - Public Interest factors against disclosure
The police service relies on information being supplied by the public. If we were to confirm or deny that police were investigating such instances the success of any investigations would be compromised. It is not in the public interest to disclose any information prematurely that may hinder those investigations.
The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying the requested data exists. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing and providing assurance that crime reports and investigations are conducted appropriately there is strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of any police investigations. The police service relies heavily on the public providing information. The public have an expectation that any information they provide will be treated with confidence. Anything that puts that confidence of those investigation at risk would have a serious detrimental effect on the police service.
It should not be taken that investigations have or have not taken place, and should not be taken as an inference that the information you have requested, does or does not exist.
Additionally Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information with regard to an exempt body as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemption:
Section 23(5) Information Supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies
Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.
Confirming or denying the existence of whether any other information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information applied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.
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/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.