Under 17s in custody - 640/12
Dated: 09 Nov 2012
Date of request: 10/08/2012
Date of response: 24/08/2012
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 10 august 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.
How many children aged 17 years and under have spent one or more nights in police cells in 2010 and 2011? Please provide information for each year separately. I would also like to know the gender, age and ethnicity of the children.
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 Criminal Justice 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.
The data requested cannot be retrieved from the Northumbria Police Integrated Computer and Communications System (NPICCS). The Computerised Custody Recording system automatically records the time of arrival of a detainee but the time of departure is manually recorded on the hard-copy record. Although the time a ‘disposal’ code (i.e. No Further Action/Charge/Bail) is entered into the system is recorded this does not necessarily correlate with the actual time of departure.
Although the gender and age of detainees are searchable; their self-defined ethnicity is not.
Between 01/01/2010 and 31/12/2011, 20,710 individuals aged 17 and under were brought into custody. In order to accurately reflect the number of those detained overnight in police cells a manual search, retrieval, examination and analysis of each of these records would need to be carried out.
Even at a conservative estimate of 4 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to locate and extract this information would take over 1300 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, even for a considerably shorter time period.
However, in order to provide you with some assistance, under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an initial assessment of information that may be provided within the time constraints would be the total numbers of individuals aged 17 and under, who were detained at a police station within Northumbria Police during the above period (broken down by age and gender). This should not be taken as them being detained overnight
If this would be useful you may wish to define and resubmit your request accordingly, however you should note, as previously advised, any time already taken dealing with your recent requests, FOIs 631/12 and 648/12 will be taken into consideration.
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.