Disclosure Details

Cyber crime - 831/15

Dated: 08 Oct 2015

Date of request:      15/09/15

Date of response:    08/10/15

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

Thank you for your email dated 15 September 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.

You asked: 

 1. The number of policemen/women currently trained on cyber crime
2. The number of policemen/women currently serving in your constituency  

In response:

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 HR 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.

1. We shall not be disclosing the information at this point and by doing so we rely on the following exemption

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

This exemption is a qualified and prejudice based exemption and therefore the legislators accept that there may be harm if released into the public domain. The authority has to consider and describe the harm that would occur if the information were released and carry out a public interest test.  In accordance with best practice, I detail the harm first.

To disclose information detailing the number of officers currently trained on cyber crime could cause subsequent harm to the Police service’s ability to protect the public it serves and could prejudice its ability to perform core functions such as the prevention and detection of crime.
Clearly by releasing such information policing will be undermined as anyone wishing to use such information to their advantage would do.  Such information could disclose which forces may be vulnerable in that the figures may be low or even nil.  This could highlight to those with the intention of causing criminal offences or disruption where they may be less likely to come to the attention of or be brought to justice by the police

Factors favouring disclosure
The release of the information would demonstrate the openness of the organisation to make public such matters.  It would provide an awareness to the public that potentially more funding and resources need to be provided for this type of crime.
Disclosure would also contribute to the accuracy and quality of public debate.

Factors favouring non disclosure
Releasing such data and operational capabilities in such detail would give those  individuals with the intent to do so, the intelligence required to disrupt police activity.  This knowledge would mean that offenders would be able to target their offending more effectively which would inevitably lead to an increased likelihood of terrorist or criminal activity and an increased danger to the public.
On both a local and national those with intent to do so would find this information useful and use this knowledge to their own advantage in furthering terrorist/criminal activity around the country.
The disclosure of information which is likely to undermine the Police service’s ability to serve the public in preventing and detecting crime can only be considered as being harmful to the public.

Having considered both sides of the public interest, it is considered that the balance favours non disclosure of the information requested. Whilst this information may be of interest to the public, it is not in the public interest to release any information that would  reveal vulnerabilities relating to our resources and capability strength.  Where disclosure would increase the risk of terrorist/criminal activity or put the public at risk such disclosures would always be resisted.

You should consider this to be a refusal notice under section 17 of the Act for your request.

2. 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 can be found on the Northumbria Police website 'About us' page, therefore this is reasonably accessible information.
I have given the link to the website below for you in order to assist.


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 with 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: www.northumbria.police.uk/freedom_of_information/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.