Firearms - 687/14
Dated: 11 Sep 2014
Date of request: 25/08/14
Date of response: 02/09/14
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 25 August 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.
Over the last five financial years (2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14) please specify:
a) How many firearms licences have been granted in total?
b) How many individuals have been granted firearms licences? Please provide a breakdown of number of licence/s per individual
c) How many individuals granted a firearms licence:
1. Had complaints made against them at the time of their application? Please specify the nature of the complaint
2. Had a criminal record at the time of the application?
Please provide the information requested as a breakdown per year
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 Firearms Licensing Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.
The information you have requested at points c) 1 and 2. is not held in an easily retrievable format.
In the past 5 years there have been approximately 3000 firearm license grants. These individuals would need to be identified and paper based files would need to be located and viewed to establish if any 'complaints' had been made about that individual at the time of their application.
Force systems would then need to be viewed to establish if any of those granted a license had a criminal record at the time of the application.
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 200 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 those part of your request.
With regards to points a) and b):
As the information you have requested at these parts 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.
Information which provides a response to these parts of the request can be found within our response to a previous request, FOI 202/14 refers, which is published on our Disclosure Log, via the Northumbria Police website, and is therefore freely available.
The link to the Log is given below.
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.