Disclosure Details

Illegible number plates - 055/17

Dated: 25 Jan 2017

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

Thank you for your e mail dated 13 January 2017 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 at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions. 

You asked:

1. How many number plates were incorrectly read (or were illegible) by speed cameras operating in your force area as a result of mud/dirt covering the number plate for each month between December 2015 – December 2016?

2. How many motorists have been stopped by police because they have hard to read or illegible number plates? 

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) guidelines state that:

A public authority must confirm or deny whether it holds the information requested unless the cost of this alone would exceed the appropriate limit.

I can neither confirm nor deny that the information you require is held by Northumbria Police as to actually determine if it is held would exceed the permitted 18 hours therefore Section 12(2) 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. 

I have set out the reasons for this below.

This information is not held statistically and to create would involve every officer in force being asked if they had recorded that they had stopped a motorist because of hard to read or illegible number plates.  This in its own right would far exceed the permitted 18 hours.  Additionally  each piece of film for speeding offences would need to be viewed to establish if such instances had occurred. In the time period requested there were

1400 mobile deployments alone.  To check each film for those deployments again would far exceed the 18 hour threshold.

The extraction of the information requested cannot be achieved within the permitted time constraints of the Act.  We are therefore unable to confirm that information is even held. 

I can advise that searches made for the offence of 'registration mark not easily readable'  returned no results for Fixed Penalty notices being issued.


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.