Disclosure Details

Stephen Mitchell - 374/12

Dated: 07 Jun 2011

Date of request:   17/04/2012

Date of response:   15/05/2012

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

Thank you for your email dated 17 April 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.

You asked: 

"I am requesting recorded information concerning the following case that is published in the media today; "Northumbria Police has paid out £31,500 to some of the women. Mitchell was jailed for life for attacking 16 women and teenage girls, including one from Sunderland.",
http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/crime/rapist-police-officer-victims-receive-compensation-1-4450676 as follows;

  1. Is the damages and costs in such cases being funded/paid by your insurers or by the taxpayer?

  2. Regards 1 above, how much is being funded by the taxpayer and how much is being funded by your insurers?.

  3. Please supply breakdown of all costs to date, up until this request is answered, of all claims connected to this matter, including;
    (a) Total spent on legal costs
    (b) Total paid in damages and or compensation. Please include amounts paid to different individuals.
    (c) Regards a and b above, please include breakdowns of any payment/s for lost of earnings as well as any other payments made.
    (d) What is the total bill to date (legal costs, damages and compensation), up until this request is answered, to the taxpayer, Northumbria Police and or its insurers?

    You will see from the about newspaper report that NP have stated; "Stephen Mitchell was convicted of horrendous crimes and we unreservedly apologise to his victims.

    "Each claim is dealt with individually and the length of time it takes to progress can be dependent on the information that is required to reach a settlement.

    "In all claims that we have received, the claimants have instructed a solicitor to deal with the matter and we respond to them accordingly. We ensure settlements are thoroughly assessed and reached as soon as possible."

    The report also includes the following; "A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed the force has been in negotiations with 10 women seeking compensation.

    Police would not reveal how the £31,500 had been divided or if it was interim payments. One said: "I personally have not received a penny as yet. "I plan to take my case to court and I would urge other victims not to be fobbed off with a few pounds just to go away. "My fear is that because some of were vulnerable and addicted to drugs they may be tempted by such an offer."

  4. Have any more victims started legal proceedings against NP or is the number still 10. If they have please supply total number/s involved."

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 Legal Department of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.

I have decided to disclose the located information to you as follows.

  1. The claims are covered by the Force's policy of insurance for the relevant periods.

  2. The insurance policy is subject to an excess of £150,000.

  3. a) Total spent on legal costs - £19535. 

    b) Total is £31,500.  This information will not be broken down further as this will consist of personal information and so will be exempt by virtue of Section 40 of the Act.  I have set out the exemption for you below: 

    Section 40 - Personal Information

    (2) Any information to which a request for information relates is also exempt information if -
    (a) it constitutes personal data which do not fall within subsection (1), and
    (b) either the first or the second condition below is satisfied. 

    (3) The first condition is -
    (a) in a case where the information falls within any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition of “data” in section 1(1) of the [1998 c. 29.] Data Protection Act 1998, that the disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene -
    (i) any of the data protection principles, or
    (ii) section 10 of that Act (right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress), and
    (b) in any other case, that the disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene any of the data protection principles if the exemptions in section 33A(1) of the [1998 c. 29.] Data Protection Act 1998 (which relate to manual data held by public authorities) were disregarded.

    Personal Data is defined in the Data Protection Act as data which relate to a living individual who can be identified from that data or from those data and other information which is in the posession of, or is likely to come into the posession of the data controller.

    Section 40 is a classed based, absolute exemption and therefore there is no need to explain the public interest considerations in this area.

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

    c)  No special damages paid, general damages only. 

    d)  As of the date this request was received, the total of a) plus b) = £51035.

  4. One claimant has started proceedings. The total number of claims received remains at 10.



You may be interested to know that Northumbria Police routinely publish information that has been disclosed by Northumbria Police in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 via the Disclosure Log.  The aim of the Disclosure Log is to promote openness and transparency by voluntarily placing information into the public arena.

Whilst it is not possible to publish all responses we will endeavour to publish those where we feel that the information disclosed is in the public interest.  The Disclosure Log will be updated once responses have been sent to the requester.  I have provided the relevant link below:-


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.


FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-28029