Disclosure Details

Brothels - 596/13

Dated: 23 Aug 2013

Date of request:     01/08/2013

Date of response:   20/08/2013

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

Thank you for your email dated 1 August 2013 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: 

For each year from 2005 to 2013, the amount of money kept by the police force under the Proceeds of Crime Act following raids on brothels and prosecutions for "keeping a brothel".
-For each year from 2005 to 2013, the number of ‘supervisory visits’ by police officers to brothels.
-For each year from 2005 to 2013, the number of raids carried out on brothels.

By ‘supervisory visits’ I mean any visit by a police officer to a brothel that is not a police raid. These are usually informal visits to check on the welfare of women or to offer advice.
By “the amount of money kept by the police force” I mean any cash (or money made from the auction of confiscated goods) confiscated during raids on brothels. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act police forces are allowed to keep 25% of funds confiscated (the rest going to HMRC and the CPS).

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 Crime Department of Northumbria Police. I can neither confirm nor deny that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.

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 than 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 your request.

 I have set out the reasons for this below.
Searches of premises, are carried out under powers conferred by one of a number of Acts of Parliament, most frequently under general powers conferred under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, (PACE).
A number of the sections in that Act provide the wide ranging general powers which enable the police to search a premises for a number of reasons.

Sections 33 to 36 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 deal specifically with the offences relating to premises which are believed to be used as a brothel, but the power to conduct a search of a brothel will be under the general powers within PACE. Those same powers also cover premises searches for numerous other offences and circumstances, for example to effect arrests, to execute a warrant of arrest, some public order offences, some Road Traffic offences, cruelty to animals offences. In recording the fact that such a search has been carried out, officers are only required to record that they conducted such a search under the broad power of S17 PACE, with no requirement to stipulate further the nature of the premises being searched or the nature of the offences they were entering the premises to investigate, therefore the only way to retrieve the information you have requested would be to manually review each individual search record, and numerous other associated computer screens in an effort to gather and extract the required information. Even then, as there is no requirement to include the detailed information you are requesting, there is no guarantee that what you are asking will actually be recorded. Additionally, in the case of applications for a warrant to a magistrate to enter premises, the information requested is contained in a handwritten application. This would involve the manual search of potentially thousands of paper records to identify if a search had been conducted on such a suspected premises.

Initial interrogation of the forces premises system have established that more than 15,000 premises searches were carried out throughout the Northumbria Police area for the 12 months between September 2010 and August 2011 alone. This equates to 128,750 search records for the period of your request.

When applying S12 exemption our duty to assist under S16 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.

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.


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