Disclosure Details

Domestic Violence - 733/12

Dated: 10 Oct 2012

Date of request:   19/09/2012

Date of response:   02/10/2012

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

Thank you for your email dated 19 September 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: 

  1. The number of repeat offences flagged as ‘Domestic Violence’ in each of the last five years where figures are available.

  2. The number of new offences flagged as ‘Domestic Violence’ in each of the last five years where figures are available. 

  3. The number of a) cautions b) prosecutions and c) convictions issued for the breach of restraining orders relating to domestic violence offences in each of the last five years.

In response:

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

As advised earlier this request has been aggregated with your previous request FOI 671/12 due to the cost and time implications as it refers to the same subject area.

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Corporate Development Department of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police however can not be disclosed for the following reasons.

The information you have requested is not held in a format which would allow us to respond to this request within the time scales allowed.  I have set out the rationale for this below.

With regards to questions 1 and 2.

For the 5 financial years since 2007/08 to 2011/12 there are more than 24,000 recorded crimes which are recorded with a domestic abuse marker or flag.  In that information some details of a victim are recorded but in the case of some domestic violence victims, there are occasions where female victims subsequently change names from marital surnames to maiden names, or in fact the surnames of new partners.  Additionally it is only since 2009 that we have captured more detailed information of victims which includes more detailed content including dates of birth.

In order to establish repeat or new offences it would be necessary to set up searches which look for every possible individual victim in a combination of names, dates of birth, types of offence, and within periods of time where victims may have in fact been a repeat victim, additionally taking into account that any of the victims may be a victim of an offence with a different partner in a different relationship.

These searches could not be carried out accurately as there are clearly too many variables that would have to be figured into these searches.  Even for a one year period, it would be necessary to consider including a further full previous 12 months records, to see if any of the victims had been a victim in the previous 12 month period.

With regards to question 3.

For a 5 year period there will be almost 250 offences for breach of a restraining order related to a domestic abuse offence.  This request has asked for information on the outcomes of these offences.  To establish the full extent of the prosecutions for these offences, it would be necessary to examine the court results for each of the persons convicted for these offences.  The court result screens are free-text, so would have to be physically read to establish the level of information being requested.  To do so would necessitate individually examining each of the original crime reports, the individual arrest records of each arrested person, and what in many cases can be numerous pages of court records to get to the court result which relates to the court appearance and whether that person was convicted of that specific offence.

To provide information which meets the criteria of your request, would therefore entail a member of staff manually searching over 24,250 records.  Even at a conservative estimate of 5 minutes per record, which we have considered as a reasonable minimum, we have estimated that to extract this information would take well in excess of 2020 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 that part of your request.

When applying Section 12 exemption our duty to assist under Section 16 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.

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:-

http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/index.asp

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.

Downloads

FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-28029