Domestic violence suspects - 378/13
Dated: 24 May 2013
Date of request: 9/05/2013
Date of response: 17/05/2013
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 9 May 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.
Full details of occasions on which domestic violence suspects against whom the CPS decides to take no further action were subsequently arrested and charged for a similar offence, since 2005.
Please note, this issue was raised by Emily Thornberry in a written question in the House of Commons on 10 April 2013 (Official Report: Column 1138W), and the Attorney-General replied that: “Such a decision is however recorded by the police; so that if there is any subsequent similar allegation, consideration can be given as to whether it should be reviewed and the suspect charged with both offences. Alternatively it can be used as a basis for making a bad character application in any subsequent prosecution.”
I would therefore be grateful if you could provide, for each year during the period, the total number of decisions to take no further action against domestic violence suspects, the nature of the allegations, the number of occasions where those suspects were subsequently arrested and charged for a similar offence, and the nature of the offences leading to the arrests and charges.
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 Corporate Development 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 are seeking is not held in an easily retrievable format. An initial search for crimes with Domestic Abuse marker completed on the Modus Operandi page and where a suspect has received a No Further Action (NFA) disposal has brought up over 5900 records for the time period you requested.
To provide information which meets the criteria of your request, would entail a member of staff manually searching these records to determine which if any relate to NFA disposals authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Even at a conservative estimate of 2 minutes per record, which we have considered as reasonable, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 196 hours. After establishing which records were NFA'd by the CPS each suspect would need to be viewed to see if they were subsequently arrested and charged with a similar offence. This would take further time and 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 even for a considerably shorter time period.
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.