Online abuse - 153/14
Dated: 05 Mar 2014
Date of request: 13/02/2014
Date of response: 04/03/2014
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 13 February 2014 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.
For the full year of 2012, please can you confirm:
1. How many complaints of harassment or abuse online have been reported by the public in the last five years and what action was taken
2. How many incidents of peer on peer violence / abuse (emotional and physical abuse) in schools (age range 0 - 18) have been reported in the past five years.
Can this information be provided in numbers of individual cases as well as percentages in reference to the local population.
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 Strategy and Performance Unit 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 have requested is not held in an easily retrievable format that allows extracting and collation within the prescribed 18 hours time limit as set out in the Acts legislation.
With regard to question 1, there are 4,625 incident records (excluding duplicate incidents, alarms etc) from 2009 to 2013 which relate to computers/internet in some way and possibly involved harassment and abuse. In order to fully answer this part of the request a member of staff would need to manually read through each incident record to establish if the incident was a complaint of harassment or abuse online and what the outcome was. Similarly to offer a response to question 2, 3,437 incident records would require manual review to establish which if any met the criteria of your request. In total 8,062 incidents would require manual review by staff to attempt to answer this part of your request.
Even at a conservative estimate of 2 minutes per record, which we have considered as a reasonable minimum, we have estimated that to extract this information would take over 268 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.
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.