PC S Mitchell - 782/10
Dated: 04 Jan 2011
Date of request: 06/12/2010
Date of response: 04/01/2011
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
Thank you for your email dated 6 December 2010 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.
"I wish to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act. My application relates to the case of PC Stephen Mitchell, the Northumbria Police officer recently convicted of rape and other offences.
It has already been disclosed that PC Mitchell was able to join the force in 1998, despite having stood trial for serious sexual offences and, apparently, not declaring this in his application form. I also understand that around 2005 (thgis is an approximate date), a number of concerns were raised about his behaviour. These concerns were reportedly made by a number of people, including PC Mitchells estranged wife, to various officers, including a detective chief inspector. It has also since been confirmed that PC Mitchell was required to resign from the force in 2007 but was later re-appointed.
My questions are as follows:
Other than the recent criminal investigation by Northumbria Police (i.e. the one that led to PC Mitchell facing criminal charges), has there been any inquiry or investigation by the force or any other organisation into any of the above aspects ? That is to say, has there been any investigation into how Northumbria Police dealt with PC Mitchells original application and/or the allegations made against him prior to 2008 and/or his re-appointment after being required to resign in 2007?
If so, has anyone been disciplined or any other action taken (e.g. training) ? If so, what were the ranks of those involved and what action was taken?
If not, are there any plans for an investigation into the above or any other aspects of this case?
Have any recommendations arisen as a result of this case (e.g. the checking of applications or dealing with allegations against officers) ? If so, what are they?"
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention
In relation to your request, Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you requested as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
S40(5) Personal information
Consideration has been given to your application and this exemption has been applied to protect those people who may, or may not be involved in the investigation outlined above and anyone who may, or may not have been disciplined in relation to these matters.
To confirm or deny whether the requested information is held would be unfair to the data subject. As disclosure would therefore breach the first data protection principle, Section 40(5)(b)(i) is engaged. Individuals would have a reasonable expectation that information of this kind would not be disclosed.
You should consider this to be a refusal under section 17 of the Act.
No inference can be taken from this refusal that the information you have requested does or does not exist.
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.
Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor
Direct Dial: 01661 868347