Missing Registered Sex Offenders - 672/11
Dated: 07 Jun 2011
Date of request: 01/09/2011
Date of response: 13/09/2011
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 September 2011 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.
Do you hold information relating to missing registered sex offenders?
How many registered sex offenders, registered to an address in the force area, are currently missing?
How many are presumed to be abroad?
What is the longest period of time that a sex offender (from those currently missing) has been missing?
. What steps are being taken by the force to trace them?
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 confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I have decided to disclose the located information to you as follows.
In relation to the number of registered sexual offenders whose whereabouts are unknown, Northumbria Police has as of the date of your request 2 (two) RSOs currently recorded as wanted because their whereabouts are unknown. This total is only valid for the date in question because the information is dynamic and will change as arrests are made or new cases come to light through proactive intelligence led policing or routine visits to registered offenders.
to 4 We shall not be disclosing the information requested at these parts of your request and in doing so will rely on the following exemptions:
Section 31(1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement
Section 38 (1) (b) Health and Safety
Sections 31 and 38 are prejudice based qualified exemptions which means that there is a requirement to evidence the harm in disclosure and also consider the public interest, which I have set out below.
Harm and Public Interest Considerations
Disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act are disclosed to the world and not just to the individual making the request. Northumbria Police adhere to national guidelines regarding monitoring of sex offenders and through Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) the offenders are regularly supervised. The release of such information could highlight to an individual not complying with the requirements of the Sexual Offenders Act 2003 that the police are unaware of their 'missing' status and take advantage of this knowledge. This knowledge could lead to the individual staying ‘underground’ and carrying out further offences compromising public safety.
A tragic example of ‘actual’ harm is the murder of Angelika Kluk by Peter Tobin, a convicted sex offender which occurred in Glasgow in 2006. Tobin was a convicted sex offender at the time and in breach of the terms imposed on him under the Sexual offenders Act as he had been missing since October 2005. Public Safety is of paramount importance and the Police Service will not disclose information which would jeopardise safety under any circumstances.
It would obviously not benefit law enforcement and protect life and property to know the specifics of Northumbria Police's policing methods. This knowledge would obviously be advantageous to those individuals who are intent on carrying out crimes and may therefore jeopardise the apprehension of an offender.
Factors Favouring Disclosure
Disclosure would provide a better awareness to the public highlighting that the Police Service take appropriate steps to ensure this type of crime is investigated appropriately and satisfactorily.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. As outlined within the harm disclosure would seriously undermine current and future law enforcement tactics which in turn would compromise the prevention of detection of crime and potentially lead to more crime being committed. This could obviously put members of the public as well as police officers at risk.
Modern-day policing is intelligence-led and a better public awareness may lead to additional information being provided by the public. However, effective law enforcement is of paramount importance and the Police Service will not divulge information if to do so would undermine their duty to provide an efficient service or put officers or members of the public at risk.
Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for non disclosure is made.
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.