Sex Offenders - 775/11
Dated: 07 Jun 2011
Date of request: 03/10/2011
Date of response: 21/10/2011
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 3 October 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.
Can you please specify:
The number of registered sex offenders currently living in your force area (as of October 3rd 2011). NB, this doesnt have to include offenders serving jail sentences
A summary of each of their convictions - eg, rape, sexual assault
How each offender is classified - eg, "high risk" or "very high risk" etc etc
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, however will not be disclosed for the following reasons.
As the information you have requested in relation to the number of registered sex offender's (RSO's) and risk levels is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request.
I have provided an explanation to this exemption below.
Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means
Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.
The information requested is freely available from the Northumbria Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Annual Report 2009/10 via the Northumbria Police website In order to aid and assist you I have supplied the relevant link below:-
Information for the 2010/11 period will not be disclosed and by withholding we will rely on the following exemption:-
Section 22 Information Intended for future publication
(1) Information is exempt information if -
(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not),
(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time the request for information was made, and
(c) it is reasonable in all circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph.
This exemption requires us to apply a Public Interest Test to decide if the information you require should be released ahead of the scheduled report.
Public Interest Test
Factors Favouring Disclosure:-
Accountability, Public Awareness & Debate
Disclosure of information for the 2010/11 period would enable the public to be better informed of the number of RSO's in the Northumbria Police area, demonstrating continued and ongoing awareness and monitoring of RSO activity. This would enhance public knowledge of the subject, by providing current information that may better inform public debate and the decisions of individuals.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure:-
Existing Procedures and Force Efficiency
The exemption engaged in this case specifically requires us to simply look at the public interest in delaying the release of information that will automatically be disclosed in the future. As it is know that this information will be published at a later date, to gather the information prior to the requirement to do so for the next scheduled MAPPA report, in order to answer this request would not be an efficient use of resources and finance as it would divert staff from their core duty of managing offenders and protecting the public.
Section 21 and 22 exemptions were specifically laid down by parliament to benefit those authorities who pro-actively publish information. To constantly produce new and up to date elements of currently published information in an attempt to satisfy an additional need outside of the annual schedule would render these exemptions less effective and remove the benefits of proactive publication.
It is acknowledged that both accountability and public awareness are enhanced by the disclosure of this type of information. However, this is achieved through the publication of the MAPPA report on an annual basis at which time MAPPA partners are held to account. It is for this reason that the public interest favours maintaining this schedule of publication.
Information regarding "a summary of their convictions ...." will also not be disclosed and we will rely on the following exemption:-
Section 40 (2) - Personal Information
Section 40(2) is a class based absolute exemption and as such legislators have identified that there would be harm in disclosure and there is no requirement to evidence this or consider the public interest test. However, as Section 40(2) is engaged and in order to make the exemption absolute we need to evidence that a data protection principle would be breached by disclosure. In this case it would not be fair to process information which could lead to the identification of an individual, therefore the first principle of the Data Protection Act would be breached.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you should consider this to be a refusal notice under section 17 of the Act for your request.
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.