Bedfordshire Police Headquarters,
Woburn Road, Kempston,
Bedford, MK43 9AX
Telephone: 01234 842547
23rd October 2019
REQUEST UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 Ref No: FOI2019/05954
I write in connection with your request for information received on 25th September. I note you seek access to the following information:
1. The total number of indecent image offences committed against children aged under 18, for the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019
From these above offences (child sexual offences and indecent offences) please:
2. Break it down by offences and the number of times the offence was recorded
3. For each offence please break it down by the platform/s used to commit the offence (eg. text message, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik etc.)
If it’s possible and if it’s not exceeding time and cost grounds, please provide the following:
4. The gender of the victims
5. The age of the victims grouped into 11 and under, 12-15 and 16-17
FURTHER INFORMATION RECEIVED: I have data regarding child sexual offences (from a previous request) and I’d now like the total number of indecent image offences of children in 2018/19 broken down by offence. For both child sexual offences and indecent images offences that had an online element, I’d like them broken down by method of communication – a breakdown of the specific offences along with HO codes can be found below. Then if it doesn’t breach time and cost constraints, I’d like the gender and age of the victims grouped into 11 and under, 12-15 and 16-17 (I understand this can be difficult if not impossible with indecent image offences due to the nature of the crime but please include where possible).
Offences and HO codes:
• 17 Indecent assault
• 17A, 17B, 20A, 20B, Sexual assault
• 19C, 19D, 19E, 19F, 19G, 19H, 19J, 19K Rape / attempted rape
• 21, 22B, Sexual activity involving a child
• 22A, 22B Causing sexual activity without consent
• 23 Familial sexual offences
• 70 Sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder
• 71 Abuse of children through prostitution and pornography
• 71 Abuse of children through sexual exploitation
• 72 Trafficking for sexual exploitation
• 73 Abuse of position of trust
• 74 Gross indecency with a child
• 88A Sexual grooming
• 88E Exposure and voyeurism
• 71/1 Arrange or facilitate child sexual offence
• 71/17 Sexual communication with a child
• 86/2 Taking, making, distributing and sharing indecent photographs of children
• 86/10 Possession of indecent photograph of child
• Other sexual offence / offence not listed
If you would need to do a key word search in order to establish which platforms were used, I can also send through a list of social networks upon request.
I am required by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (The Act) to handle all requests in a manner that is blind to the identity of the requestor. Any information released in response to a request is regarded as being published and therefore, in the public domain without caveat.
Attachment – Annex A FOI2019-05954
Cambridgeshire Constabulary neither confirms nor denies that it holds additional information in relation to your request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 23(5) - Security Bodies
Section 30(3) - Investigations and Proceedings
Section 31(3) - Law enforcement
Section 40(5) - Personal Information
The Section 30 exemption is a class based qualified exemption. This means that the legislators when writing the legislation considered that the release of such information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 would cause harm to the public authority or individual concerned. There is therefore no requirement to carry out a HARM Test in respect of such information. However there is a requirement to carry out a Public Interest Test in order to establish whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption may be outweighed by a wider public benefit in disclosure.
The Section 31 exemption is a prejudice based qualified exemption which requires the prejudice (harm) to be evidenced and a public interest test to be carried out.
The Section 23 & 40 exemptions are class based absolute exemption. This means that the legislators have identified that there would be harm in disclosure and there is no need to evidence this or carry out a public interest test.
Overall Harm in disclosing information:
Every effort should be made to release information under FOI, However, to provide specific information, evidence or documents from an investigation could potentially compromise the evidence gathering process. Such instances are always sensitive and high profile, and anything which could add to public speculation and rumour could further jeopardise any future trial proceedings.
S30 Public Interest Considerations:
S30 - Factors favouring confirming that information is held:
Confirming or denying that information exists could lead to a better informed public, improving their knowledge and understanding of how the Police service respond and deal with such types of investigation. Public confidence would be maintained and the public may be encouraged to assist more readily with such investigations.
S30 Factors against confirming or denying that information is held:
Confirming or denying the existence of information generated by an investigation, particularly in these circumstances needs to be treated with sensitivity. In some cases either confirming or denying information is held could disclose facts which would prejudice the evidence gathering within an investigation. In addition, the police service would not disclose information which could identify investigative activity, and subsequently undermine those processes. To do so would hinder the prevention or detection of crime.
S31 Public Interest Considerations:
S31 - Factors favouring confirming that information is held:
Confirming or denying that information exists could lead to the public being better informed which may lead to more information received from the public and therefore reducing crime.
S31 Factors against confirming or denying that information is held:
The public and victims of crime place confidence in Cambridgeshire Constabulary to apprehend offenders and protect victims of crime and potential victims of crime. To confirm or deny that specific documents or evidence exists may harm the interests of the individual and public knowledge of this information may reduce the effectiveness to detect crime and policing precautions relating to this type of investigation.
Whilst providing information would reassure the public, including information as to how public funds are spent, confirming or denying details of any investigation would compromise that investigative process. Anything which would jeopardise future court proceedings would not be disclosed prior by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, as to do so would undermine police investigations and hinder the prevention and detection of crime. It would not therefore be in the public interest to reveal that such investigations are being undertaken.
After consideration of the factors of the public interest test they are clearly weighed in favour of non-disclosure. Looking at the most important factors of the test it was clear the public interest in the force’s ability to prevent crime and have effective law enforcement tactics in place, significantly outweighs the public interest in the use of police resources.
Therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying whether any information is held regarding these techniques is not made out.
None of the above can be viewed as an inference that the information you seek does or does not exist.
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter please do not hesitate to contact me quoting the above reference number.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides you the right to request an independent review of this response under its review procedure. If you require such a review you must notify us within two months from the date of this letter. After lodging a complaint with Cambridgeshire Constabulary if you are still dissatisfied with the decision you may make an application to the Information Commissioner. For information on how to make a complaint please visit ICO.org.uk or contact them on 0303 123 1113.