We received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):
How many Clare’s Law applications have you had in relation to housemates in the last 12 months? How many of these have you accepted?
If you have never received any please can you advise if hypothetically you would accept a case where there is clear evidence of abuse from a housemate (one where threshold would be met to disclose if they were in a relationship), where they reside together due to a house share situation but have not been intimate (i.e. not in a relationship, dating or having sexual intercourse)?
Unfortunately, West Yorkshire Police are unable to provide you with the information requested.
It is estimated that the cost of providing / locating the information you seek within your request, would exceed the time threshold. When a reasonable estimate has been made that the appropriate limit would be exceeded, there are no requirements for a public authority to undertake the work.
Please see Appendix A, for the full legislative explanation as to why West Yorkshire Police are unable to provide the information.
If you would like to refine or narrow the scope of your request, West Yorkshire Police will assist you in negotiating the possibility of the provisions, of the information requested. Please see the Advice and Assistance, under Section 16 of Appendix A.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 creates a statutory right of access to information held by public Authorities. A public authority in receipt of a request must, if permitted, state under Section 1(a) of the Act, whether it holds the requested information. If held then this information will be communicated to the applicant under Section 1(b) of the Act.
The right of access to information is not without exception and is subject to a number of exemptions. Which are designed to enable public authorities to withhold information that is unsuitable for release.
Importantly the Act is designed to place information into the public domain, that is, once access to information is granted to one person under the Act, it is then considered public information and must be communicated to any individual should a request be received.
This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Section 17 of the Act provides:
(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1), given to the applicant a notice which:-
(a) States the fact,
(b) Specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) States (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
REASONS FOR DECISION
The reason that we are unable to provide you with this information is covered by the following
Section 12 - Where the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit
West Yorkshire Police can confirm that we hold the information you seek, however it is not held in an easily retrievable format.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), often referred to as Clare’s Law was rolled out across all 43 police forces in England and Wales in March 2014. The DVDS was introduced to set out procedures that could be used by the police to disclose information about previous violent or abusive offending, including emotional abuse, controlling or coercive behaviour, or economic abuse by an individual, where this may help protect their partner or ex-partner, and any relevant children, from violent or abusive offending.
The parties have to be or have been in a personal intimate relationship, therefore housemates would not fall within these criteria unless they have been or are in an intimate relationship. However in order to establish whether the individuals were ‘housemates’ would involve a manual search of all referrals. For the requested time frame there are approximately 3,000 occurrences, at a minimum of 1 minute per record this would take a minimum of 50 hours to provide.
A link to the statutory guidance on Clare’s Law can be found on this link Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) Statutory Guidance (publishing.service.gov.uk)
It has been estimated that the cost of providing you with this information is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information exceeds the 'appropriate level' as stated in the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004, which currently stands at £450 worth of work.
Our ACPO guidance states that we do not issue fees notices and therefore in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice.
West Yorkshire Police have utilised Section 12, which states "A public authority does not have to comply with a request for information if the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit", this is further affirmed by the Decision Notice issued by the Information Commissioner's Office (Reference: FS50143930), and Guidance issued by the Information Commissioner's Office on Using the Fees Regulations.
ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE
Under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, my duty to provide advice and assistance to persons who have made request for information, please be advised that West Yorkshire Police can offer the following advice as to how to refine your request:
We may be able to provide this information for a significantly reduced timeframe of a chosen 3 month period.
You may find the following information from or website relevant to your request:
Clare’s Law - Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme | West Yorkshire Police
Freedom Of Information - Disclosure Log | West Yorkshire Police
Please note that police forces do not use generic systems or identical procedures for capturing the data. For these reasons this response to your questions should not be used for comparison purposes with responses you may receive from other police forces.