We received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):
I am interested in gambling related fraud/coercion where individuals have been targeted by others in order to take advantage of their betting accounts or identity to place bets. I am currently attempting to understand the specific characteristics and vulnerabilities of victims so education and interventions can be better targeted.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like to request the following information.
• Individual-level / Granular data (e.g., where each row of a spreadsheet/table represents an anonymised crime report):
• Report dates of reports where victims have been targeted to place bets or their details/accounts have been used by others. I.e., fraudulently (date victim reported crime, "any format")
• Offence dates/periods (e.g., time periods where the crime was said to have taken place - “example: 01/09/2019 – 01/03/2020”)
• Charge status ("yes/no")
• Criminal justice outcome ("any format")
• Victim characteristics (for example: age, sex, physical and mental/psychological health data, living status, etc. As much information as possible would be very useful here.)
• Offender characteristics (As much information as possible would be very useful here.)
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 exemption(s):
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.
Between 01/04/2018 and 31/03/2023, West Yorkshire Police recorded 2835 Fraud related crimes which contained the keyword ‘BET’ in the crime notes or MO. These would all need to be manually reviewed to determine if they would fit within the scope of your request. At 2 minutes per record, this would take over 94 hours.
Please note that the keyword ‘BET’ could be used in any context and also contained within other words, such as ‘BETWEEN’. Therefore it is possible that the majority of these crimes would not be relevant.
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 the information requested over a 5-month period.
To note, fraud is recorded by Action Fraud and only passed to the relevant police force under certain circumstances, therefore any data provided would only be partial and we would recommend that you contact Action Fraud directly with regard to your request.
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.