Forensic Provisions (11055_16)

Request

The information I need is all in connection with the Forensic department of your force. The data I am looking to retrieve relates to budgets, submission of evidence to external laboratories, evidence examination conducted in-house and staffing levels. I would like to get hold of the following information per annum since 2011.

1) Total money spent on the forensic department overall between years: 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

2) Total money spent on submitting evidence for examination to external laboratories such as LGC between years: 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

3) Total money spent on in-force internal examinations conducted by their own staff SOCO’s/Forensics between the years of: 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

4) Total money spent on resources and equipment for the forensic department between: 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

5) A record of how many items of evidence were submitted to external laboratories for examination between the years of: 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

6) The individual cost breakdown to send various pieces of evidence such as 1) biological 2) latent 3) trace evidence 4) digital evidence 5) tool mark evidence 6) toxicology and 7) firearm evidence to an external laboratory for examination in the years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

7) A number of how many items of evidence were examined internally, in-house by forensic staff or SOCO’s between the years of: 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

8) In 2011, how many SOCO’s worked in the forensic department? And, now in 2016 how many SOCO’s currently work for your force?

Response

Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide the information in relation to questions 1 – 7.

We do not separately record any costs concerned with sending evidence away to external suppliers. Collection and delivery charges are absorbed within the product charges and costing this separately within tenders was seen as counterproductive.  Where we use specialist suppliers the Officer in Charge of the particular case is responsible for collection / delivery.

However, the total spend is on the PCC website:

http://www.westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk/media/361499/wmpcc-002-2015-revenue-budget-precept-capital-budget-2015-16.pdf

Please note that researching each individual case would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12 (1)).

Therefore, the cost of compliance with your request is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond, i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information would exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12 of the Freedom of information Act 2000. For West Midlands Police, the appropriate limit is set at £450, as prescribed by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, S.I. 3244.

A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is relying on a claim that section 12 or section 14 applies must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that fact. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a refusal notice.

Although excess cost removes the force’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied information, relative to your request, retrieved before it was realised that the fees limit would be exceeded (see attached answer for question 8). I trust this is helpful, but it does not affect our legal right to rely on the fees regulations for the remainder of the request.

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