Please can you provide the following information for the period of 1 Jan 2022 – 31 May 2023 (or as recently as possible):
1) For all shoplifting cases, the total value of, and number of the items stolen broken up by the type of item stolen (and by year/month if possible).
2) For all shoplifting cases, the total value of, and number of the items stolen broken up by the name of the business stolen from (and by year/month if possible).
Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide this information within the appropriate (cost) limit under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
This is because the ‘Property Category’ field is not a mandatory recording field on our systems, which means it is reliant on the officer inputting the information accordingly and it is therefore not often populated. The property stolen is likely to have been recorded elsewhere within the case file, but to identify this would require conducting a manual review of the case notes of each individual offence (there are over 19,000 offences where the ‘Property Category’ field is blank). With regard to the value of property stolen, this is not held in a retrievable format and is not held in a centrally located place. This detail is also not often recorded, however, to identify if it had been recorded within the case files we would need to locate and retrieve each crime log and conduct a manual examination of the files. With regard to the name of the business, this is also not a mandatory recording field and is therefore not populated on all occasions. This is also a free text field which means the officer can record varying levels of details about the business name. Therefore, in order to conduct the manual reviews necessary to answer each part of this request would require reviewing thousands of crime files, which would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12 (1)).
This means that the cost of providing you with the 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.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice for this request.
However, under Section 16 of the Act I have a duty to provide advice and assistance in relation to your request. Therefore, we can provide information pertaining to the number of shoplifting offences, broken down by month/year and the type of item stolen (where this has been recorded in the ‘Property Category’ field). Please find this information attached (982A_Attachment). Please also be advised that after conducting a dip sample of these results, it appears some entries have been incorrectly categorised. However, to determine the accuracy of this entire dataset would require a manual review of each case, which would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12 (1)).
Further information on section 12 of FOI is available here:
Please note that these data should be interpreted with caution. Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.
The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.
If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.