Paedophile hunters and online grooming

D. Moore made this Freedom of Information request to Cleveland Police

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Dear Cleveland Police,

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with these arrests:

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert number].

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to be a child.

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by your own officers acting as decoys.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to you by so-called paedophile hunters.

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

This mailbox is for Freedom of Information requests only and all other
mail will be deleted unactioned.

 

For Legal please forward your e-mail to
[1][email address] and for Subject Access please
check the Subject Access section of the Cleveland Police website under the
heading of ‘Advice and Information’ or forward your e-mail to
[2][email address] for all other
enquiries please contact Cleveland Police via 101.

 

References

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D. Moore left an annotation ()

Jon Purshouse (School of Law, University of East Anglia) has written a paper that seriously questions the activities of so-called paedophile hunters. It is titled: "'Paedophile Hunters’, Criminal Procedure, and Fundamental Human Rights"

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full...

"The muted response of the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and domestic courts to paedophile hunters is failing to deter their criminality. The article ends with suggestions for reappraisal of existing legal doctrines, law reform, and more rigorous enforcement to control and, in some cases, deter paedophile hunting."

J Roberts left an annotation ()

I see the article by Joe Purshouse was first published on 17th June 2020, a month before the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of someone caught by 'paedophile hunters' :

[2020] UKSC 32

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2020...

See comment dated 15 July 2020:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Story from The Independent:

"‘Paedophile hunters’ do not violate right to privacy, Supreme Court rules as convict's appeal dismissed"

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr...

Middlesborough man questioned by Guardians of the North:

https://www.bitchute.com/video/HnXjdLFDF...

More videos can be found here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

Enquiry ref: 12498-20

I acknowledge receipt of your enquiry received by this office on 4th January.

As set out by the Freedom of Information Act it will be our aim to respond to your request by 1st February. In some cases, however, we may be unable to achieve this deadline and would hope to contact you should this be the case.

However although every effort will be made to ensure a response is provided within statutory deadlines, due to current circumstances delays may be unavoidable. We apologise for any inconvenience and will endeavour to process your request as quickly as is practicable.

Please note the ‘working day’ is defined as any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a day which is a bank holiday in any part of the United Kingdom. The first reckonable day is the first working day after receipt.

If you have any questions regarding your request please contact this office.

Mrs M Johnson
Freedom of Information Decision Maker
Department of Standard & Ethics | 1 Cliffland Way | Hemlington | TS8 9GL

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Public Service | Transparency | Impartiality | Integrity

“Delivering outstanding policing for our communities”

Please do not use social media or email to report crime as we do not monitor these accounts 24/7. Dial 999 in an emergency or visit the contact us section of our website for all reporting options.

show quoted sections

D. Moore left an annotation ()

"'Paedophile hunter' evidence used to charge 150 suspects" (2017)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43...

"Strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse" (February 2020)

“Almost half of the online grooming cases emanate from the activities of online child abuse activist groups (vigilante groups), who are unregulated and untrained. A more robust proactive capability on the part of Police Scotland would reduce the opportunities for these groups to operate.” (page 5)

https://www.hmics.scot/sites/default/fil...

BBC Radio 4 programme The Untold goes on a "sting" with Leeds-based hunting group Predator Exposure:

"Six of the group went on trial accused of charges including false imprisonment and common assault. They were all found not guilty and emerged from Leeds Crown Court vowing to step up the work that they do."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000hv9p

See the group in action:

https://youtu.be/_gfRmagvltk

Useful information provided by South Yorkshire Police from the Force Disclosure Log:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Radio 4's File on 4 dealt with the issue of female sex offenders in "Women Who Abuse":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rcq5

The programme highlighted the case of a female groomer who was jailed in 2018. Details of her crime are available on the UK Database:

https://uk-database.net/2018/03/22/debor...

Thirty-six police forces responded to FOI requests (5th minute). The responses revealed that between 2015-19:

- there were over 10,400 reports of women sexually abusing children

- Over 5,400 reports concerned children aged 11-17

- around 3,800 reports involved children under 11

(some forces didn't provide information on ages)

A FOI request was also sent to the Disclosure and Barring Service. I have requested a copy of the response received:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

"There is evidence more female abusers are being flagged when applying for jobs with children or vulnerable adults than are being reported to the police."

The programme also referred to research by Dr Andrea Darling, who wrote this article on female teachers who abuse pupils:

https://theconversation.com/understandin...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

CPS legal guidance regarding paedophile hunters (July 2020). Paedophile hunting groups are referred to formally as online child abuse activist groups (OCAGs):

'The term OCAGs in this context refers to individuals or groups of individuals who are members of the public using on-line activity to uncover or "catch" alleged paedophiles involved in on-line child sexual abuse or interested in meeting children for the purpose of such abuse. A wide range activity may fall under this umbrella term...'

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/on...

'Police are encouraged to seek early investigative advice (EIA) in all OCAG cases using the EIA process available in each CPS area. This will assist officers to address any complex evidential issues, to focus their investigation and to bring to an early conclusion cases which are unlikely to meet the required evidential standard.'

Recently published Home Office report titled 'Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy'.

'This ground-breaking Strategy sets out the Government’s ambition to prevent, tackle and respond to all forms of child sexual abuse.

5. Our goal is to ensure there are no safe spaces online for offenders to abuse and exploit children. Across the NCA, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), National Cyber Force (NCF) and wider law enforcement, the Home Office will invest in the development of new technological capabilities to bring more technically sophisticated offenders to justice and help our partners identify and safeguard more victims and survivors. This includes enhancing the use of the UK’s world-leading Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

Dear Mr/Ms Moore

Enquiry Ref: 12498/2021

I write in connection with your request for information dated 2nd January 2021 and received by this office on that 4th January 2021te. Below are the questions raised in your request and all of the information we have been able to retrieve.

1a) Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children.
a) We have made enquiries with the PQR Performance team analyst and they gave advised that there were 46 sexual offences with a cyber-flag where the victim was aged under 16 recorded between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020 where an arrest was made.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with these arrests:
e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert number].
a) We have made enquiries with the PQR Performance team analyst and they gave advised that they were unable to find where the breakdown is recorded and it is not in the arrest description either. As an alternative they have provided the data by Home Office Offence codes which is how we record offences.

Crimes with an arrest
20A - Sexual Assault on Female aged 13 and over 1
020/05 - Sexual assault on a female 1
21 - Sexual Activity involving a Child under 13 6
021/02 - Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity - female child 3
021/03 - Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity - female child - no penetration 2
021/14 - Causing/inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity committed by children or young persons - offender under 18 - female child 1
22B - Sexual Activity involving a Child under 16 15
022/20 - Causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity - offender aged 18 or over - female child - no penetration 4
022/08 - Causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity - offender aged 18 or over - female child 3
022/09 - Causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity - offender aged 18 or over - male child 2
022/06 - Sexual activity with a child under 16 - female child 2
022/18 - Sexual activity with a child under 16 - female child - no penetration 1
022/24 - Causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity - offender under 18 - female child - no penetration 1
022/25 - Causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity - offender under 18 - male child - no penetration 1
022/12 - Sexual activity with a child under 16 - committed by children or young persons - offender under 18 - female child 1
71 - Abuse of Children through Prostitution and Pornography 4
071/01 - Arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence 2
071/10 - Arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography - child 13-17 1
071/08 - Causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography - child 13-17 1
88A - Sexual Grooming 20
071/17 - Engage in sexual communication with a child 12
088/01 - Meeting a female child following sexual grooming etc. (Offender is aged 18 or over & victim is under 16) 7
088/02 - Meeting a male child following sexual grooming etc. (Offender is 18 or over & victim is under 16) 1
Total 46

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to be a child.
2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by your own officers acting as decoys.
a) In relation to question 1c and 2 Cleveland Police would rely upon the following.

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1) (a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1) (b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

Cleveland Police neither confirms nor denies that it holds information relevant to this request by virtue of the following exemptions.
Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain Security Bodies;
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Section 40(5) Personal Information

Sections 23 & 40 are class based absolute exemptions and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.

Confirming or denying the existence of whether any other information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.

Section 40(5A)&(5B)(a)(i) of the Act provides:
(5A)The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were held by the public authority would be) exempt information by virtue of subsection (1).
(5B) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to other information if or to the extent that any of the following applies—
(a) giving a member of the public the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply
with section 1(1)(a)—
(i) would (apart from this Act) contravene any of the data protection principles.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018...

Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is designed to address information that is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018.
Under section 40(5), Cleveland Police is not required to comply with the requirements of section 1(1) (a) i.e. the duty to inform the applicant whether or not the information is held.

In most cases Personal Data is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act as I will explain below.

To confirm or deny whether personal information exists could publicly reveal information about an identifiable individual or individuals, thereby breaching the right to privacy afforded to persons under the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018.

Where an individual is requesting his or her own personal data the information is always exempt. Such information can be requested under other legislation.
Where an individual is requesting third party personal data Cleveland Police must ensure that any action taken adheres to the principles of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. To clarify, the Freedom of Information Act only allows disclosure of personal data if that disclosure would be compliant with the principles for processing personal data. These principles are outlined under section 34 of the DPA 2018 and under Article 5 of the GDPR.

Section 31 is prejudice based and qualified and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not whether information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.
Harm
As you may be aware, disclosure under FOIA is a release to the public at large. Whilst not questioning the motives of the applicant, confirming or denying that any information is held by forces would show areas of police vulnerability. The public expect police forces and other law enforcement agencies to use all powers and tactics available to prevent and detect crime or disorder and maintain public safety.
Law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention or detection of crime if the level of use of such tactics were openly discussed. This would impact on police resources, more crime would then be committed and individuals placed at risk.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31
By confirming or denying whether any relevant information is held, would allow the public to gain a greater understanding of where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may lead to more information from the public.

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31
Confirming or denying whether any information is held in relation to this request at this time would not be in the public interest and has potential to undermine any ongoing investigation. This would ultimately hinder the prevention and detection of crime.
The public entrust Cleveland Police to handle information they provide appropriately and in line with legislative guidelines, e.g. Data Protection Act. To reveal detail of whether or not such information is known to the Constabulary would act as a deterrent to the public to provide information to the force and also hinder the prevention or detection of crime.
Police forces rely on information being supplied by the public. Irrespective of what other information is or isn’t held, by applying substantive exemptions would indicate that information is held and is currently being investigated. Such action would act as a deterrent to the public to provide intelligence to the force which would further undermine public safety, with repercussions that could hinder the prevention or detection of crime.
Balance
The points above highlight the merits of confirming or denying whether information pertinent to this request exists. The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve.
The Police Service will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would place the safety of an individual at risk or undermine national security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and investigations, providing assurance that the Police Service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat from criminals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police operations when delivering effective operational law enforcement to ensure the prevention and detection of crime is carried out and the effective apprehension or prosecution of offenders is maintained.
At this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information exists.
Of course no inference can be drawn from these facts that any information does or does not exist.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual
a) 14

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.
a) In relation to the above question Cleveland Police would rely upon the following.
Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1) (a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1) (b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

Cleveland Police neither confirms nor denies that it holds information relevant to this request by virtue of the following exemption.
Section 40(5) Personal Information

Section 40 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.

Section 40(5A)&(5B)(a)(i) of the Act provides:
(5A)The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were held by the public authority would be) exempt information by virtue of subsection (1).
(5B) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to other information if or to the extent that any of the following applies—
(a) giving a member of the public the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply
with section 1(1)(a)—
(i) would (apart from this Act) contravene any of the data protection principles

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018...

Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is designed to address information that is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018.
Under section 40(5), Cleveland Police is not required to comply with the requirements of section 1(1) (a) i.e. the duty to inform the applicant whether or not the information is held.

In most cases Personal Data is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act as I will explain below.

To confirm or deny whether personal information exists could publicly reveal information about an identifiable individual or individuals, thereby breaching the right to privacy afforded to persons under the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018.

Where an individual is requesting his or her own personal data the information is always exempt. Such information can be requested under other legislation.
Where an individual is requesting third party personal data Cleveland Police must ensure that any action taken adheres to the principles of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. To clarify, the Freedom of Information Act only allows disclosure of personal data if that disclosure would be compliant with the principles for processing personal data. These principles are outlined under section 34 of the DPA 2018 and under Article 5 of the GDPR.
Please note that all statistical data supplied in relation to Freedom of Information requests is a snapshot of data held at the time the request was received by the Freedom of Information office and is subject to constant change/updates.

The Cleveland Police response to your request is unique and it should be noted that Police Forces do not use generic systems or identical procedures to capture and record data therefore responses from Cleveland Police should not be used as a comparison with any other force response you receive.

If you are not satisfied with this response or any actions taken in dealing with your request you have the right to request an independent internal review of your case under our review procedure. The APP College of Policing guidance states that a request for internal review should be made within 20 working days of the date on this response or 40 working days if extenuating circumstances to account for the delay can be evidenced.

We have made every effort to ensure a response was provided within statutory deadlines, however due to current circumstances delays have been unavoidable. If your response was late we apologise for any inconvenience it may have caused.

If we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact this office.

Yours sincerely

Mrs M Johnson
Freedom of Information Decision Maker
Department of Standard & Ethics | 1 Cliffland Way | Hemlington | TS8 9GL

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Public Service | Transparency | Impartiality | Integrity

“Delivering outstanding policing for our communities”

Please do not use social media or email to report crime as we do not monitor these accounts 24/7. Dial 999 in an emergency or visit the contact us section of our website for all reporting options.

show quoted sections

Dear Cleveland Police,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Cleveland Police's handling of my FOI request 'Paedophile hunters and online grooming'.

First, thank you for the useful information that you provided. I wish you, however, to review your decision to engage section 40 with regard to my fourth request:

'4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20'

Your response included:

'Section 40 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.

Section 40(5A)&(5B)(a)(i) of the Act provides:

(5A) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were held by the public authority would be) exempt information by virtue of subsection (1).

(5B) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to other information if or to the extent that any of the following applies—

(a) giving a member of the public the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply with section 1(1)(a)—

(i) would (apart from this Act) contravene any of the data protection principles http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018...

Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is designed to address information that is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018.

Under section 40(5), Cleveland Police is not required to comply with the requirements of section 1(1) (a) i.e. the duty to inform the applicant whether or not the information is held.'

Information of the sort that I have requested is already in the public domain. For example:

Stockton - Elite Predator Exposure

https://www.bitchute.com/video/k3SBDCHaI...

Stockton - Child Online Safety Team (COST)

https://www.bitchute.com/video/tREkBYPsj...

Middlesborough - One Reason

https://www.bitchute.com/video/EznugDB9P...

Furthermore, these groups livestream their activities on Facebook for the whole world to see - publicity is exactly what they want in their attempts to protect children from paedophiles. And it does not appear that you have contacted the groups concerned to ask them if they would object to having their names released. They may be relaxed about it.

Another reason for disclosing the names of the groups concerned is that their activities have been criticised by the authorities. Consider, for example, this report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland titled 'Strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse':

https://www.hmics.scot/sites/default/fil...

'Almost half of the online grooming cases emanate from the activities of online child abuse activist groups (vigilante groups), who are unregulated and untrained. A more robust proactive capability on the part of Police Scotland would reduce the opportunities for these groups to operate.' (page 5)

If the public knew the names of these groups, then they would know that they are 'unregulated' and 'untrained'. As things stand, the public may believe that such groups are an arm of the state and consequently approach them rather than the police for assistance. The personal details of suspects, and in some cases children, would then be disseminated to groups deemed unregulated and untrained. Instead of protecting personal information by invoking section 40 you may be doing the opposite.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

This mailbox is for Freedom of Information requests only and all other
mail will be deleted unactioned.

 

For Legal please forward your e-mail to
[1][email address] and for Subject Access please
check the Subject Access section of the Cleveland Police website under the
heading of ‘Advice and Information’ or forward your e-mail to
[2][email address] for all other
enquiries please contact Cleveland Police via 101.

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]

RUMINS, Samantha (C8894),

1 Attachment

Dear Mr/Ms Moore

 

Enquiry ref 12498/2021

 

I have been requested to carry out an internal review of Cleveland
Police’s response to your FOI request.

 

By request dated 2^nd January 2021, you raised the following questions:

 

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding
online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with
these arrests:

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert
number]; section 12 of SOA 2003

[insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of
SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert
number].

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one
child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to
be a child.

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection
with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by
your own officers acting as decoys.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection
with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to
you by so-called paedophile hunters.

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who
provided information

 

You received a response on 1^st February 2021, and the response to
Question 4 was refused. Your request was refused by the Freedom of
Information Decision Maker as she found that the information was exempt by
virtue of Section 40(5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This was a
class based exemption therefore there is no requirement to consider public
interest in this case.

 

I have reviewed your request and it is my determination that the
information if exempt by virtue of Section 40(5) of the Freedom of
Information Act 200 in that the duty to confirm or deny:

 

(a)    does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were
held by the public authority would be exempt information by virtue of
subsection (1); or

(b)   The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to other
information if or to the extent that any of the following applies— (i)
giving a member of the public the confirmation or denial that would have
to be given to comply with Section 1(1)(a) would (apart from this Act)
contravene any of the data protection principles.

 

To confirm or deny whether this Personal Information is held or exists
could reveal information which could lead to identification of a person or
persons, thereby breaching the Data Protection Act and General Data
Protection Regulation 2018. Cleveland Police must adhere to the Data
Protection Principles when considering requests for disclosure of third
party personal information. These principles are outlined under Section 34
of the Data Protection Act 2018 and Article 5 of the General Data
Protection Regulation 2018.

 

Please treat this as a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of this internal review you can
appeal to the Information Commissioner at the following address:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Or alternatively email [1][email address]

 

Kind regards

 

Samantha Rumins

 

 

C8894 Samantha Rumins

Senior Paralegal/Practice Manager

Evolve Collaborative Legal Services

 

Community Safety Hub | 1 Cliffland Way | Hemlington | TS8 9GL

Postal Address –  St Marks House | St Marks Court | Thornaby | Stockton on
Tees | TS17 6QW

DX 68801 Middlesbrough 7

 

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D69262.86CDE8A0

 

Find us on LinkedIn at Evolve Legal

 

Public Service | Transparency | Impartiality | Integrity

 

WITH REGRET, DUE TO COVID-19, THE OFFICE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED. HOWEVER,
STAFF ARE NOW WORKING REMOTELY. PLEASE SEND ALL CORRESPONDENCE VIA EMAIL
TO [3][email address]. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR
CO-OPERATION AND UNDERSTANDING WHILE WE DEAL WITH THIS EMERGENCY
SITUATION.

 

Please do not use social media or email to report crime as we do not
monitor these accounts 24/7. Dial 999 in an emergency or visit the
[4]contact us section of our website for all reporting options.

 

Please be advised that this communication and associated communications
may be protected by legal professional privilege or litigation privilege
and as such should not be disclosed to any other person without reference
to Evolve Legal Services and the recipient.

 

 

References

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1. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. https://www.cleveland.police.uk/contact-...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

ICO contacted.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

'Thank you for your correspondence of 6 March 2021 in which you made a complaint and provided supporting information about the above public authority’s handling of your request for information.

Your complaint has been accepted as eligible for further consideration and will be allocated to a case officer as soon as possible.

... Currently the waiting time is approximately four months before being allocated to a case officer...'

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Useful information:

Home Office counting rules - sexual offences (effective from April 2021)

'Sexual grooming

General Rule: One crime for each child.

Examples

1: A 60 year old male posted photographs of his teenage son on internet chat rooms and posed as his son. Following frequent internet chats with two 13 year old girls he encouraged them to travel to a London Station to meet him for sex.
Two crimes (class 88/1-88A).

2: A sports coach arranges for his 14 year old star pupil to meet up for a winter training week in Spain with him. He is arrested at Heathrow in possession of condoms and lubricants which he admits were for a sexual use on his star pupil.

One crime (class 88/1 –88A

'Principal Crime Example: see General Rules Section F and Annex C.

If a person has sexual activity with a child following grooming, record the substantive sexual offence only. A 40 year old male posted photographs of his teenage son on internet chat rooms and posed as his son. Following frequent internet chats with two 13 year old girls he encouraged them to travel to a London Station to meet him for sex. He has sexual intercourse with one of them and is arrested meeting the other girl.

One crime (class22/12 -22B) and one crime (class 88/1 -88A).'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

BBC News (13/5/21)

'The body overseeing criminal sentences in England and Wales is proposing treating paedophiles who are caught in stings the same as abusers who harm real children.'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57095465

Impact Assessment, The Home Office
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Sex offender management (g/h pages 6-7/16-19/24-25/31-34/49-59/75-76/80)

Information on polygraphs (49)

'Government intervention is necessary to address this gap in criminal law and ensure that those that arrange or facilitate child sex offences targeting children under the age of 13 are sentenced considering the additional vulnerability of the intended victims.'

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bi...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

You may be interested in this request relating to sexting and the Outcome 21:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

Information on the Outcome 21:

https://www.slaterheelis.co.uk/crime/pri...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

You may be interested in this:

'National Police Chiefs’ Council Responding to Online Child Abuse Activists

2.2 Analysis of incidents of activism has revealed a mixed picture. Some activist groups have amended their mode of operation such that they pass packages of information to the police without having real world contact with the person suspected of offending behaviour. Whilst this is a positive development many groups continue to insist on carrying out a physical intervention and only notify the police post or concurrent to the event. This is less desirable for reasons that have been previously articulated. There is an increased prevalence of direct criminality where purported activists have no intention to notify the police but use the opportunity of an encounter to extort or rob.

2.3 The complex, nuanced and often overlapping nature of activism and volunteering make it difficult to be prescriptive as to the approach to be taken. It is not legally practicable for policing to develop memoranda of understanding or protocol of operation with activists without risking claims of abuse of process. Where the state is seen to circumvent statutory regulation by sub-contracting work to public volunteers it is highly likely that criminal prosecution will be stayed.'

https://www.npcc.police.uk/2019%20FOI/NP...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

"I have written to Cleveland Police and asked it to revisit your request. It may wish to reverse or amend its position. If it does, it will contact you again directly about this."

D. Moore left an annotation ()

I have received a 'preliminary letter' from the ICO which includes:

'Given the particular circumstances of these cases and her limited resources, the Commissioner considers that issuing six decision notices would serve no useful purpose and the chance of further information being disclosed is negligible.

Regardless of whether a police force has cited an incorrect exemption, at best a decision notice, would order a fresh response without reliance on that incorrectly cited exemption. She therefore proposes to conclude these complaints and close the cases.

Should you wish to challenge the Commissioner’s position at the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) then she will issue a Decision Notice.'

I have given reasons why I disagree and have requested a Decision Notice. The Decision Notice may persuade me not to appeal.

Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Moore,

 

Case Reference – IC-92701-X1Z3

Cleveland FOI Reference – 12498/2021

 

I write in response to the letter dated 18th October 2021 and received by
this office on 19th October 2021 from the Information Commissioners Office
regarding your complaint to them.

 

You advised the ICO that you wished to challenge the application of the
exemption to question 4. And you advised the ICO:

 

“So-called paedophile hunter groups livestream their activities, so their
names are in the public domain already. The NCND response doesn't make
sense given that it is common knowledge that such groups operate in
Cleveland. The links I provided in my IR request demonstrating the
activities of hunter groups in Cleveland now lead nowhere
('Noncepocalypse' broke BitChute's rules). Releasing the names requested
would harm no one.”

 

We have made additional enquiries within the force and would wish to
withdraw our previous response, in relation to question 4, and submit the
below response.

We had previously considered that there may be an indirect risk of
identification of an alleged suspect if information disclosed could be
linked to additional information that you held or had obtained from other
sources.

 

Following additional enquiries we can advise that having read through the
MO’s for all of the 46 sexual offences with a cyber-flag where the victim
was aged under 16, recorded between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020 and
where an arrest was made, we have identified 27 where a paedophile hunter
group was mentioned (directly or indirectly) in relation to an arrest.

Below is a list of those mentioned, it should be noted that of the 27 12
are only mentioned/recorded as “Online Paedophile Hunters” and had no
organisation name as such recorded.

North West Hebphile (Paedophile) Hunters        2

Confronted and Caught                                               
2             

Dark
Justice                                                                       
1

Keeping Kids
safe                                                            1

UK
Justice                                                                          
1

Guardians of the North                                                 6

Fleetwood Enforcers                                                      1

Under Cover and Exposed                                           1

Online Paedophile Hunters                                         12

 

Please note any data supplied in relation to Freedom of Information
requests is a snapshot of data held at the time the request was received
by the Freedom of Information office and is subject to constant
change/updates.

 

The Cleveland Police response to your request is unique and it should be
noted that Police Forces do not use generic systems or identical
procedures to capture and record data therefore responses from Cleveland
Police should not be used as a comparison with any other force response
you receive.

 

We have made every effort to ensure a response was provided within
statutory deadlines, however due to current circumstances delays have been
unavoidable.  If your response was late we apologise for any inconvenience
it may have caused and thank you for your patience.  If we can be of any
further assistance please do not hesitate to contact this office.

 

I should be grateful if you would advise the ICO caseworker, direct, if
this new response in relation to question 4, is acceptable to you

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Ms E McGuigan

Freedom of Information Decision Maker

Information Management Unit

Cleveland Police Central Headquarters, 1 Cliffland Way | Hemlington | TS8
9GL
E-mail: [1][email address]

 

[2]Website | [3]Facebook | [4]Twitter | [5]Instagram | [6]LinkedIn

 

[7]cid:image003.png@01D4A2BA.16CFF050

       

Public Service | Transparency | Impartiality | Integrity

 

“Delivering outstanding policing for our communities”

 

 

Please do not use social media or email to report crime as we do not
monitor these accounts 24/7. Dial 999 in an emergency or visit the
[8]contact us section of our website for all reporting options.

 

 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. https://www.cleveland.police.uk/
3. https://www.facebook.com/clevelandpolice/
4. https://twitter.com/ClevelandPolice
5. https://www.instagram.com/clevelandpolic...
6. https://www.linkedin.com/company/clevela...
8. https://www.cleveland.police.uk/contact-...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

According to one website, the number of "Live Stings" carried out last year by paedophile hunter teams was around 1,000. The number of "Active Teams" in the UK is put at 70:

https://nonce.tv/

(many more teams are named)