Disclosure Details

Child harbouring 583/16

Dated: 07 Jun 2016

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act') 

Thank you for your e mail dated 9 May  2016 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions. 

You asked:

We are particularly interested in the apparent upsurge in the number of COWN notices, formerly known as child harbouring notices, being served by Northumbria Police.

1.Please can you advise how many COWN/ harbouring notices have been served by Northumbria Police, year on year for the last 10 years? If this is too difficult to obtain, please provide the last 5 years.

2. Secondly, please can you advise what proportion of those notices have resulted in prosecution for child abduction, or if it is easier, what proportion of prosecutions for child abduction charges have involved the issue of COWN notices prior to the commencement of criminal proceedings?

3. Finally, please can you advise upon what authority, statutory or otherwise, these COWN notices are being issued by Northumbria Police? 


We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Crime Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police. 

I have to advise that our response below relates to Child Abduction Warning Notices (CAWN) - not COWN

We have been able to provide 9 years worth of data within the time scales and I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows. 

1. With regards to point 1, for the years 2011 to 2015 the below exemption has been considered as relevant

As the information you have requested is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request. 

I have provided an explanation to this exemption below. 

Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means 

Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.

This information has been disclosed previously and is in the public domain via the Disclosure Log on the Northumbria Police website.  It is therefore freely available.

FOIs 051/16 and 443/16 refer.  The link to the Log is below.

The remaining years are as follows:

2008 – 0

2009 – 15

2010 - 14

2016 - 40 *as of 16/05/16


2008 – 0

2009 – 5 prosecutions for child abduction, 1 linked to the service of a CAWN

2010 – 1 prosecution for child abduction, 1 linked to the service of a CAWN

2011 – 1 prosecution for child abduction not linked to the service of a CAWN

2012 – 6 prosecutions for child abduction,  1 linked to the service of a CAWN

2013 – 3 prosecutions for child abduction not linked to service of a CAWN

2014 – 1 prosecution for child abduction linked to 1 CAWN

2015 – 3 prosecutions for child abduction 1 of  which was linked to service of a CAWN

2016 -  5 prosecutions for child abduction 3 of which were linked to service of a CAWN.

3. There is no statutory or other legislative provision dealing specifically with the issue of Child Abduction Warning Notices. Breach of a Notice is NOT a criminal offence. These Notices are simply part of an administrative process. These Notices can provide evidence to support the prosecution of other criminal offences and/or to support civil proceedings such as ASBOs, evictions or injunctions.

Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another.  Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data.  For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.

The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police.  Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation.  In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.