Disclosure Details

Firearms - 203/12

Dated: 07 Jun 2011

Date of request: 15/02/2012

Date of response: 01/03/2012

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

Thank you for your email dated 15th February 2012 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 by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked: 

  1. How many firearms licenses were issued by your police force in 2011?

  2. Also, approximately how many firearms licenses are in circulation?

  3. Just out of interest, are any of those licenses held by MPs who have their constituency in your area?  If that last question is too broad, I’d like to narrow it down to just MPs who have shotgun licenses.

In response:

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 Firearms Department of Northumbria Police.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.

I have decided to disclose the located information to you as follows.

1. Between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2011 there were 209 firearms certificates granted and 815 firearms certificates renewed.  Please note that this data refers to only those persons who have been granted firearms certificates and not shot gun certificates.

2. There are 3625 certificates in force as at 31 December 2011 in the Northumbria Police force area.  Please note that this data refers to only those persons who have been granted firearms certificates and not shot gun certificates.

3. In relation to this part or your request Northumbria Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you requested as the duty in S1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:

 Section 40 (5) Personal information
 Section 31 (3) Law Enforcement

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

 Section 40 (5) Personal information
 Under the Freedom of Information Act, information that is disclosed is released to the public as a whole and not just to the individual applicant.  As such, Northumbria Police would not wish to confirm or deny to the public at large whether information is held about any individual.  Section 40 (5) of the Act is applied where disclosure could lead to the identification of an individual.  How this could be done is explained below.

 Section 31 is a prejudice based qualified exemption and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not that the information is held, as well as carrying out a public interest test.  I have set these out below.

 Section 31 (3) Law Enforcement
 Disclosure of this type of information may be harmful to both Northumbria Police and local communities as it would enable criminals to assess where firearms may be held.  This would be detrimental to our ability to effectively police and protect individuals and would also have an adverse effect for the public as criminals may target those identified with the intention of stealing such weapons.

 Public Interest Test:

 Considerations in favour of Disclosure
 Provision of this data would reassure the public that Northumbria Police are aware of individual circumstances regarding such weapons and are able to record and monitor effectively.

 Considerations in favour of Non-Disclosure
 Due to the low number of constituencies in the force area, if this request was made regularly or following a by-election then it would be possible to map out and identify individuals.  This information would therefore lead to the identification of individual licence holders (as per Section 40 (5) explained above) and put them at risk of theft as it would indicate where firearms may be kept.

 Information released under the Freedom of Information Act is released into the public domain, therefore we can not control who has access to it.  It is not in the public interest for Northumbria Police to provide information which may assist criminals in their activities.


 In this instance, it is Northumbria Police’s decision that the reasons for non-disclosure outweigh those in favour of disclosure.

 No inference can be taken from this refusal that the information you have requested does or does not exist.

 You should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for that part of your request.

You should note that firearms statistics are published annually by the Home Office.  The most recent publication is for statistics up until 31 March 2010 and can be accessed via the following link.
The next edition is due to be published at the end of the month and will include statistics up to the end of March 2011.

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.

How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.


FOI Complaint Rights Procedure_tcm4-28029