23 December 2014

South Yorkshire Police Firearms and Ammunition Losses

Our Reference:
2014-007

Public Authority:
South Yorkshire Police.

Background Information:
We were asked to enquire about weapons and ammunition lost or stolen whilst owned or under the control of South Yorkshire Police.

This request was received shortly after the news that a 7 year old girl had been injured by a Nottinghamshire Police officer discharging his firearm during a demonstration. Given this recent unfortunate event, FOI By Proxy took the opportunity to seek additional information about the number of times South Yorkshire Police officers had accidentally or negligently discharged firearms in public places. We had previously placed a similar request with Northumbria Police.

The request was placed on 15th November 2014 and the public authority provided a response on 2nd December 2014, which was well within the 20 working day statutory time limit. On this occasion the public authority disclosed the requested information in full.

Request by FOI By Proxy (sent 15th November 2014):
Dear South Yorkshire Police,

I am making this request under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please provide the following information in relation to firearms and ammunition owned or under the control of South Yorkshire Police.

1. The number and description of firearms lost or stolen in each of the years 2010 to date.

2. The number and description of ammunition rounds lost or stolen in each of the years 2010 to date.

3. The number of CS (or other incapacitant spray) canisters lost or stolen in each of the years 2010 to date.

4. The number of times firearms have been accidentally or negligently discharged by South Yorkshire Police officers in public places in each of the years 2010 to date.

Please provide your response in electronic format to the return email address associated with your request.

Many thanks for your assistance with this.

[Name]
On behalf of FOI By Proxy

Acknowledgement by South Yorkshire Police (received 17th November 2014):
South Yorkshire Police acknowledged our request on 17th November 2014.
 
Response by South Yorkshire Police (received 2nd December 2014):
South Yorkshire Police provided the following information in response to each point of our request:

1. The number and description of firearms lost or stolen in each of the years 2010 to date.
  • None.
2. The number and description of ammunition rounds lost or stolen in each of the years 2010 to date.
  • None.
3. The number of CS (or other incapacitant spray) canisters lost or stolen in each of the years 2010 to date (please note that South Yorkshire Police has now issued amended figures).
  • 2010 = 0
  • 2011 = 1
  • 2012 = 2
  • 2013 = 4
  • 2014 = 5
4. The number of times firearms have been accidentally or negligently discharged by South Yorkshire Police officers in public places in each of the years 2010 to date.
  • 1 instance in 2014.
Supporting Material:
Material supporting this request can be viewed here.

Analysis:
Comparing this South Yorkshire Police response with the earlier corresponding response from Northumbria Police, it can be seen that South Yorkshire Police has a greater tendency to lose CS canisters.

It is noted that whereas Northumbria Police has around 3,750 sworn members (e.g. police officers of whatever rank, uniformed or otherwise, eligible for the issue of CS canisters), South Yorkshire Police only has around 2,700. As South Yorkshire Police has far fewer sworn members, the fact they lose far more CS canisters may be significant, perhaps highlighting inefficiencies in the way CS is issued and accounted for within the South Yorkshire Police area.

Of course the operational requirements of the South Yorkshire Police area are probably very different to those of the Northumbria Police area, which may provide an alternative explanation for the differing statistics. More information will be required to assess whether or not the greater number of CS canister losses in the South Yorkshire Police area really is significant.

South Yorkshire Police's response also indicates that one of their officers accidentally or negligently discharged a firearm in a public place sometime in 2014. This aspect also needs further exploration, as the discharge of any firearm in a public place is a matter of concern.

We submitted a follow up request to South Yorkshire Police, which sought additional information about the circumstances of these CS canister losses and accidentally/negligently discharged police firearm.

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