demolition orders under the Building Act 1984- Section 80(2). (FOI-3979)
Dear *****, *****
Re: Freedom of Information Request.
Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, received 19 august 2019. Your request has been considered and our response is in bold below.
You requested the following:
Under the freedom of information act, can you please provide me a list of addresses for which the local authority has issued demolition orders under the Building Act 1984- Section 80(2).
The Council’s Response
In relation to your request for a list of addresses for which the local authority has issued demolition orders under the Building Act 1984- Section 80(2). For the period 1 April 2010 to date.
Section 40(2) Personal Information
The information you have requested includes the personal data of 3rd Parties. Under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), personal data includes any information that can identify, or, together with other information, can identify a ‘living individual’.
The Council has to consider whether disclosure of the information would comply with any of the data protection principles set out in the DPA, as well as whether disclosure would contravene Article 21 of the GDPR (general processing: right to object to processing). In this case the Council is unsatisfied that disclosure would be fair and lawful.
As such the Council considers S40(2) Personal Information of the FoI Act 2000 to be engaged. This is an absolute exemption.
Section 31 Prevention and detection of Crime
The information which you have requested is exempt under section 31(1)(a) ‘Law enforcement ’, of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, states:
Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 31 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
We have applied Section 31 (1) (a) to your request because of the risk of increased crime that would likely occur if a list of empty properties was released to the wider public under a freedom of information request. We consider that the public disclosure of the requested information would likely increase the risk to empty properties of illegal entry and illegal use if entered.
Empty properties are often associated with criminal activity from organised local gangs and whilst squatting itself is not an offence, it is associated with criminal activity. Disclosure of the list would be of use to squatters and would, on a balance of probability, lead to significant harm in the form of criminal activity such as vandalism. It is also likely that organised gangs will use the information for criminal purposes. Further, such properties may be exposed to a greater risk of arson or criminal damage, which if carried out may endanger other persons in neighbouring properties.
The Information Tribunal decision which related to a request for list of empty properties within the London Borough of Bexley ruled that the Council in this case was not required to disclose the addresses of empty properties within the borough where they are owned by individuals.
The Tribunal found that disclosure of such a list would be likely to have a significant negative impact on the prevention of crime. Their conclusion was that the information is exempt under section 31(1)(a) of the Act on the basis that disclosure of a list of empty and uninhabitable properties would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
We accept that there is some public interest in knowing how local properties are used and occupied and that such information may be useful for a variety of purposes including, for example, demographic research. We also understand the pressing issue of bringing empty properties back into use where this is possible.
However on balance, we consider that there is a greater public interest in the withholding of the information due to the safety considerations of the public.
Appeals & Complaints Procedure
If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to appeal, please write to the Information Management Team and this will be dealt with through our Internal Review procedure.
Information Management Team - Governance
London Borough of Hackney
Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
London E8 1DY
Your request for an internal review should be submitted to us within 40 working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the Council.
If you are still not satisfied following the Internal Review, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at the contact details provided below.
Information Commissioner"s Office
Telephone: 01625 545 700
Information Management Team
London Borough of Hackney