Annex A - FOI-21-4462
Section 31(1)(a): Law Enforcement - Prevention of Crime
Section 31(1)(a) exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the
prevention or detection of crime. The release of this information could compromise
HS2 Ltd’s security and make the organisation vulnerable to the criminal activity of
individuals or groups seeking to exploit the construction industry, in particular this
high-profile infrastructure project, for criminal financial gain.
Please see https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/section/31
for details of this
is subject to the public interest test which is below.
Factors supporting disclosure
• General public interest in the disclosure of information to ensure transparency and
visibility of public bodies being held to account regarding decisions made and use
Factors supporting non-disclosure
• Releasing this information would likely compromise the security of HS2 Ltd and the
fraud team’s ability to protect the organisation from financial criminality and its
ability to conduct investigations into allegations of fraud.
• Fraud and corruption are particularly common in the UK construction industry and
these criminal activities within public construction projects results in the financial
burden being borne by the public purse. As such a high-profile infrastructure
project, HS2 Ltd is acutely aware of its responsibility to secure value for money for
the UK taxpayer.
• The ability of HS2 Ltd to appropriately defend against fraud and investigate issues
would be compromised by released of detailed information on capacity and
capability in relation to Fraud investigations. HS2 Ltd needs to be able to securely
maintain the arrangements it has in place to protect both the organisation and the
public purse and to uphold public confidence in HS2 Ltd’s ability to do so.
• There is an inherently strong public interest in Hs2 Ltd carrying out investigations
to prevent and detect fraud. To allow the effectiveness of investigations to be
reduced, as described in the harm above, is not in the public interest.
The decision to withhold the information is upheld in light of the arguments against
Annex A - FOI-21-4462
While the public interest considerations favouring disclosure are noted, this must be
balanced with the impact any release would have on the operational capability of the
HS2 Ltd to effectively investigate fraud.
Disclosure of this information is likely to cause harm to HS2 Ltd by exposing the
organisation to unacceptable risk of financial criminality by parties, jeopardising HS2
Ltd’s ability to do business.
Therefore, having considered the arguments for and against release the greater public
interest is served in maintaining the integrity of HS2 Ltd’s ability to protect against
fraud, and this in turn favours maintaining the exemption in relation to the withheld