Dear Wyre Forest District Council,
I am looking for data on vacant properties which may have been left abandoned. The essential data required are the addresses.
We buy houses and renovate them, and then rent them out to families in need of decent homes. I should therefore be pleased if you could supply this data.
We look forward to hearing from you.
With regards to your recent FOI request, I confirm that Wyre Forest
District Council holds the information you have requested. However, we
are withholding the information pursuant to section 31 (1)(a) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act), public authorities are not
obliged to release information that would be likely to prejudice the
functions of law enforcement, namely the prevention and detection of
Providing the information requested could increase the risk of:
•Buildings to be targeted by squatters, criminals or terrorists' intent on
hiding or depositing proceeds of crime or terrorist materials •Premises to
be identified as short term hiding places by criminals or terrorists
•Premises to be targeted by vandals or street artists
In reaching our decision, we have taken account of the Information
Tribunal Case Number EA/2011/007 (the Camden case) where the Tribunal was
satisfied that the evidence suggests that disclosure of this information
would have the effect of assisting at least some of those wishing to
engage in squatting, leading to an increase in the instances of such
activity. The Tribunal concluded that an increase in squatting would also
lead to various categories of associated criminal activity and found that
section 31(1)(a) was engaged. This means that it was likely that
disclosure of the information related to empty properties would have a
negative impact on the prevention of crime.
In a case involving Hertsmere Borough Council in March 2017, the
Information Commissioner's Office has re-confirmed section 31 does apply
for information relating to empty properties (ICO reference FS50623497).
Section 31 is a qualified exemption, and we are obliged to consider the
public interest test.
Facts in favour of disclosure
The facts in favour relate to the promotion of transparency and
accountability of public authorities which we have considered.
There are also benefits to the wider public to raise the profile of unused
or vacant properties to encourage public debate.
Facts in favour of maintaining section 31(1)(a) exemption The Council
believe there are strong arguments in favour of maintaining this
exemption. In the Camden case, the Tribunal noted an inherent public
interest in crime prevention as well as the high costs associated with
squatting such are repair, security, and eviction costs.
The impact of squatting not only affects the property owners, but the
surrounding communities and public authorities involved. The Tribunal
found the combined factors in favour of maintaining the exemption
contributed considerable weight to the public interest in withholding the
Taking the above issues into account, we consider there to be no
overriding public interest in releasing this information.
If you have a complaint about the handling of this Freedom of Information
Act enquiry you can view our complaints procedure at:
Freedom of Information | Wyre Forest District Council
You can also contact the Information Commissioner, using the contact
details at: http://ico.org.uk/
Wyre Forest Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information Officer
Wyre Forest District Council
Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY11 7WF
[Wyre Forest District Council request email]
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