Long term Empty Commercial Buildings

Sian Evans made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Hackney Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Hackney Borough Council.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please can you provide me with the following information under the
Freedom Of Information Act 2000:-

(a) addresses of “long term empty” Commercial properties that are
within Hackney Borough Council area; and

(b) the names of the owners of those properties referred to in (a

Yours faithfully,

Mary MacClean

Information Management,

Dear Ms Evans

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – request for information.
I acknowledge your request for information received on 21 May 2012.

Your request is being considered and you will receive a full response to
your request, within the statutory timescale of 20 working days (from the
day after the request is received) as defined by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. 

If appropriate, the information may be provided in paper copy, normal font
size. If you require alternative formats, e.g. language, audio, large
print, etc. then please let me know.

The Act defines a number of exemptions, some of which are subject to a
public interest test that may prevent release of the information. You will
be informed if this is the case, and you have a right to appeal against
our decision. Information relating to this will be included in any refusal
notice issued.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.

There may be a fee payable for this information. This will be considered
and you will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must
be paid before the information is processed and released. The 20 working
day time limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact
[1][email address]  

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Information Management

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Matthew Wolff,

Dear Ms MacClean

 

Freedom Of Information Act 2000 - Information Request

 

Thank you for your recent request under the Freedom of Information act in
which you asked for a list of empty properties.

 

Exemption Section 31 –

 

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 30 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 required to disclose the addresses of empty
properties within the borough where they are not owned by individuals.

 

The Council has however also noted the decision made by the Information
Commissioner in relation to a similar request received by the London
Borough of Tower Hamlets. 

 

It was the Commissioners view that, whilst the direct impact on those
particular private individuals who own properties might not be present for
organisationally owned properties, this does not mean that the impact of
crime on individuals is completely absent. The Commissioner accepted that
crime associated with empty properties can have a substantial detrimental
impact upon the occupants of neighbouring properties and the wider
community.

 

The Commissioner considered that there is a substantial public interest in
bringing empty properties back into use, which might be met to some extent
by disclosure of the addresses in this case. However he weighed the
benefits of this potential longer term effect together with the more
general public interest in accountability and transparency, against the
more immediate likely prejudice to the prevention of crime and the effects
of this on both individuals, and other bodies. His conclusion in this case
was that the public interest in avoiding prejudice to the prevention of
crime outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

 

The London Borough of Hackney has a similar demographic make up to Tower
Hamlets and has experienced significant problems with squatting and on
balance we feel the public interest is better served by withholding this
information.

 

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as
a Public Interest Refusal Notice.

 

We apologise that your request will not be met but if you have any further
information needs in the future then please contact us.

 

If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to appeal, please
write to the Information Governance Team, Appeals, Corporate ICT, 3^rd
Floor Maurice Bishop House, Reading Lane, E8 1HH and your complaint will
be dealt with through our Internal Review procedure.

 

If you are still not satisfied following the Internal Review, you have a
right to appeal to the Information Commissioner. He can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF 
Telephone: 01625 545 700
[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 
 
 
 
Matthew Wolff
Revenues Complaints Officer
Finance and Resources Directorate
 
T: 0208 356 3917
F: 0208 356 3683
E: [2][email address]
W: [3]www.hackney.gov.uk

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Hackney Service Centre on: 020 8356 3000.

References

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1. http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.hackney.gov.uk/