Empty Commercial Properties with RV in excess of £45,000

The request was refused by Enfield Council.

Natalie Davis

Dear Enfield Council,

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

(a) hereditament addresses and rateable value of empty Commercial properties with a current rateable value in excess of £45,000 that are within Enfield Council area;

and

(b) the names and addresses of the ratepayers of those properties referred to in (a)

Yours faithfully,

Natalie Davis

[1]Enfield Logo

Response
Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 25/05/2011 05.29
PM

Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate team or service holding
the information and that team will respond to your request and contact you
where required.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from
releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 25/05/2011 05.29
PM

Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate team or service holding
the information and that team will respond to your request and contact you
where required.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from
releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

Thank you for your question. Please take a look at these Answers from our
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Discussion Thread
Customer (Natalie Davis) 25/05/2011 05.29 PM
Dear Enfield Council,

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

(a) hereditament addresses and rateable value of empty Commercial
properties with a current rateable value in excess of **45,000 that
are within Enfield Council area;

and

(b) the names and addresses of the ratepayers of those properties
referred to in (a)

Yours faithfully,

Natalie Davis

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Question Reference No110525-000039
Date Created: 25/05/2011 05.29 PM
Last Updated: 25/05/2011 05.29 PM
Status: Correspondence team

References

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Dear Enfield Council,

Thank you for the link you have set up. However this link has expired. Please could you open the account again.

Yours sincerely,

Natalie Davis

[1]Enfield Logo

Response
Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 24/06/2011 05.13 PM

Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate team or service holding the information and that team will respond to your request and contact you
where required.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

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Discussion Thread
Customer (Natalie Davis) 24/06/2011 05.13 PM
Dear Enfield Council,

Thank you for the link you have set up. However this link has
expired. Please could you open the account again.

Yours sincerely,

Natalie Davis

show quoted sections

Simon Ranyard, Enfield Council

Dear Ms Davis

Please accept my apologies that this reply was not sent within the expected timescale for a response.

As with other previous requests for this information I must refuse your request for the following reasons.

The Council holds information regarding empty properties for the purposes of Business Rates collection. The only means by which such data can be accessed would be by processing the data held with reference to identifying which properties received a relevant empty property exemption/charge.

The exemption and discount information may be personal to the owners of the properties concerned and would thus involve the processing of personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act prohibits disclosure of personal data, defined as "Data which relate to a living individual who can be identified: from those data, or from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of the data controller". The definition of personal data is not limited to the disclosure of an individuals name but can mean any information relating to an identifiable person, directly or indirectly by reference to e.g. an identification number or to one or more factors specific to e.g. economic identity.

Under the Freedom of Information Act requests for information that would contravene any of the data protection principles are exempt under Section 40. Having considered the Data Protection Principles the Authority has decided that those principles would be contravened and cannot provide you with the information sought. This is an absolute exemption under the Act.

Another exemption applicable is under Section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act that in this Authority's view also applies to this request. This section provides that information is exempt from disclosure if such disclosure would prejudice the "prevention or detection of crime". Putting the addresses of empty properties (residential or otherwise) within the Borough into the public domain would in the Authority's view compromise the security of the buildings concerned and would prejudice the objectives of preventing criminal behaviour. We consider there is a significant risk that releasing details of empty properties might lead to burglary, arson or squatting. Within the borough there have been occasions when fires have been set in empty properties. In relation to domestic and commercial empty properties, there is also known use of such empty properties to commit benefit fraud, identity fraud and money laundering.

We have consulted with other Boroughs who have also received similar requests, we have been advised that concerns have also been expressed by the Metropolitan Police. These concerns indicate that release of the information sought would in the police's view increase the potential for the properties to be targeted by squatters, by criminals or terrorists intent on hiding or depositing proceeds of crime or terrorist materials. There is also the potential for premises to be identified as short-term hiding places by criminals or terrorists. We have consulted our local police and they have confirmed the number of incidents of crimes carried out on empty properties, and their view is that disclosing this information would prejudice the prevention of crime.

These incidents would support the concerns the Authority has as to the prejudice to the prevention of crime in the borough if the information were disclosed. The Act does not allow the Council to enquire as to motives, nor do we have any control over distribution of the information once it is released into the public domain.

Section 31 is a qualified exemption to which the public interest test must be applied. There do not appear to be any obvious public interest considerations that would weigh in favour of disclosure beyond that wherever possible it is in the public interest for them to have access to information. There is however in our view clear public interest considerations that weigh in favour of not disclosing the information since to do so would prejudice the objective of prevention of crime which is of course in everyone's interests. Having considered whether the public interest weighs in favour of disclosure or non-disclosure in this instance the Authority has decided that it is not in the public interest to release such information.

regards

Simon Ranyard
Business Rates Team Leader
Email: [email address]
Tel : 0208 379 4766
Fax: 0208 379 5180


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