Dear Blaby District Council,

I am requesting a list of full addresses* and previous usage for all buildings/properties, both residential and commercial between the dates of 1st Jan 2016 - today’s date (2021) that:

1. Are derelict, abandoned or vacant and are owned/used by Blaby District Council.

2. Blaby District Council know of to be derelict, abandoned or vacant.

3. Have been reported to the Blaby District Council or building control section/counterpart as being derelict, abandoned or vacant.

4. Have been reported to Blaby District Council or building control section/counterpart as being dangerous, and if possible the reason for why it is dangerous.

*Full address consists of:
Building/Flat Number
Street Name
Town
City
Postcode

I would like to have the information as a spreadsheet.

Yours faithfully,

Oscar Hardy

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Blaby District Council

Dear Oscar Hardy,

Freedom of Information Request – FOI-21-281

I acknowledge receipt of your request for information which was received on the 22/03/2021.

Your request is being considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”) and will be responded to within 20 working days, as defined by the Act. This is subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party.

Responses to requests for information are sent by email, using normal font size, unless you have requested otherwise. If you do have any particular requirements for the format of our response (including for re-useable formats), please do let us know.

For more on how the Council handles requests, including where exemptions may apply or when fees are payable, please visit our website at: https://www.blaby.gov.uk/your-council/da....

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the Information Governance Team on 0116 272 7678 or by emailing [email address].

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Team, Blaby District Council

To find out about how we use the personal information you have supplied us please review our privacy notice on our website.

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Freedom of Information Mailbox, Blaby District Council

2 Attachments

Dear Oscar Hardy,

Freedom of Information Request – FOI-21-281

Please find attached and below a response to your request for information, which was received on 22/03/2021, and has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 200 (“the Act”).

I am requesting a list of full addresses* and previous usage for all buildings/properties, both residential and commercial between the dates of 1st Jan 2016 - today’s date (2021) that:

1. Are derelict, abandoned or vacant and are owned/used by Blaby District Council. Please see attached.

2. Blaby District Council know of to be derelict, abandoned or vacant. Please see attached.

3. Have been reported to the Blaby District Council or building control section/counterpart as being derelict, abandoned or vacant. Please see attached.

4. Have been reported to Blaby District Council or building control section/counterpart as being dangerous, and if possible the reason for why it is dangerous. Please see attached.

Please note that we were unable to provide any details of dangerous structures prior to January 2018, as these records are held manually. Due to COVID 19 restrictions, home working is in force until further notice.

I can confirm that the council does hold information relevant to your request on a database for the purpose of holding a list of addresses that are derelict, abandoned and dangerous. However, we consider that this information is exempt from disclosure under sections 40(2) and 31(1)(a) of the Act.

The Council does not believe the release of information to be appropriate in the circumstances and sets out it’s rationale below.

Consideration of s31 of Freedom of Information Act 2000

The relevant exemption within Section 31 of FOIA is that information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention or detection of crime (s31(1)(a).

The Council accepts that the perceived prejudice must be "real, actual or of substance" and not trivial or insignificant and that there must be some causal relationship between the potential disclosure and the stated prejudice. In this case, the decision at first instance is that such prejudice exists. If information was released which enabled a list of empty dwellings to be deduced, then those empty properties would become more vulnerable to crime.

Putting the addresses of empty properties (residential or otherwise) within the District into the public domain would, in the Council’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 illegal activities.

We have consulted with other local Authorities who have also received similar requests; we are also aware that previous disclosures by local authorities have led to concerns being expressed by Leicestershire 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 or by criminals for the purposes of hiding or depositing the proceeds of crime. There is also the potential for premises to be identified as short-term hiding places by criminals. Previous consultations with the police have resulted in confirmation that their view disclosing this information would prejudice the prevention of crime.

The application of this exemption is subject to the public interest test and the Council is mindful that there is a public benefit in returning long term empty properties to use. However, the Council is also aware that the positive public interest in returning empty properties to use, is outweighed by not making data available which could be used to assist illegal activities and as such the Council maintains the application of the exemption and will not release the requested information.

In addition to the points raised above, the Council has concerns for the personal data aspects of your request; address details.

The relevant part of section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states:

‘(1) Any information to which a request for information relates is exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject.

(2) Any information to which a request for information relates is also exempt information if—
(a) it constitutes personal data which do not fall within subsection (1), and
b) either the first or the second condition below is satisfied.

(3) The first condition is—
(a) in a case where the information falls within any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition of “data” in section 1(1) of the [1998 c. 29.] Data Protection Act 1998, that the disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene—
(i) any of the data protection principles, or….’

Whilst the DPA 1998 has been repealed, the Council has had a consideration of whether or not the data represents personal data in the context of the request. In order to do this, the definitions under the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR have been applied in place of the referenced 1998 Act. Personal data is defined under the General Data Protection Regulation as any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person;

The Council accepts that it holds some of the requested information. However, your request not only refers to empty property, but also to the potential detail of their respective owners. As such the Council believes that the disclosure of this data would be disclosure of data in circumstances outside the reasonable expectation of the data subject. As a result the Council believes that the disclosure of address information relating to empty properties owned by identifiable individuals must be considered personal data in this context.

The information provided in response to Freedom of Information requests is subject to copyright protection. Where the copyright is owned by Blaby District Council, re-use is permitted in accordance with the terms of the Open Government Licence. However, we do ask that you attribute the information to Blaby District Council when re-using it.

Where third party copyright is identified, you will need to contact the copyright owner directly should you wish to re-use their information.

Should you be unhappy with the way your request has been handled you can ask for an internal review by emailing: [email address]. The Legal and Information Governance Officer will then arrange a review of your case.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. For more information, please visit: www.ico.org.uk.

If you have any further queries, please email [email address] quoting the above reference number.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Team, Blaby District Council
To find out about how we use the personal information you have supplied us please review our privacy notice on our website.

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