FOIA Section 31 Exemption
Section 31: Law Enforcement
Section 31 is concerned with protecting a wide range of law enforcement interests and its application turns on whether disclosure would be likely to prejudice those interests.
Some interests that are protected by section 31 are drawn quite widely, for example: the administration of justice, the prevention or detection of crime and the operation of immigration controls. But section 31 also applies where the exercise by any public authority of certain specified functions would be prejudiced by disclosure. Those functions include: ascertaining whether a person is responsible for improper conduct, determining the cause of an accident and ascertaining a person's fitness to carry on a profession.
- Section 31 only applies in cases where the information does not fall within section 30;
- The structure of section 31 is quite complex and it will be necessary to have careful regard to the important differences between the way in which the various categories of information are framed
- The categories within section 31 may overlap and consideration should be given to all categories that may apply.
- Section 31 is subject to a public interest balance.
Official DCA guidance: http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/guidance/exguide/sec31/index.htm
What the law says
31 Law enforcement
- (1) 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—
- (a) the prevention or detection of crime,
- (b) the apprehension or prosecution of offenders,
- (c) the administration of justice,
- (d) the assessment or collection of any tax or duty or of any imposition of a similar nature,
- (e) the operation of the immigration controls,
- (f) the maintenance of security and good order in prisons or in other institutions where persons are lawfully detained,
- (g) the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2),
- (h) any civil proceedings which are brought by or on behalf of a public authority and arise out of an investigation conducted, for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2), by or on behalf of the authority by virtue of Her Majesty’s prerogative or by virtue of powers conferred by or under an enactment, or
- (i) any inquiry held under the [1976 c. 14.] Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 to the extent that the inquiry arises out of an investigation conducted, for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2), by or on behalf of the authority by virtue of Her Majesty’s prerogative or by virtue of powers conferred by or under an enactment.
- (2) The purposes referred to in subsection (1)(g) to (i) are—
- (a) the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply with the law,
- (b) the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper,
- (c) the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise,
- (d) the purpose of ascertaining a person’s fitness or competence in relation to the management of bodies corporate or in relation to any profession or other activity which he is, or seeks to become, authorised to carry on,
- (e) the purpose of ascertaining the cause of an accident,
- (f) the purpose of protecting charities against misconduct or mismanagement (whether by trustees or other persons) in their administration,
- (g) the purpose of protecting the property of charities from loss or misapplication,
- (h) the purpose of recovering the property of charities,
- (i) the purpose of securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work, and
- (j) the purpose of protecting persons other than persons at work against risk to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the actions of persons at work.
- (3) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1).
ICO Lines To Take
|Relevant Lines to Take|
|Complaints upheld / partly upheld (P)||Complaints not upheld|
Includes DNs up to: 26 April 2010
|12 21 22 22A 23 24 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44|