Please send me all documentation related to an inspection visit made by The National Archives (TNA) to the three branches of Suffolk Record Office (SRO) in 2011. And also all documentation related to the ‘Self-Assessment Survey Return’ made by Suffolk Record Office in 2010.
If any further inspections, or similar, have been conducted by TNA since 2011, then I request that information also.
I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.
We are able to provide this information to you. Please find attached documents:
• Report – TNA Inspection 2011 (Bury St. Edmonds)
• Report – TNA Inspection 2011 (Ipswich)
• Report – TNA Inspection 2011 (Lowestoft)
• Suffolk Self-Assessment Return 2010
• Suffolk Record Inspection 2011
• Suffolk Results Letter 2010
Some of the information is covered by the exemptions at section 31(1) & 40(2) of the FOIA and this information has been redacted from the attached documents.
Section 31(1) of the Act exempts information if its disclosure under this Act would, prejudice (a) the prevention or detection of crime.
Section 40 exempts personal information about a ‘third party’ (someone other than the requester), if revealing it would breach the terms of the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. The DPA prevents personal information from release if it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the subject had officially served notice that releasing it would cause them damage or distress.
For further information about why these exemptions have been applied, please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this letter.
Section 31(1): 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
Section 31 is a qualified exemption. We are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and the information must be released. In the FOIA there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.
The public interest test has now been concluded and the balance of the public interest has been found to fall in favour of withholding information covered by the section 31(1)(a) exemption. Considerations in favour of the release of the information included the principle that there is a public interest in transparency and accountability through disclosure of information about government procedure and processes.
However, release of this information would make The Suffolk Records Office more vulnerable to crime, as the reports contain details on The Suffolk Records Office’s security systems. As such release of this information would prejudice the prevention or detection of crime (section 31(1)(a)) by making The Suffolk Records Office security systems more vulnerable to crime at a given time. There is an overwhelming public interest in keeping government security systems secure which would be served by non-disclosure. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It was therefore decided that the balance of the public interest lies clearly in favour of withholding the material on this occasion.
Further guidance on section 31 can be found here:
Section 40(2): Personal Information where the applicant is not the data subject
The DPA prevents personal information from release if it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the subject had officially served notice that releasing it would cause them damage or distress.
In this case, the exemption applies because this information represents the personal information of junior members of staff at The Suffolk Record Offices. Publishing the names of junior members of staff is considered an unfair use of personal data. As such, the names and positions of junior officials are withheld under section 40(2) of the FOIA. To release the direct contact details of these individuals into the public domain would see a vast increase in the amount of correspondence directed to their personal accounts, which would be unfair in that it would have a considerable detrimental impact upon their ability to perform their role and carry out the functions associated with that role effectively. In addition, the fact that there exists a reasonable and reasonably accessible alternative method of contacting individual members of staff, via the Suffolk Record Office website, further diminishes the argument that there would be any further value gained from the release of this additional information.
Further guidance can be found at:
You may also find the following links useful:
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