Our Ref: FOI/16127
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST
I refer to your request for information received on 27th September 2017.
In accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, your request has been considered and is refused in accordance with the Act. This letter acts as a Refusal Notice.
Please could you provide details of any form of license or registration of firework retailers within the west midlands area for the year 2014, 2015, 2016. Please where possible detail location of premises licensed and any details on the retailing organisation.
Your request has been refused, the exemptions applied are as follows:
Section 31(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides a qualified exemption for release of information if its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice:
(g) the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2)
In this case, purposes from subsection 2 that apply are:
(i) the purpose of securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work,
(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.
Reason why the exemption applies
West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service issues licenses for the storage of fireworks to ensure that they are stored safely. Disseminating the requested information would prejudice this activity as it would release precise details of where the fireworks are stored into the public domain. The information could endanger the health, safety and welfare of the people who work at these sites due to the increased threat, and consequences of, arson attacks on these buildings.
Section 38 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides a qualified exemption for release of information if its disclosure would, or would be likely to
(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or
(b) endanger the safety of any individual
Reason why the exemption applies
The exemption applies for similar reasons to those that apply to section 31 described above. The disclosure of the information would be likely to endanger the physical health and safety of any individual due to the increased threat, and consequences of, arson attacks on the buildings specified as storing fireworks.
Public Interest Test Reasons
West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service has concluded that the public interest in maintaining these exemptions outweighs the public interest in disclosure. This decision is based upon the following reasons:
In assessing the balance of the public interest test, we are particularly mindful that the Act works on an ‘applicant blind’ basis and that by providing information to one person, we set a precedent for making it available to anyone else who asks for it.
There is a strong public interest in the authority doing all it can to protect the health and safety of members of the public and the people who work at places where fireworks are stored. This is one of the primary reasons why we hold the requested information and disclosing it would undermine this purpose, which would not be in the public interest.
While there may be some public interest in providing details of firework retailers for commercial purposes, the benefit of this does not outweigh the potential consequences of endangering the health and welfare of people.
Duty to advise and assist.
Under section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, public authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance to people making requests for information.
I can therefore tell you that it is possible that you may be able to request the information under other legislation, in particular The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005.
In order for you to make a request under these regulations, I would suggest that you review the categories of explosives covered by the Regulations and the quantities that dictate the kind of registration or licence required. I would direct you to Schedule 4 of the Regulations.
While the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is ‘applicant blind’ as stated earlier, the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 are not. Before we would consider disclosure under the Regulations we would ask you to provide your name, full postal address and whether you make your request as a business owner or individual and your reasons for requesting the information. If you are a business we would need to know what kind of business you own.
You should also be aware that we are permitted to charge for disclosure under the Regulations and may place restrictions on how you can use any disclosed information in the future.
Should you have any queries regarding this, please contact me.
Please acknowledge receipt of this information.
If you are dissatisfied with this response, you have the right of appeal through the West Midlands Fire Service internal complaints procedure by setting out the grounds of your appeal in writing to our Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW.
If you are dissatisfied after pursuing the complaints procedure, you may apply to the Information Commissioner under Section 50 of the Act for a decision whether your request for information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of Part I of the Act. Contact details as follows:-
Information Commissioner’s Office
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone 01625 545 700