FOI request (FOIR-125358927)
Requested Tue 18 June 2019
Responded Fri 28 June 2019
This is an information request relating to artwork owned by your local authority. Please provide the following information:
How many artworks have been purchased by the local authority in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19?
How many artworks are in the possession of the local authority?
What is the estimated value of the artworks?
How many of the artworks are on public display?
Public display includes those that can be viewed by the members of the public in local authority buildings such as council headquarters, libraries, sports and leisure centres, and schools that are under local authority control. It would exclude areas of council properties that cannot be readily be entered into by members of the public (such as, for example, the office of the head of paid service).
Artwork includes, but is not limited to, paintings, photographs, sculptures and electronic art.
ResponseQ1 - NoneQ2 - Hastings Borough Council has 7913 art works recorded on the collections management systemQ3 -
Notice of Refusal
Please note that I consider the information you have requested concerning the value of all art works to be exempt information under S31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act in that disclosure of that information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
The exemption afforded by S31(1)(a) is subject to what is known as the 'public interest test'. When applying the test in a particular case a public authority is deciding whether the public interest is better served by non-disclosure than by disclosure.
Although the Freedom of Information Act does not define 'in the public interest', there is a presumption under Freedom of Information that openness is in the public interest. In applying the public interest test a public authority will take into account the distinction that has been often made by courts between things that are in the public interest, and things that merely interest the public. Where applicants have not identified public interest considerations succinctly or accurately, the public authority has a responsibility under the Act to make their own assessment of the public interest considerations in the particular case.
We have identified the following public interest factors that may be seen as encouraging the disclosure of information:
a) furtherance of understanding and participation in the public debate of issues of the day
b) promotion of accountability and transparency by public authorities in the decision they make and the spending of public money
c) allowing individuals and companies to better understand decisions made by public authorities which affect their lives
We consider these factors to be generally of limited or no relevance in relation to the information in question.
Public interest factors seen as encouraging non-disclosure are, generally, the exemptions themselves. In consideration of this matter we came to the following conclusions:
a) that there is no evidence of a wider public (rather than individual) interest in disclosure
b) that the disclosure of the information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime
c) that the nature of such prejudice is real and substantial and that there is a real and significant risk of such prejudice
d) that crime associated with valuable works of art whether owned by organisations, has a substantial detrimental effect upon other individuals in the neighbourhood and wider community
e) that the motives behind the request (albeit not provided to us) have no relevance since disclosure would mean the information would be in the public domain
In weighing the factors for and against disclosure we have concluded that the likely benefit to the applicant and the wider public of disclosure is outweighed by the likely prejudice caused by such disclosure and that therefore the public interest is
better served by non-disclosure.Q4 - Artworks are spread across several council buildings. The museum has around 100 works on display currently.
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