FOI request (FOIR-172852082)
PCN cancellation policy
Requested Thu 06 February 2020
Responded Wed 06 May 2020
Query 1: I would like to request a copy of all policy and guidance documents that are available to council officers who are tasked with considering the question of whether a Penalty Charge Notice should be cancelled. For the avoidance of doubt, this request covers any policy that is published or otherwise publicly available, plus any internal council guidance or policy that is only available internally to council staff (such as any internal policy that outlines in what circumstances the council may exercise its discretionary powers to cancel a PCN).
Query 2: Please could you also disclose the training material that is used to train the council officers who make decisions regarding the cancellation of PCNs. This should cover only training material that is directly relevant to their role in deciding whether a council PCN should be cancelled, any other training material (such as generic council training, health and safety, GDPR or training related to other roles or functions) is not within the scope of this request.
Again for the avoidance of doubt, both queries above cover policies and training material available to council officers who deal with informal representations, formal representations and appeals to the tribunal.
Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.
Copies of our Parking Places Orders are available here https://www.hastings.gov.uk/parking/orders/.
Guidance on challenging a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) can be found here https://www.hastings.gov.uk/parking/challenging/
Further details on the PCN process can be found here: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/parking/pcns/pcnprocess/. Formal representations; there are 9 grounds to make representations as laid down in the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007. A copy of the Notice to Owner is attached. If the formal representation is rejected a vehicle owner can appeal to an Independent Adjudicator. Further information on what the adjudicator can consider and how to appeal can be found here www.trafficpenaltytribunal.gov.uk/appeal.
Blue Badge Scheme: rights and responsibilities in England https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-blue-badge-scheme-rights-and-responsibilities-in-england/the-blue-badge-scheme-rights-and-responsibilities-in-england#where-can-i-park
NOTICE OF REFUSAL
Please note that I consider the information you have requested to receive copies of internal policy used of officers of the council regarding the cancellation of penalty charge notices 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.
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) the release of this policy would be an advantage to the requester when appealing a PCN.
d) 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.
Hastings Borough Council does not hold specific training material, officers use the internal policy refused in Query 1.
Freedom of Information