Suffolk Archives Accreditation

FOI request reference: CAS-70762-T4S2C3
Publication date: November 2021

Request

I request all documentation concerned with the Archive Service Accreditation of the Suffolk Record Office service (now called ‘Suffolk Archives’) produced or received since your awarding of provisional accreditation in March 2019.

Outcome

Some information provided.

Response

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request and we are pleased to be able to provide you with some of the information you have requested.

We are unable to provide you with a small amount of information within these documents as this is covered by exemptions at sections 40(2) and 43(2) of the FOI Act.

Section 40(2) exempts personal information about a ‘third party’ (someone other than the requester), if revealing it would breach the terms of Data Protection Legislation.

Section 43(2) exempts information if its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any legal person. The section 43(2) exemption has only been applied to a small amount of information on page 14 of document 1, page 2 of document 5, and page 1 of document 9 (items 6 and 7 only). Please see below for a list of the documents attached to this email. All other redacted information has been withheld under section 40(2).

For further information about why these exemptions have been applied, please see the explanatory annex at the end.

We have searched our records and found eleven documents to be of relevance to your request. Please see the web-links below to access the following:

1. Report on progress in the move from provisional to full accreditation.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/01-2021-03-30sareportingprogressfromprovisionaltofullaccreditationapplicationform2019redacted.pdf.

2. Suffolk Archives PowerPoint presentation.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/02-2021-05-27suffolkarchivesupdate.pdf.

3. The minutes of the Archive Service Accreditation Panel relating to Suffolk Archives.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/03-archiveserviceaccreditationpanelminutesofmeeting.pdf.

4. Outcome email from the Archives Service Accreditation provisional review.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/04-archiveserviceaccreditationprovisionalreviewoutcomeemailredacted.pdf.

5. Note for the Archives Service Accreditation Panel on the application to move from a provisional to a full award.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/05-provisionalreviewsuffolkarchivesnoteforpanelredacted.pdf.

6. Letter attachment to item 4.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/06-provisionalreviewsuffolkarchivesredacted.pdf.

7. Correspondence between TNA and Suffolk Archives concerning the move from Provisional status.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/07-rearchiveserviceaccreditationreportingonmovefromprovisionalstatusemailsredacted.pdf.

8, 9, 10 & 11. Emails concerning a visit by Jeff James, CEO of The National Archives, to visit Suffolk Archives in order to present the accreditation certificate. Please note that this visit did not go ahead due to the first national lockdown in March 2020.
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/08-2020catchupmeetingwithsuffolkarchivesredacted.pdf
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/09-agendafortomorrowafternoonsmeetingredacted.pdf
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/10-jeffjamesvisittothehold7thmayredacted.pdf
https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/11-movingpublicrecordstotheholdanddatefornextcatchupredacted.pdf

EXPLANATORY ANNEX

Exemptions applied

Section 40(2): Personal Information where the applicant is not the data subject
Section 40 exempts personal information about a ‘third party’ (someone other than the requester), if revealing it would breach the terms of Data Protection Legislation. Data Protection Legislation 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. Personal information must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner as set out by Art. 5 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For the majority of information that is exempt, this exemption applies because the requested material contains information which would identify members of staff.

Publishing the names and contact details of junior members of staff is considered an unfair use of personal data. Junior members of staff would have no expectation that information about their positions would be made available in the public domain; to do so would be unfair and contravene the first data protection principle of the Data Protection Act. As such, the names, positions and contact details of junior officials are withheld under section 40 (2) of the FOI Act.

Further guidance about the publication of junior staff names can be found here:
https://ico.org.uk/media/fororganisations/documents/1187/section_40_requests_for_personal_data_about_employees.pdf.

The exemption also applies because the requested material contains the personal and the sensitive personal information of a number of identified individuals assumed still to be living. These individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy which would not include the release of this information into the public domain by The National Archives during their lifetime. To do so would be likely to cause damage and/or distress and would be a breach of the first data protection principle, which is concerned with the fair, lawful and transparent processing of information of this kind.

Further guidance on the application of this exemption cab be found here:
https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/2619056/s40-personal-information-section-40-regulation-13.pdf.

Section 43(2): Commercial Interests
This section exempts information whose disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any legal person. In this case, the exemption applies because release would likely prejudice the commercial interests of Suffolk Archives.

Section 43(2) is a qualified exemption and 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 43(2) exemption.

Considerations in favour of the release of the information included a presumption in favour of openness and transparency, in order to allow public scrutiny and to demonstrate that public funds are being used in an efficient and effective way. Furthermore private sector companies engaging in commercial activities with the public sector must expect some information about those activities to be disclosed.

Factors in favour of withholding this information include the consideration that the release of this information would likely prejudice Suffolk Archive’s relationship with funding bodies, and its ability as a public authority to conduct commercial operations.

Furthermore disclosure of this information is also likely to affect Suffolk Archives’ ability to negotiate contracts in the future and consequently generate revenue from non-public funds. It is also considered that disclosure would be likely to deter potential bidders for future contracts from competing and sharing commercially sensitive information with them.

As such, release of this information is seen to prejudice the commercial interests of Suffolk Archives. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It was therefore decided that the balance of the public interest lies in favour of withholding the material on this occasion.

Further guidance on the application of this exemption can be found here:
https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/foi-guidance/section-43-commercial-interests/.