- Date released
- 8 April 2020
- Request number
- Release of information under
- Freedom of Information Act 2000
I have been directed to this process following an investigation by yourselves into an electrical near miss at AWE Aldermaston of a Gully Howard Technical employee.
Following the near miss several of your colleagues began an investigation; we require the conclusion of this investigation to complete our own.
Unfortunately AWE have avoided our enquiries and requirements for documentation and our hope is that with the powers you have we will be able to maximise our learning points and improvements moving forward.
I confirm under Section 1 of the FOIA that we hold the information related to your request. However, we are withholding the information under Section 31 - Law Enforcement of the FOIA . This is because at the time of your request the relevant investigation has not yet been completed.
Section 31 sets out the exemption from the right to know where disclosure of the information requested would or would be likely to prejudice law enforcement interests.
We consider section 31(1)(g) to apply to the report in your request as its disclosure would be likely to prejudice ONR’s exercise of its functions. Public authorities in applying this exemption must identify one of the applicable purposes specified in section 31(2) and explain how that purpose would be prejudiced by the disclosure.
We consider the relevant connected purpose to be in section 31(2)(i) which concerns the purpose of securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work.
As this is a qualified exemption, we are required to balance the public interest between disclosure and non-disclosure. We have therefore applied the Public Interest Test, as set out below:
Section 31(1)(g) and 31(2)(i) FOIA – Law enforcement
Factors for release:
- Use of the exemption provides no further information to the public and represents a frustration of ONR’s policy of openness and transparency;
- There is a general public interest in disclosing information that promotes accountability and transparency in order to maintain trust and confidence in regulatory bodies;
- Issues related to the nuclear industry are subject to close scrutiny and debate, there is a public interest in information related to nuclear activities and the release of such information. The information may provide reassurance to the public about the safety of nuclear sites. It may also facilitate the accountability and transparency of ONR for decisions taken by them as a regulator and enforcing authority of the nuclear industry.
Factors against release:
- There is a strong public interest in protecting the ability of a public authority to enforce the law. Under the provisions of the Energy Act (TEA) 2013 and the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974, ONR has statutory powers to investigate and also make reports on relevant matters including health and safety issues on nuclear licensed sites. Disclosing the information in the request would be likely to prejudice ONR’s ability as the nuclear regulator to exercise its functions under the provisions of TEA 2013 and HSWA 1974.
- At the time of your request the investigation of the relevant incident at AWE Aldermaston has not yet been completed. Disclosing the requested information before the formal investigation and ONR’s internal decision-making processes have been concluded would therefore be likely to prejudice our ability to manage any issues raised in an effective manner away from external interference and distraction.
- Disclosure of investigation conclusions at this stage is not consistent with accepted formal practices concerning investigations. Releasing the requested information would therefore prejudice the integrity and fairness of regulatory due process not only for ONR but for affected parties.
Based on our assessment of the factors above, we have concluded that the requested information should be withheld under Section 31 (1)(g), and Section 31 (2)(i) of FOIA 2000. The public interest favours non-disclosure in the present case as disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice ONR’s exercise of its regulatory functions for the purposes of securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work, particularly given the stage of the specific investigation.
Section 1, 31(1)(g) and 31(2)(i)
PIT (Public Interest Test) if applicable
Yes, please see above.