FOI request detail

Hammersmith Bridge - Structural Reports

Request ID: FOI-0865-2021
Date published: 18 September 2020

You asked

Under FOI regulations, please release the most recent engineers structural report seen by TFL on Hammersmith Bridge.Please release the full document. Under FOI regulations please release the previous engineers structural report seen by TFL on Hammersmith bridge. Please release the full document.

We answered

Our Ref:         FOI-0865-2021

Thank you for your request received on 20 August 2020 asking for a copy of the structural reports for Hammersmith Bridge.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.

In accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply the requested reports as they are subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under sections 24 and 38. We consider that section 24(1) applies in order to safeguard national security and section 38(1)(a) and (b) applies as disclosure would be likely to endanger the health and safety of individuals.

In this instance the exemptions have been applied as disclosure of the information you have requested could assist persons wishing to disrupt London’s transport infrastructure by placing into the public domain information which would otherwise not be available via any accessible means.

The current threat level in the UK remains severe, and there have been attacks and suspicious devices found at transport hubs across London, including bridges. The detail provided in the requested reports could be used by persons with nefarious intentions.

The requested reports contain very detailed descriptions of the bridge, structural drawings, and photographs taken during inspections which provide significant detail as to the condition, material composition, structure, size and potential strengths and weaknesses that exist on the bridge. The reports also identify areas on the structure that are not easily visible or publicly accessible that could be used as the location of an incendiary device. Provision of this information would reduce the opportunity for intervention as suspicious behaviour is more likely to be detected and apprehended if an individual cannot access information about security arrangements and structural information via the internet, and instead has to physically visit a site in order to view and assess the security arrangements.

The Information Commissioner’s Office have issued a Decision Notice regarding the application of sections 24 and 38 to withhold information. Whilst the information requested in this case is different to the information you have requested we believe the same arguments can be applied:

The use of these exemptions are subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, and acknowledge that there is some public interest in this information from a public safety perspective. However, disclosure of this information to you has to be regarded as a disclosure to ‘the public at large’. This information could potentially be obtained and utilised by individuals who may wish to use this information to cause disruption or harm to London’s transport infrastructure. In this instance, minimising the risk to transport infrastructure and protecting the welfare of members of the general public outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The impact of current circumstances on TfL’s resources means we are not able to answer FOI requests readily and we ask that you please do not make a request to us at present.
Answering FOI requests will require the use of limited resources and the attention of staff who could be supporting other essential activity. In any event, please note that our response time will be affected by the current situation.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

[email protected]

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