S31: Law enforcement


  • Applies to information that “would or would be likely to prejudice” the purpose of law enforcement, taxation, and various other types of regulatory activity;
  • Qualified exemption, therefore consideration of the public interest test is required;
  • Duty to confirm or deny does not apply if this would in fact disclose the exempt information;
  • Closely related to exemption s30, information may be exempt if disclosure would be likely to prejudice:
    • the prevention or detection of crime;
    • the operation of immigration controls;
    • the exercise of ascertaining whether any person is guilty of inproper conduct or breaking the law;
    • ascertaining a person’s fitness or competence in relation to that person’s profession;
    • protecting persons (other than at work against risk to health and safety in connection with the actions of persons at work);
    • determining the cause of an accident or protecting or recovering charities or its properties;
  • It is likely that there will be increased pressure for the release of information relating to disasters / large investigations that were previously covered in some detail by the media. The balance of the public interest will be tested.

Sources of further information

More detailed guidance notes about this exemption can be found by viewing the following links: