Hampshire County Council receives regular enquiries for information about welfare/public health funerals and for details of bona vacantia/no next of kin estates.
The County Council does not hold responsibility for welfare/public health funerals. Under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984, district councils will arrange funerals for those who die without anybody willing or able to make the arrangements.
From time to time the County Council may become aware that individual service users have died leaving no next of kin. In this case, the Council refers relevant details to the Treasury Solicitor who will publish them at a later date on its Bona Vacantia website.
The County Council does not disclose such details on its own website, nor in response to Freedom of Information requests. It considers that details of those who have died leaving no next of kin are exempt from disclosure under the following exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Section 12 makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit. The appropriate limit for public authorities is £450. This equates to 18 hours of officer time in determining whether the public authority holds the information requested, locating, retrieving and collating this information.
Details of relevant names and locations of deceased will be published at a later date by the Treasury Solicitor on its Bona Vacantia website. It is not in the public interest for the County Council to employ public resources in the disclosure of such information which it does not use for any business purpose and only passes on to the Treasury Solicitor. Details can be accessed via the Treasury Solicitor website and at its bona vacantia website.
If the names and locations of the deceased were disclosed, empty properties could be targeted for criminal purposes. Such properties may still contain personal property. The County Council does not consider that it would be in the public interest to disclose information relating to empty properties prior to assessment of the estate by the Treasury Solicitor. Disclosure of other details such as names of the deceased would allow properties to be easily identified together with other information easily available in the public domain.