Audit trail for IOPC refusal of a FOI request

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Independent Office for Police Conduct,
Thank you for completing my recent FOI regarding a query as to the manner the IOPC dealt with a request. Obviously I have marked that request as closed because you have provided the information as to how the appeal was conducted but, on the basis of that response, I would appreciate further knowledge as to how the FOI request was progressed and ultimately refused by your office.
The previous request, your reference 1009288, can be viewed at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

To reiterate the PREVIOUS questions and response
PREVIOUS Q1.The final decision to maintain the complete redaction of the crucial sentence was signed by your independent reviewer Mike Benson, Head of Finance, on the 5th May.Please disclose what FOI training or legal qualifications have been achieved by Mr Benson to enable him to complete FOI reviews, and how many FOI reviews has he completed in the past 12 months.
PREVIOUS Q1 RESPONSE.Mr Benson has received our in-house data protection and freedom of information training delivered to all staff. Our reviewers are not selected for any specific FOI, data protection or legal qualifications but because they were not involved in the initial decision making and perform a more senior role in the organisation. Including your own request Mr Benson has carried out two FOI reviews in the last 12 months.
PREVIOUS Q2.The initial response to FOI 1009057 was supplied on 26th March 2021.Please advise why this initial response was also signed by Mr Benson as the guidelines specify that an appeal review should be completed by someone different to the person who completed the initial response.
PREVIOUS Q2 RESPONSE.The handwritten signature we included in our letters of 5 May 2021 and 26 March 2021 is not Mr Benson’s own signature. Our letter of 5 May omitted to include ‘pp’ below the signature so as to indicate that the letter was being signed on Mr Benson’s behalf.

NEW FOI Q1. Wth reference to your treatment of 1009057 what is the audit trail of the request within the IOPC to establish how you deal with FOI requests? Who at the IOPC received the FOI request and why did they forward it to Mike Benson, Head of Finance, only for him to then delegate it to someone to act on his behalf (hence pp). Please disclose a copy of the attachment, if any, made to the FOI request when it was forwarded by the original recipient to Mr Benson to advise him how to proceed.Why does Mr Benson have such a key role in dealing with initial FOI requests when his primary function is as IOPC finance and the public would expect you to have a dedicated FOI structure in place.Who,if anyone,is your head of FOI and do they have assistants? I appreciate from your response that "Mr Benson has received our in-house data protection and freedom of information training delivered to all staff ". Please disclose how all your staff receive this basic FOI training, who conducts the training, do the trainees keep a copy of the training material and receive certificates of completion and, if so, who signs the certificates ? Please disclose a copy of your in house data protection and FOI training.

NEW FOI Q2.Mr Benson was apparently given the sole authority to review and reject the appeal review on behalf of the IOPC simply because he was not involved in the initial decision making and performs a more senior role in the organisation, despite only having completed one previous appeal review in the previous 12 months.Please disclose how many appeal reviews have been completed by the IOPC altogether in the past 12 months and who completed them.

NEW FOI Q3.When did Mr Benson receive his initial in house FOI training and any subsequent refreshers? Who does Mr Benson report to?

End of new FOI requests.
This request is not vexatious. I am quite annoyed that the IOPC have refused my request to disclose redacted material relating to an anonymous individual who was seriously injured in a police incident, as I do not consider the grounds to be valid. I know I have the right to complain to the ICO but I am making this request to understand how your Head of Finance is entrusted to forward requests and make final decisions on behalf of the IOPC, and how the whole FOI handling process seems so unstructured with everyone having basic in house training and unclear accountabilities. I have gone to considerable trouble, unpaid and in my own time, to post these requests and I get the possibly mistaken impression that the IOPC play safe by being obstructive without being accountable, contrary to the public interest.I have asked to see your in house training, which Mr Benson has received, to see what guidance was provided to assist him in completing reviews.

Yours faithfully,

Dennis Fallon BScHons

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

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!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

Dear Mr Fallon

Thank you for your email requesting information. This is being considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). We will now consult with the relevant department to gather the response to your request.

We propose to respond to you on or before the 27 July 2021 in line with the timescales prescribed by the FOIA.

While we are aiming to complete your request within that timeframe, it is possible that our response will be delayed as a result of our current working arrangements under the COVID-19 outbreak. We will keep you updated should we be unable to respond by the due date.

If you have any questions about this request please contact us. Please remember to quote reference number 1009363 in any future correspondence about this matter.

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information & Data Protection Team
Independent Office for Police Conduct
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
0300 020 0096

www.policeconduct.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter at: @policeconduct
Find out how we handle your personal data.
The IOPC is proud to have achieved Customer Service Excellence accreditation

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Fallon

Thank you for your email of 28 June 2021 in which you make a request for information.

As this request is clearly motivated by your dissatisfaction with the outcome of our review, we strongly recommend that you read the Information Commissioner’s guidance to which we refer in our letter and consider carefully whether this guidance is supportive of our decision. If you continue to be dissatisfied you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner.

We would emphasise that neither the FOIA nor the Code of Practice issued under section 45 prescribes that internal reviews should be carried out by any particular person in the relevant public authority and there are no requirements as to their background, experience, training or qualifications. The Code of Practice states only that the procedure “should provide a fair and thorough review of procedures and decisions taken in relation to the Act” and “It is best practice, wherever possible, for the internal review to be undertaken by someone other than the person who took the original decision”.

It follows that any information we provide as to the particular qualifications and experience of Mr Benson would not assist you in pursuing your complaint, since the outcome would be decided entirely under the criteria contained in the guidance concerning the exemption for personal information, and the previous decisions of the Commissioner, Tribunal and Courts on which the guidance is based. For this reason, we suggest that the information you are now requesting could not make any difference to your right of access to the disputed information.

Freedom of information requests to the IOPC are normally decided in the first instance by the Information Asset Owner (IAO) for the information in question. An IOPC Information Asset Owner (IAO) is a senior individual in the organisation, whose role it is to understand what information is held, the purpose for which it is held, how we use this information and the destruction of this information. All of our FOIA reviewers are IAOs.

Mr Benson is an IAO and has therefore received our IAO training. This is a modified version of the all-staff DP/FOI training we mentioned in our previous email. IAOs receive an initial induction to their role from the Data Protection Officer (DPO). They also receive a modified version of the all staff DP/FOI training. This training is delivered in person to groups of IAOs by the DPO or members of her team. The discussion of FOI takes place in relation to the attached power point slide, which is similar to the relevant slide in the all staff training. There are no other training materials relevant to your request.

The FOI and DP team is headed up by our DPO. There are two Senior FOI and DP Advisors who deal with FOI requests on a day to day basis.

We aim to pass reviews to an IAO who was not involved with the original decision, as was the case with Mr Benson. It is usual practice for the person who advised on the initial response to advise the reviewer. In this case, the following advice was given to Mr Benson:

“Mr Fallon is complaining about the redaction of a particular force case reference and a line of text describing the injuries sustained by the arrested person. This information was redacted under the personal data exemption and he argues that this information is not personal data. Our position is that this is personal data we cannot disclose without breaching the data protection principles. The draft internal review response explains in reference to the ICO guidance why Mr Fallon’s understanding of what is/not personal data is incorrect and why we consider this small amount of redacted information should be withheld. This is a low risk matter, applying the ICO guidance.”

Mr Benson has said that in general, when he receives a review he reads the advice given and may look at any decisions made by other public bodies in similar circumstances. He may also consider information on the ICO web site.
As we have previously stated, your internal review was decided by Mr Benson but the letter to you confirming his decision was signed by another person on his behalf.

Seventeen FOIA reviews have been completed in the last 12 months. These were decided by the Data Protection Officer, Head of Learning & Development, Operations Manager Casework, Head of Assessment and Head of Finance.

We hope you find this helpful.

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information & Data Protection Team
Independent Office for Police Conduct
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW

0300 020 0096

www.policeconduct.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter at: @policeconduct
Find out how we handle your personal data.
The IOPC is proud to have achieved Customer Service Excellence accreditation​

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Independent Office for Police Conduct,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Independent Office for Police Conduct's handling of my FOI request 'Audit trail for IOPC refusal of a FOI request `as it is a requirement of of the ICO to have had exhausted your procedures, and after having followed your advice of quote," we strongly recommend that you read the Information Commissioner’s guidance to which we refer in our letter and consider carefully whether this guidance is supportive of our decision" I have reached the conclusion that your data protection redactions are still excessive and unacceptable.
As part of the appeal I wish to point out that I consider the request to have been dealt with inappropriately and incompletely by a person who allegedly is conversant with the FOIA 2000 yet who displays attitude by commencing with "As this request is clearly motivated by your dissatisfaction with...", when the FOIA 2000 clearly states that requests should be treated as Applicant Blind, in most cases without reference to motives or identity.This departmental attitude is also shown by your revelation that " the following advice was given to Mr Benson:“Mr Fallon is complaining about the redaction...", sadly Mr Benson was primed with the wrong advice that I was complaining about anything, I said,quote "I am quite annoyed that the IOPC have refused my request" and "I would appreciate further knowledge ", neither of my comments expressed any issue of complaint, I simply requested knowledge of how your systems work dealing with requests.

I posted 3 new FOI requests but I don`t think that any were dealt with in a systematic and clear manner so the process information requested still remains vague.
Reference Q1 there has been NO answer as to who first read the initial FOI request, or why it was sent to Mr Benson and no disclosure of any attachment. It is unsatisfactory to have to presume that no one forwarded the request to Mr Benson, that he accessed it directly himself from IOPC mail before forwarding it to an underling to deal with.It is confusing that he has an independent key role in dealing with FOI requests when his primary concern is finance and there are two senior FOI and DP advisors in post.
Reference Q1 I asked who is head of your FOI section and number of assistants and the response was "The FOI and DP team is headed up by our Data Protection Officer(DPO), there are two Senior FOI and DP Advisors who deal with FOI requests on a day to day basis". Please advise why you have not provided the name of your DPO and why their job title is limited to Protecting Data and does not include Freedom of Information.
Reference FOI Q1 there was NO response provided to how FOI training is given ,or if certificates of completion are given, and NO copy of your in house training. The only `copy of training`provided was a pdf attachment which consisted of ONE slide entitled `1009363 FOI training slide IAO annual training`which implies that the training is provided by a series of slide projections presented to your office staff by your DPO each year and which you refuse to disclose for unexplained reasons .Apparently there are no certificates of completion provided and no tests of comprehension, simply a box ticking exercise on personal files. If this is incorrect please clarify.

Reference FOI Q3, you have NOT advised when Mr Benson received his training or refreshers which could lead to the presumption that he has never received the IOPC FOI training and is therefore acting on his own initiative. Please advise why you have not disclosed who Mr Benson reports to, the presumption it is that Michael Lockwood but why will you not confirm it.
Finally, the major issue of concern is why Mr Benson, your Finance Officer, has the absolute authority to act on behalf of the IOPC to approve the redaction of FOI disclosures which seems contrary to the guidance for organisations provided by the ICO, Quote "Understanding whether you are processing personal data is critical to understanding whether the UK GDPR applies to your activities.Personal data is information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual.Information which is truly anonymous is not covered by the UK GDPR".
https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...,
I am annoyed by the political nature of your answers which do not address the questions posed but I would appreciate appeal review of all the points raised, especially your defiant stance which conflicts with the UK GDPR guidance regarding the data of individuals who cannot be identified.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
Yours faithfully,

Dennis Fallon (BScHons)

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

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Gadawodd dennis fallon anodiad ()

I note that in January 2021 the Police Federation spokesperson,Phill Matthews, commented at the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the role and remit of the IOPC that “While there are some very good people in the organisation, there are others where we see a staggering lack of knowledge.”He told MPs, “We don’t think they have the right depth and breadth of knowledge; we don’t think they have the right training and they are absolutely unaccountable. You cannot get disclosure from the IOPC and I don’t think they understand it properly.” Phill went on to further criticise the IOPC for a lack of transparency and for being shrouded in secrecy and said it should be audited in the same way as forces are.
https://www.polfed.org/herts/news/2021/f...

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

Dear Mr Fallon

Thank you for your email. We will review our original response in line with your representations and expect to let you know our findings on or before 16 September 2021. We will keep you updated should we be unable to respond by 16 September.

Yours sincerely

The FOI and DPA Team
Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)
PO Box 473
Sale
Manchester
M33 0BW
Tel: 0300 020 0096

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Fallon

Please find attached our response to your email of 18 August (our reference 1009363).

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information & Data Protection Team
Independent Office for Police Conduct
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW

0300 020 0096

www.policeconduct.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter at: @policeconduct
Find out how we handle your personal data.
The IOPC is proud to have achieved Customer Service Excellence accreditation​

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Gemma Thomas (Data Protection Officer),
Thank you for completing the appeal review which now allows the request to be forwarded to the Information Commissioner for their expert opinion as, unfortunately, we are still at total disagreement as to whether the information relating to an anonymous person can be classed as personal data under GDPR. The anonymous young individual, who was not committing any major crime, suffered very serious injuries at the jaws of a free running police dog and had to be kept in hospital for 3 days as a result, yet the IOPC strive to withhold the detail and hardly inspire public confidence that they are transparent or independent. That may explain the curious reason the word `Independent`in your logo is specially written in a yellow font. I am now in a position to progress BUT, in conclusion, I would appreciate an explanation as to why your signature on your reply of 15th September 2021 is IDENTICAL to the signature of Mike Benson on his reply of 5th May 2021, so one or both of the signatures must be false. We are expected to have confidence in the IOPC but discrepancies such as these cause further concern as accountability cannot be properly allocated. There is obviously a simple explanation for this which I hope you can provide within 2 days to bring this particular enquiry to a close.

Yours faithfully,

Dennis Fallon ( BScHons )

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

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If you have made a request for information to the IOPC, your email and any
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!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

Dear Mr Fallon

Thank you for your email.

In relation to your question about Gemma Thomas's signature we would refer you to the explanation in our email of 22 June 2021 (our reference 1009288). This was:

"The handwritten signature we included in our letters of 5 May 2021 and 26 March 2021 is not Mr Benson’s own signature. Our letter of 5 May omitted to include ‘pp’ below the signature so as to indicate that the letter was being signed on Mr Benson’s behalf. We are sorry about any confusion or inconvenience caused."

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information & Data Protection Team
Independent Office for Police Conduct
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW

0300 020 0096

www.policeconduct.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter at: @policeconduct
Find out how we handle your personal data.
The IOPC is proud to have achieved Customer Service Excellence accreditation​

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Gemma Thomas, I am sorry to have been so persistant, since 25th February 2021, trying to establish the reality of a police dog incident as reported by West Midlands Police. I am a person of great integrity and strongly believe in human rights,honesty and justice, and believe that people in authority should be held accountable to the general public for their actions. Thank you for not interpreting my persistance as being vexatious but it difficult to make progress when the response to questions may be evasive or restricted. For example, you say "The handwritten signature we included in our letters of 5 May 2021 and 26 March 2021 is not Mr Benson’s own signature" but you have failed to acknowledge that it is the same signature used on your reply of 15th September, so presumeably it is your own signature. I don`t know why you can`t accept responsiblity for other people being delegated to use your signature, presumeably they have your authority to do so and it is legitimate.For the purposes of ICO review I confirm that the outstanding issue of contention is that the IOPC seek to totally redact the one line in a police report which relates to an unidentified young person who encountered an unrestrained police dog and resulted in the youth being injured and kept in hospital for three days. The IOPC say the GDPR exclusions apply, article 6 and Special Category Data article 9, information that might reveal a data subjects Racial or Ethnic origin or Health issues, BUT the GDPR state that their regulations do not apply to individuals who are deceased or anonymous.The youth is a totally anonymous person, below the age of identification in court, but the IOPC refuse to accept the GDPR exemption and refuse to disclose the extent of the youth`s injuries as advised in the police report, whilst the police themselves exclusively highlight the 2 cuts to their heroic dog`s head.
This summarises the issue which still remains in dispute. Thank you for patiently dealing with my requests to date, I shall mark this request thread as now closed.

Yours sincerely,

Dennis Fallon (BScHons)

!Request Info, Independent Office for Police Conduct

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of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IOPC. Only
specified staff are authorised to make binding agreements on behalf of the
IOPC by email. The IOPC accepts no responsibility for unauthorised
agreements reached with other employees or agents. The IOPC cannot
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regularly scanned, the IOPC cannot take any liability for any virus that
may be transmitted with the internet. The IOPC communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law. Consequently, any email and or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff.

Gadawodd dennis fallon anodiad ()

Appeal Sent to Info Commissioner on 18 September, awaiting their action now.

Gadawodd dennis fallon anodiad ()

The ICO have allocated this review IC-130218-S2S8 on 8th October for attention ASAP.