Gagging Orders

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Blackpool Borough Council,

Please could you disclose the number of staff exits which have included the use of gagging orders otherwise technically known as compromise or settlement agreements during the last 10 years.

Please could you provide a breakdown of the numbers and costs of such agreements per year.

If possible please could you indicate how many agreements in each year involved a member of staff exiting the organisation whose role involved working with children or other vulnerable groups.

Yours faithfully,

Rhys Matthews

HR Systems & Information, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear Mr Matthews

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST

I am writing to confirm that we have now completed our search for the
information you requested on 23 August 2013. 

For clarity I would like to point out that you asked about ‘Gagging
Orders’ and I can advise you that the Council does not use such orders
however I do believe that you are referring to ‘compromise agreements’. 

Blackpool Councils approach to compromise agreements is to safeguard the
Council, to ensure the prudent and legal use of public monies and to
satisfy statute and case law. A compromise agreement is a negotiated
settlement in the context of an employment dispute. A payment is made to
an employee in return for an agreement that they will not pursue specific
legal claim(s) against the Council and includes terms such as
confidentiality and usually an agreed reference. An employee is only
allowed to sign a compromise agreement with the council after they have
received independent legal advice to ensure they are fully aware of the
nature of the agreement in its entirety. The Council does not use
compromise agreements in cases that relate to matters or complaints other
than those of an employment dispute. For example issues or concerns about
safeguarding practices or service failures are not the subject of
compromise agreements.

We do not have detailed records of Compromise Agreements for the last 10
years but can provide information from 01/04/2007 onwards.

The table below shows the total number and costs of Compromise Agreements,
excluding those known to be purely redundancy related for each financial
year since 01/04/2007. These figures include staff in schools but exclude
Academy Schools. 

Financial Year  No of Agreements         Total Cost    
2007/08 6        £          88,084.77  
2008/09 9        £        133,929.00   
2009/10 4        £          52,381.68  
2010/11 15       £        172,624.97   
2011/12 20       £        357,531.34   
2012/13 18       £        188,421.61   
Grand Total     72       £        992,973.37   

In 2012/13, a total of 12 of these Agreements involved a member of staff
exiting the organisation whose role involved working with children or
other vulnerable groups.

A total of 30 of these Agreements in these years 2007/08 to 2011/12
involved a member of staff exiting the organisation whose role involved
working with children or other vulnerable groups.  I am unable to provide
figures on a year by year basis as this data would be exempt under section
40(2) for the following reason.

The Council does hold this information, however, it is the Council’s view
that as the number for each year is in single figures, disclosure of the
numbers or any associated information would be likely to lead to the
identification of an individual if combined with other information that
may already be in your possession, in the public domain, or accessible to
you.   Therefore the section 40(2) exemption is applied and in accordance
with requirements of this exemption, we have considered the principles of
the Data Protection Act 1998.  It is our view that any such disclosure
would be likely to breach principles 1 & 6 of the Data Protection Act
1998.

The legislation allows you to use the information supplied to you for your
own personal use.  Please be aware that any commercial use or other use
such as publication or sale may be a breach of copyright under the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 unless you obtain the copyright
holder’s prior permission.

Not all of the information that the Council supplies to you that is
subject to copyright, will be the Council’s copyright.  You should seek
consent from the Council or the copyright holder as appropriate.  If you
wish to reuse the information supplied you should contact the Council for
advice on this.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request you may ask for
an internal review and you should submit this in writing to: FOI Internal
Review, Blackpool Council, Town Hall, Blackpool, FY1 1NA.  Your request
for internal review should be submitted within 40 working days of receipt
by you of this response.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the review, you have the right to
apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. 
You can contact the Information Commissioner at: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF, ([1]www.ico.org.uk).

If you have any queries about this letter you can contact me, or write to:
FOI, Town Hall, Blackpool, FY1 1NA, or email us at
[2][Blackpool Borough Council request email].  Please remember to quote your
reference number when you contact us.

Yours sincerely

Debbie Botham
Human Resources Systems and Information Officer
Human Resources, Communication and Engagement
Chief Executive's Directorate
Tel. 01253 47 7242
Fax. 01253 47 7201
Email. [3][email address]
Blackpool Council ¦ Human Resources, Communications and Engagement ¦
Progress House ¦ Clifton Road ¦ Blackpool ¦ FY4 4US

_____________________________________________

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Paul Cardin anodiad ()

In May 2011, I placed a similar request which was refused, quoting "costs", and this finding was supported by an internal review. It was appealed to the Information Commissioner, but because there were 50+ English councils withholding the data, they fudged it and took a small sample to investigate (which didn't include Blackpool). My original 2011 request is here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

Well done in getting at least some of the information. This is very useful, and I will update my survey, held here:

http://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/...

...with a link to your information.