Allan Levy QC Report into "Pindown"

Cathy Fox made this Freedom of Information request to Staffordshire County Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Staffordshire County Council.

Dear Staffordshire County Council,

Please could you send me the 1991 Allan Levy QC Report into "pindown" in Staffordshire Childrens Homes in the 1980s

Please could you outline the information held by Staffordshire County Council on child abuse and what categories it might be possible to ask for this information. Please state what reports are held

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

Allen, Gemma (D,L&T), Staffordshire County Council

Dear Ms Fox,

Thank you for your request for information.

I can confirm that the The Pindown Experience and the Protection of Children (The Report of the Staffordshire Child Care Inquiry 1990) is a published document and is therefore exempt from release under section 21 (Information accessible to applicant by other means) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The ISBN number is 0 903363 49 6.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 allows release of information held by public authorities (subject to exemptions) on request to the public. Can you therefore please clarify exactly what information you are requesting for the second part of your request?

If you have any queries or require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

In the first instance if you have any comments relating to how your request has been handled by our authority, please write to Philip Jones, Head of Information Governance, Wedgwood Building, Block A, Tipping Street, Stafford, ST16 2DH.

If you have any further comments relating to how your request has been handled by our authority, please contact the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely
Many Thanks
Gemma Allen
Access to Information Officer
Information Governance Unit
Staffordshire County Council
Staffordshire Place
c/o Wedgwood Building - Block A
Tipping Street, Stafford
ST16 2DH
Tel: 01785 278568
[email address]

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Dear Gemma Allen,

Thank you for the information of the reports proper name. Your reply stated
"I can confirm that the The Pindown Experience and the Protection of Children (The Report of the Staffordshire Child Care Inquiry 1990) is a published document and is therefore exempt from release under section 21 (Information accessible to applicant by other means) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The ISBN number is 0 903363 49 6. "

Whilst I do not claim to be a good searcher or user of computer technology, I can not find a copy of this report eg it is unavailable on Amazon. It does not seem to be reasonably accessible to me.

Section 21 states that it must be reasonably accessible, not whether it has been published or not. To satisfy yourself of reasonable accessibility you would have had to find a copy online or find where to purchase it. Please could you tell me where it is reasonably accessible to me.

A further point is that notwithstanding what the law says, why do you publish it anyway not only for this request but on your publication scheme? It is hardly an onerous task for your authority, and having a request refused on whatever grounds leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially as I am working with survivors who have been damaged by your council and still in recovery years later.

The refusal to provide the information not only is not helpful but it is almost laughing in the face of the victims that your council abused.
I therefore ask you to publish it, whether or not it is reasonably accessible elsewhere and make a tiny bit of amends for the damage that the council caused innocent and vulnerable children in your care.

Further do you not feel that the Council has a duty of care to current children in your care, and your staff to make the report accessible from your website so that everyone can learn from the terrible mistakes made in the past

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Allen, Gemma (D,L&T), Staffordshire County Council

Dear Ms Fox,

Thank you for your email received 23rd April 2013 regarding your recent Freedom of Information Request.

I can confirm that the document is available at the following link:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pindown-Experien...

As you have suggested that the refusal to release information is not based on the correct use of legislation I have forwarded your comments to Philip Jones to consider as a complaint.

We would normally expect to be able to deal with such matters within 20 working days. On occasion this is not possible because of issues that arise in reviewing a complaint. If this is the case I will write to you again and explain any delay and when you can expect an answer. At present we have no reason to believe this matter cannot be dealt with within the timescale.

If you have any queries regarding the above or would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely
Gemma Allen
Access to Information Officer
Information Governance Unit
Staffordshire County Council
Staffordshire Place
c/o Wedgwood Building - Block A
Tipping Street, Stafford
ST16 2DH
Tel: 01785 278568
[email address]

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Dear Gemma Allen (D,L&T),

Thank you for your response.

In your reply you state "I can confirm that the document is available at the following link:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pindown-Experien...

I do not consider that a second hand report, available privately, is reasonably available for the purposes of the act.
There is no guarantee that the report has not been tampered with, or is intact and with something of this importance the provenance needs to be beyond reproach. Also only one is available to buy and so it is not reasonably available to more than one individual. Also the price is a prohibitive factor for me, so it is not reasonably available.

You also state "As you have suggested that the refusal to release information is not based on the correct use of legislation I have forwarded your comments to Philip Jones to consider as a complaint."
Please could you state which statement of mine you were referring to, and also who Philip Jones is. Thankyou.

Please could you answer the other points in my last reply

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Stibbs, Lian (D,L&T), Staffordshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

Please find the response to your complaint attached.

Yours sincerely,

Lian Stibbs
Senior Access to Information Officer

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Dear Staffordshire County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Staffordshire County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Allan Levy QC Report into "Pindown"'.

I was refused the information as the report is supposedly a published report. However it appears to be publicly unavailable.

The link Gemma gave "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pindown-Experien... returns the following now, even when clicking on the link.

"Looking for something?
We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.

Go to Amazon.co.uk's Home Page "

However as I stated in my reply, even when it ws available "I do not consider that a second hand report, available privately, is reasonably available for the purposes of the act.
There is no guarantee that the report has not been tampered with,or is intact and with something of this importance the provenance needs to be beyond reproach. Also only one is available to buy and so it is not reasonably available to more than one individual.
Also the price is a prohibitive factor for me, so it is not reasonably
available."
None of these points were addressed. Why not? and please address them.

Gemma also stated "As you have suggested that the refusal to release information is not based on the correct use of legislation I have forwarded your comments to Philip Jones to consider as a complaint."
I therefore asked "Please could you state which statement of mine you were referring to, and also who Philip Jones is. Thankyou."
No reply was forthcoming except from Philip Jones which made the second point clear but not the first.

I also wrote"Please could you answer the other points in my last reply"
None of the points were replied to. They were:
"Section 21 states that it must be reasonably accessible, not whether it has been published or not. To satisfy yourself of reasonable accessibility you would have had to find a copy online
or find where to purchase it. Please could you tell me where it is reasonably accessible to me?.

A further point is that notwithstanding what the law says, why do you publish it anyway not only for this request but on your publication scheme? It is hardly an onerous task for your authority, and having a request refused on whatever grounds leaves
a bad taste in the mouth, especially as I am working with survivors who have been damaged by your council and still in recovery years later.

The refusal to provide the information not only is not helpful but it is almost laughing in the face of the victims that your council abused.
I therefore ask you to publish it, whether or not it is reasonably accessible elsewhere and make a tiny bit of amends for the damage that the council caused innocent and vulnerable children in your care.

Further do you not feel that the Council has a duty of care to current children in your care, and your staff to make the report accessible from your website so that everyone can learn from the terrible mistakes made in the past?.

Furthermore Philip Jones stated " The case officer refused your request under s21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, highlighting that the report could be purchased from retailers and therefore was reasonably accessible to yourself.

I have considered this matter and the report can be brought from Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pindown-Experien I therefore find that this document is publically [sic] available."

I cannot find where Gemma stated it was available from
"retailers" as Philip Jones maintains - and it was in fact a second hand private sale and that was all your council could find, yet you still choose to argue that that was reasonably available.
Furthermore even the link provided by Philip Jones is an invalid link.

Please answer my points and publish the report to me which you are entitled to do whether it is theoretically already published or not, otherwise it rather appears that you have something to hide.

Furthermore you have failed to comply with the law by not stating whether you have the report or not.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/al...

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

Stibbs, Lian (D,L&T), Staffordshire County Council

Dear Ms Fox,

I write further to your email dated 29 May 2012. Your request has already been reviewed by the Head of Information Governance who is responsible for reviewing the FOI request process. You would now need to contact the Information Commissioner if you have any further complaints.

As previously informed within your complaint response, a copy of the report is publically available. The authority does not hold a copy to send either electronically or in hard copy.

However, your comments have been taken on board by the authority and the service area is working on producing a copy of the report to be placed within our publication scheme. This information will be available at a future date (anticipated to be August 2013).

The following statement has been provided by the service area. The Local Authority has responded to all the victims of Pindown who have made representation over the years and are all now adults. The lessons to be learned were taken very seriously and have influenced positive changes to the delivery of associated services. Since this report was published there has been considerable change to the legislation and inspection frameworks in relation to children’s services and we would note that this enquiry is now over 20 years old. The relevant learning from this enquiry is however carried forward into current service provision.

Yours sincerely,

Lian Stibbs
Senior Access to Information Officer

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Dear Lian (Stibbs D,L&T),

In the reply to this foi request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a... you stated that the report was due to be published in August.

Under s16 advice and assistance please could you help with the following.

1Please could you give a link to the published report.

2Please could you state which sections of the FOI acts or any of the Information Commissioners judgments that the decision was based to hold an internal review when I had not asked for one.

3Similarly what sections of the FOI acts or any of the Information Commissioners judgments to back up the decision that "Head of Information Governance who is responsible for reviewing the FOI request process. You would now need to contact the Information Commissioner if you have any further complaints. "

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Barbara Richards left an annotation ()

I am one of the children who was put into a Pindown childrens home and treated in a very abusive manner, and I have suffered years of depressive illness partly because of that but mainly because of the attempts to cover up the abuse by Stafford local authorities and Stafford police.

I cannot think of a single reason why the Pindown report can not be published online, witholding access to it is certainly not helping the victims of those crimes.

The "therapy" I have been offered following the abuse verges on abuse in itself. Where has all the Government funding that was for helping the victims of those crimes to "get over it" gone, because it certainly hasn't been spent on helping the victims to get their lives back together!

Barbara Richards left an annotation ()

"The authority does not hold a copy to send either electronically or in hard copy."

I find that very hard to believe!

Cathy Fox left an annotation ()

Especially as they Staffordshire council are the publisher- yet they tell anyone who wants to read it to go elsewhere!