Are Service Users or the general public allowed to audio-visually record meeting and calls with your staff? If so, do they require permission or are they permitted to do so covertly? FOI Request.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Chichester District Council,

Are Service Users or the general public allowed to audio-visually record meeting and calls with your staff? If so, do they require permission or are they permitted to do so covertly?

Freedom of Information Act 2000

http://www.freedomtalkradio.co.uk/uk-sur...

1 Do you have any guidance or policy for the public or service users to record calls when they speak to your staff
What is your organisations protocol on service users recording calls when they speak to your staff? Please provide a copy of your policy, procedure and guideline notes on this issue.
or call centres Do you Inform Users they can record. If the answer is no what is the reason for this please if so do send me a copy.
Are service users made aware of their right to record the encounter, if they choose to do so? Is this reflected in you policy document on the matter?

2. Does your organisation have an “Unacceptable Behaviour” policy? If so, please can you provide me with a copy?
If such a policy contains points of objectionable behaviour such as telephones calls being recorded by the caller due to them being not necessary or unwanted or needed, and furthermore the staff members may feel threatened or apprehensive, are you aware that denying users the right to record calls goes against the current UK laws.

3. Are your policies and procedures compliant with the public right to audio-visually record encounters with your staff, without their consent? If not, will you provide appropriate training for your staff so they are fully informed of the Public right to record?

4. What is our organisations current charging policy for Freedom of Information requests (FOI) or Subject Access Requests (SAR)? If charges are applied are concessions available for those on low income or students?

5. What is your organisations complaints policy? Please can you forward me a copy. Does your complaints procedure permit service users evidence such as covert call recordings to form part of the investigation.
The Public need to record all calls too many lies now its time for honesty.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Peacher

Nicholas Bennett, Chichester District Council

3 Attachments

Thank you for your enquiry, copied below for your ease of reference.

 

My responses (on behalf of the Council) are made in italics

 

 

 

 

1

 

Do you have any guidance or policy for the public or service users to
record calls when they speak to your staff

 

No specific policy on recording of calls by the public is maintained by
the Council.

 

What is your organisations protocol on service users recording calls when
they speak to your staff?

 

In the same way that the Council would seek to make it clear when it
records the public, as data protection officer I would expect individuals
to be courteous and inform any particular officer that an individual was
doing so.  There is no formal protocol to that effect.

 

Please provide a copy of your policy, procedure and guideline notes on
this issue.

 

Not applicable.

 

or call centres Do you Inform Users they can record.

 

No. 

 

If the answer is no what is the reason for this please if so do send me a
copy.

 

Members of the public are not legally restricted in when they might use
recording in the same way as the Council or other public bodies.  Attempts
to explain the wider law are difficult in the context of short
introduction telephone messages and my feeling is that the right focus is
on ensuring that the Council does things properly, and not going into
explanation of individuals rights.  There is no protocol as explained, so
I cannot send you a copy.

 

Are service users made aware of their right to record the encounter, if
they choose to do so?

 

Again, no.  In some contexts such as housing or social support tasks then
the “scripts” which officers may use to support their activity may refer
to the right to representation or to obtain separate legal advice and so
on so that individuals are getting the best range of support from the
Council or other bodies such as (say) Shelter, Stonepillow or the Citizens
Advice bureau.  This Council shares offices with charities and agencies
and works hard to make sure that the public get the help they need.

 

Is this reflected in you policy document on the matter?

 

Again, we don’t have a policy document.

 

2. Does your organisation have an “Unacceptable Behaviour” policy?

 

The Council nuisance and anti-social behaviour guidance can be obtained
from [1]http://www.chichester.gov.uk/nuisance

 

If so, please can you provide me with a copy?

 

See above

 

If such a policy contains points of objectionable behaviour such as
telephones calls being recorded by the caller due to them being not
necessary or unwanted or needed, and furthermore the staff members may
feel threatened or apprehensive, are you aware that denying users the
right to record calls goes against the current UK laws.

 

No such restriction applies. The Council does have internal processes to
consider actual threats and attempts to harm officers of several kinds,
including by members of the public.  These processes are not made
publically available but are for serious threats typically following
advice from Police and are not in breach of the law.

 

3. Are your policies and procedures compliant with the public right to
audio-visually record encounters with your staff, without their consent?

 

The Council is reviewing its policies on CCTV both body worn camera CCTV
and fixed location CCTV.  The Council is aware of further advice being
released within the last few weeks by the Information Commissioner.  I
maintain my view that seeking consent is right, and appropriate in most
cases though you should perhaps seek advice from the Information
Commissioner website about general recording by members of the public if
you are interested in this subject.

 

If not, will you provide appropriate training for your staff so they are
fully informed of the Public right to record?

 

If you are referring to the rights established under the Localism Act 2011
that is not a general right to record.  As set out above, I would expect
members of the public to act reasonably and to make officers aware if they
intended to record our staff in the same way they would for any other
person in the high street (for example).  The Council has provided
training to officers at meetings about the right to record meetings.  In
addition, this Council actually records public committee meetings anyway
and makes the recordings available on its website.

 

 

4. What is our organisations current charging policy for Freedom of
Information requests (FOI) or Subject Access Requests (SAR)? If charges
are applied are concessions available for those on low income or students?

 

This authority does not use the charging powers available under the FOI
within the statutory maximum.  Under GDPR powers to charge are limited and
again I have not authorised any charges for any person.  In all charging
policies that I am aware of by this authority there is scope for
flexibility being applied for persons with low income if the relevant
legislation allows for discretion to be applied.

 

5. What is your organisations complaints policy? Please can you forward me
a copy.

 

The complaints policies are located again on the Council website.
[2]http://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/233...
There are several routes depending upon the complaint, but the search tool
is very helpful.

 

Does your complaints procedure permit service users evidence such as
covert call recordings to form part of the investigation. 

 

As explained above I think covert recording is not the best way – overt
recording would be preferable.  However, yes, covert information would be
admissible for complaint investigations.  There may be evidential issues
in some scenarios such as criminal investigations, when it would not be
allowed but for most complaints the process is civil.  I have used such
evidence in cases of complaints against Councillors for example.

 

 

I copy in Mr Cooper who is responsible for recording responses to Freedom
of Information Act requests by this department.  If you have any further
questions please do not hesitate to come back to me.  If you are unhappy
with the response provided not giving you answers to your questions you
can contact the Director of Corporate Services, Mr Ward.

 

 

 

 

Nicholas
Bennett
Divisional
Manager
[3]http://www.chichester.gov.uk/chichesterd... Democratic
Services
Chichester
District
Council

 

Ext: 34657 | Tel: 01243534657 | [email address] | Fax: 01243776766
[4]http://www.chichester.gov.uk
[5]https://support.content.office.net/en-us...

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