Audio recording by claimants of WCAs and PIP assessments: Omega Reporter 20 Voice Activated Cassette Recorders

Rick Sykes made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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 Department for Work and Pensions.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Audio recording by claimants of WCAs and PIP assessments: Omega Reporter 20 Voice Activated Cassette Recorders

On behalf of ESA and PIP claimants wanting to know what equipment they can invest in for the purposes of (overtly) recording their WCAs or PIP assessments, I recently had occasion to telephone Atos more than once. I received different responses from different Atos offices\telephone centres in respect of the same equipment, and in no case was Atos prepared to confirm their response in writing.

The particular equipment the claimants wanted to know whether they should buy comprised TWO Omega cassette reorders to be used simultaneously, as further specified here:- :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Omega-Reporter-2...

It is obviously highly unsatisfactory that any organisation acting on behalf of the DWP should fail to give accurate responses. Faced with this uncertainty, the claimants concerned used single USB recording devices covertly and perfectly legally (and very good, clear and evidentially-useful recordings they made).

My question for the DWP under FoI Act is:--

Q. Under CURRENTLY RECORDED DWP policy: is the equipment I have described and specified above (two Omega reporter 20s) acceptable as equipment to be used to record a WCA or PIP assessment by a claimant, with one cassette to be retained by the claimant and the other given to Atos (or other DWP subcontractor)?

Having perused certain previous, and in my view highly evasive and unlawful, responses of the DWP in connection with the audio recording of medical examinations, I make the following additional observations which may assist the ICO in due course:-

1. I am not asking for 'advice' or reference to any 'process'. I am asking for an answer to a question raised under the Freedom of Information Act to which I am statutorily entitled.

2. I couldn't care less whether or not the DWP keep 'lists' of 'approved equipment'; and I am not asking the DWP to specify each and every model which would be acceptable. I am asking whether under currently recorded arrangements the PARTICULAR equipment I have specified to you in this communication conforms to the purported policy the DWP has devised without statutory authority. (This is a form of central clarity and transparency which will become even more important as the number of 'service providers' increases.)

3. I am not asking for an 'opinion'. I am asking for a factual statement. Does the equipment I have specified comply with CURRENT DWP POLICY? This is not a matter which the DWP can lawfully delegate to the whim of a subcontractor. But if a subcontractor is supposed to be able to answer the question in any individual case, so can the DWP, on whose behalf the answer is supposed to be given. (Information is held by a public authority if it is held by another person on behalf of the authority.)

4, Timing. It is highly material that claimants should be able to know well in advance of any potential medical assessment what equipment will satisfy DWP policy. By the time the 'booking process' for such an assessment commences there may very well be insufficient time for a claimant to order such devices from any online store or otherwise obtain them at all. This makes a Freedom of Information Act enquiry on the subject particularly appropriate.

5. I am entitled to a response in writing under the Freedom of Information Act. I require the DWP to respond by email to the WDTK site. The written confirmation of policy in respect of the individual, particular, equipment I have specified here cannot be obtained elsewhere.

6. It is irrelevant to refer to such minimal hard copy information as the DWP produces, or to any website maintained by or on behalf of the DWP. The recorded factual information I require is not written there.

Yours faithfully,

Rick Sykes

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sykes

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/2nd Floor/Peel Park/ Brunel Way/Blackpool/FY4 5ESS

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Audio recording by claimants of WCAs and PIP assessments: Omega Reporter 20 Voice Activated Cassette Recorders'.

Your response of 9th September 2013 is wholly unacceptable for the reasons already stated in my original enquiry of 18th August 2013.

Your reference in the response was FOI 3939, and 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,

Rick Sykes

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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Rick Sykes left an annotation ()

Someone must have put half a fire-cracker somewhere appropriate because the DWP has actually responded a week before the statutory time limit.

Still far from 'promptly' as s.10 FoI Act requires, but nevertheless I will now be able to get this to the ICO at least a week earlier than I originally expected.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sykes
 
Please see the attached response to your recent Freedom of Information
review request.
 
Regards
 
Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | Contracted
Customer Services Directorate | DWP Operations | 2nd Floor, Peel Park,
Brunel Way, Blackpool FY4 5ES | [1]www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the
environment before printing 
 
 
 
 

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Rick Sykes left an annotation ()

This one's with the ICO.

Ed Young left an annotation ()

...and the ICO has made his decision.

Department for Work and Pensions
Case Ref: FS50515864
Date: 19/02/2014

Summary: The complainant has requested confirmation from the Department for Work and Pensions (“DWP”) that a particular model of cassette recorder complies with DWP policy. He wishes to clarify that the cassette recorder is acceptable for use in a Work Capability Assessment (“WCA”) or a Personal Independent Payment (“PIP”) Assessment. DWP has explained that it does not hold a list of approved equipment. The Commissioner’s decision is that DWP does not hold this information. No further steps are required.
Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI 1 - Complaint Not upheld

View a PDF of decision notice FS50515864 - http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...