BBC investigating TV licence fee collectors

British Broadcasting Corporation did not have the information requested.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

In your recent response to me regarding my request RFI20170372 you indicated that the investigation into TV Licence fee collectors that was promised was to be done by Capita itself, and that "...We don’t have an exact date when the investigation will conclude but anticipate it will be by the end of April."

As your expected investigation concluson date has now expired please provide either :

1) The report produced by Capita as a result of their investigation;
OR
2) If the investigation is still not concluded :

a) Any updated conclusion date you are aware of;
b) All communications sent/received between you and Capita regarding the expected investigation duration and the justifications for any delays to the expected conclusion dates.

In your response to RFI12010372 you also provided a link :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/stateme...

to a letter that Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC sent a letter to Andy Parker, Capita CEO, requesting 'urgent confirmation' to 5 questions posed by Tony Hall.

Please provide the response received from Andy Parker, Capita CEO, to Tony Hall's letter.

Yours faithfully,

R Good

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear R Good,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email below. Your request was received on 2 May 2017.  We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20170649.

Kind regards,

Information Rights

BBC Freedom of Information
BC2 B6, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP

www.bbc.co.uk/foi
Email: [BBC request email]

Tel: 020 8008 2882

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear R Good,

 

Please find attached our response to your request for information
reference RFI20170649.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Rights, BBC Legal

BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

[1]Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

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Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for your response to my FOI request.

You have refused to provide me with the requested information on the basis that "we do not consider
that there is a particular public interest in the early release of this information". You also state that "Additionally it is in the public interest that this information should be disclosed to all licence-fee payers at the same time, rather than provided in advance to one individual."

This response suggests that you do intend to publsh the information at some point in the future, therefore I would be grateful if you can provide the date you expect this to be published, and how you plan to publish this for disclosure to "all licence-fee payers".

I also requested that you provide the response provided by Capita's CEO to Tony Hall's letter posing 5 questions. There is no direct mention of this in your response. Please therefore confirm that you are including this information under your general response i.e it will be published at the same time as the release of the investigation information. If not, please provide the information as requested.

Yours sincerely,

R Good

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear R Good,

Under section 22 this exemption does not require a set publication date to be in place.

As stated in our response RFI20170372 the investigation is being carried out by Capita and not the BBC. Therefore, any report produced in relation to the investigation will be held by Capita and not the BBC. The exemption applied in our response to RFI20170649 related to the letter that Tony Hall sent to Andy Parker.

Please accept our apologies this wasn’t made clear in our initial reply.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights, BBC Legal
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

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Peter Jones left an annotation ()

How very convenient - as long as the BBC intends to publish this information in the future (even if that's in 10 years time) then it can hide behind this exemption and refuse disclosure.
BBC transparency strikes again.

Dear FOI Enquiries,

I wish to request an Internal Review of your refusal to provide the information requested. This review is being requested on the basis that the exemptions you are stating do not apply.

1. FOI Section 22 exemptions

In your reply to me on 31 May 2017 you stated :

"... information is exempt if the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not)."

You also stated :

"...we are required under s 2(2) of the Act to assess whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information ahead of the planned schedule"

After I responded, requesting your planned release date your reply on 2 June 2017 was :

"Under section 22 this exemption does not require a set publication date to be in place."

Firstly, the ICO indicates that you can only apply Section 22 exemptions if the intention to publish pre-dates the date of request for the information - Is this the case ? If not, you cannot apply the exemption and you should provide the information requested.

Secondly, your response on 31 May suggests you do have a set publication date as you indicate you have a "planned schedule" for publication, but your later reply suggests otherwise - This conflict cannot be correct.

Thirdly, although the FOI Act allows your quoted exemption of "...does not require a set publication date to be in place", the ICO provides guidance on when this exemption can be applied :

"there is a publication deadline, but publication could be at any date before then;
publication will take place once other actions have been completed;
publication will take place by reference to other related events or
there is a draft publication schedule that hasn’t been finalised"

Which of these are you applying in this case ?, and why ? You must appreciate that your assertion of "Under section 22 this exemption does not require a set publication date to be in place." is incorrect without qualification, and it is not the intention of the FOI Act to allow this exemption in such a manner.

In my communications with you, you have acknowledged that "...this is generally a public interest in increasing the accountability and transparency of publicly-funded organisations" and "...it is in the public interest that this information should be disclosed to all licence-fee payers at the same time, rather than provided in advance to one individual". I would therefore expect you to provide the requested information (either directly to me, or by general publication) in a timely manner, however your responses do suggest otherwise, and are in conflict with the both the formal purpose and the spirit of the FOI Act.

2. Information held by Capita exemptions

In your response to me on 2 June 2017 you seem to be suggesting that both the report and the response provided to Tony Hall's letter are exempt as they are "held by Capita".

If my interpretation of this is correct w.r.t the requested report, then I contest this is incorrect as you already acknowledged that you plan to publish the report.

Generally, however, I suggest that you cannot apply this exemption to information generated either by yourselves or Capita where the information is directly related to YOUR responsibilities to implement and administer TV Licensing. To the best of my knowledge Capita administer TV Licensing activities on behalf of the BBC, therefore any information generated in direct relation to those activities, regardless of whether you or Capita hold it, is covered by the FOI Act. In addition, as the BBC News story headline states "BBC investigating TV licence fee collectors", and the first sentence of the story states "The BBC has ordered an investigation...". My interpreation of this is therefore that this was an investigation, initiated by the BBC, on behalf of the BBC, into activities that the BBC are responsible for, and are therefore covered by the FOI Act.

I assert that the same rules apply to the letter received by the BBC from the Capita CEO. You published the letter that Tony Hall sent, which contained 5 questions directly related to the administering of TV Licensing by Capita on behalf of the BBC. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that the responses to those 5 questions are also available to the public for scrutiny into the methods employed on behalf of the BBC.

Yours sincerely,

R Good

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear R Good,

We have received your request for an internal review which was received on 4 June 2017.  We shall deal with the review as promptly as possible and, at the latest, within 20 working days. If you have any queries please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your internal review is IR2017039.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights, BBC Legal
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Good,

 

Please see attached the BBC’s response to your request for an internal
review.

 

Sincerely,

 

BBC Information Rights Team.

 

R Good left an annotation ()

As suggested previously they BBC have wriggled out of providing the results of the Capita investigation by stating that they 'asked Capita to investigate urgently and ensure swift and appropriate action is taken’, and never intended to see the report that was produced.

It is a pretty poor reflection on the BBC that they feel that their responsibility in investigating these type of issues stops at sending a letter to Capita, do not get to see the results of any investigation, and appear to not have (or do not want) any power to satisfy themselves that the behaviour reported is not cultural either (at best) a local level (or worst) corporate level. They seem to simply accept the rather predictable response from Capita (well they would say that, wouldn't they) without any obvious detail of what happened/why it happened and what Capita are actually planning to do to resolve the issue.

As an aside, it is also quite comical that the news report on the BBCs OWN news website (or 'news articles' as they are now calling it, without specific mention of the BBC news website) were never official statements, and as such appear to have no basis in fact.

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for your response.

I note that the media centre link you provided to the correspondence between Tony Hall and Capita includes a letter from Capita (Dated 30/06/17) which states "I have previously shared that appropriate action and processes are being followed regarding these two individuals." I presume this means that you have received this information from Capita, but have decided not to publish this on the BBC media centre website.

I would be grateful if you can forthwith provide me with this 'shared' information in order to provide me with ALL requested information regarding these communications.

Yours sincerely,

R Good

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Good,

 

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

We are treating your request for further information about internal review
IR2017040 as a new request.

 

Your request was received on 26 June 2017.  We will deal with your request
as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days. If you
have any queries about your request, please contact us at the address
below.

 

The reference number for your request is RFI20170928.

 

Kind regards,

 

Information Rights

 

BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 B6, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP

 

[1]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

Email: [2][BBC request email]

 

Tel: 020 8008 2882

[3]cid:image001.png@01D2EE69.D29802C0

 

 

 

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Good,

 

Please see attached the BBC’s response to your FOI request (RFI20170928).

 

Sincerely,

 

BBC Information Rights Team

 

 

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Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for your response. I would, however, ask that you to confirm that when you state 'The BBC does not hold any written information that falls within the scope of the request' that you actually mean 'The BBC does not hold any recorded information that falls within the scope of the request'.

I understand that this clarification request may seem petty however there is a distinct difference between 'written information' and 'recorded information' within the scope of the FOIA, as the latter includes information held in electronic form. I did not explicitly request only 'written' information, and your previous responses to me have explicitly indicated that 'the BBC does not electronically or physically hold the information'.

Yours sincerely,

R Good

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear R Good

Please see attached the BBC’s internal review of your FOI request.

Yours sincerely,
The Information Rights Team

BBC Information Rights
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP, UK

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/foi
Email: mailto:[BBC request email]

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Sarah Conner left an annotation ()

You want Capita as they will be the ones sweeping any investigation under the carpet

R Good left an annotation ()

Sarah,

Unfortunately Capita are not covered by the FOIA as far as I am aware.

I also made a separate FOI request ( https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c... ) to the BBC for any exception reports that Capita had provided for this issue (which they should have done if they were correctly following their contract), but this was not done either (and in their reply the BBC effectively warned me off asking any other questions. I presume they would claim I am being vexacious).

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