Border Force: Disciplinary matters

Waiting for an internal review by Home Office of their handling of this request.

Alistair P Sloan

Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

Pursuant to the general right of access to information contained in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I request the following information from the Home Office:

(a) please provide the full content of all policies, procedures, manuals, Operating Procedures (or similar) relating to the disciplinary process for Border Force officers

(b) please provide, per year from 2012 to 2016, the number of Border Force officials who have been dismissed having committed a criminal offence (e.g theft) while on duty.

(c) please provide, per year from 2012 to 2016, the number of Border Force officials who have been disciplined (other than by way of dismissal) having committed a criminal offence (e.g theft) while on duty.

I look forward to receiving your substantive response.

Yours faithfully,
Alistair P Sloan

FOI Requests, Home Office

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 39938). We will aim to send you a full response by 04/7/16 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

FOI Requests
R Patel
Home Office

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Alistair P Sloan

Dear FOI Requests,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
REFERENCE: 39938

I refer to the above request for information made to the Home Office on 5 June 2016 and acknowledged by the Home Office on 6 June 2016. It is with regret that I not that I have not yet received a response from the Home Office to this request for information. I should be grateful for an explanation as to the delay in responding to the request for information and a timeframe for when I can expect a response to my request for information.

If I do not receive a substantive response to my request for information by 1 August 2016 (being 40 working days following the date upon which the Home Office received the request for information), I shall be writing to the Information Commissioner seeking a decision as to whether the Home Office have complied with the requirements of section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in respect of this request.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours faithfully
Alistair P Sloan

Alistair P Sloan left an annotation ()

I have now sent an E-mail to the ICO seeking a decision on the Home Office's handling of my request to date.

Alistair P Sloan left an annotation ()

The Information Commissioner has issued a Decision Notice dated 29th September 2016 requiring the Home Office to respond to the request for information within 35 calendar days. The Decision notice will appear on the ICO Website (www.ico.org.uk) in due course under reference FS50640452.

Dear Sirs,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
REFERENCE: 39938

I refer to the above and to the Decision Notice issued on behalf of the Information Commisisoner on 30th September 2016, dated 29th September 2016, under reference FS50640452 requring the Home Office to respond to this request for information. I look forward to receiving your substantive response in early course, and certainly by 3rd November 2016.

Yours faithfully,
Alistair P Sloan

Alistair P Sloan left an annotation ()

The ICO's Decision Notice is now available at: https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
REFERENCE: 39938

I refer to the above and to previous correspondence. I note that a Decision Notice was issued on behalf of the Information Commissioner under her powers within the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated 29th eSeptember 2016 and that the said Decision Notice required the Home Office to provide a substantive response to my request for information dated 5th June 2016 within 35 calendar days of the date of the decision.

I further note, with dissapointment, that the period of 35 calendar days has now expired and the Home Office has not yet issued a substantive response to the request for information. I should be grateful if the Home Office would either provide its substantive response, or advise when it expects to issue its substantive response, by 5pm on Monday 7th October 2016 otherwise I shall refer the matter back to the Information Commissioner's Office.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully
Alistair P Sloan

FOI Responses, Home Office

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Sloan,

 

I apologise for the delay in you receiving the response to FOI request
39938.

 

The response and related information is attached.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Rights Team

 

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Dear Sirs,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR REVIEW
REFERENCE: 39938

I refer to the above request for information which was made to the Home Office on 5 July 2016 and to which the Home Office provided its substantive response on 9 November 2016. I am grateful for the response, but it is regretable that it took the Home Office so long to respond, even after a Decidion Notice was issued by the Information Commissioner. The length of time that it has taken the Home Office to consider the response is considerable and it was most discourteous for the Home Office to neither respond to enquiries about when a response could have been expected nor provide an explanation for the inordinate delay in responding.

Those preliminary responses aside I request a review on the Home Office's decision to withhold information in parts (b) and (c) of the original request for infromation.

The Home Office has withheld the numbers of Border Force Officials dismissed and otherwise disciplined for committing criminal offences while on duty. It has done so on the basis that to release the information would the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. The information would probably be classified as sensitive personal data within the meaning of Section 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

It is submitted that the information requested could be processed by way of releasing it under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the basis that the processing would be fair and lawful in terms of the first data protection principle. As it appears that this is sensitive personal data then in order for the processing to be fair and lawful it must meet at least one of the conditions in each of Sechedule 2 and 3 of the Act.

I shall turn first to the Schedule 2 conditions. In my submission, the only condition that could apply in Schedule 2 is the sixth condition, specifically 6(1). In my submission there is a legitimate interest in the information being released and that this legitimate consideration cannot be met in any other way. Border Force officials are an arm of the UK's law enforcement structure. They are charged with enforcing the law of the land and in dischargign that duty it is of essential importance that they are of integrity and good character. Furthermore, the request was only in relation to those who had committed criminal offences while on duty. In otherwords, they were (at the time of the offence) acting as agents of the State. The request does not cover offences committed while off duty. This, in my submission, heightens the legitimate interest in the information. I also submit that the processing would not be unwarranted by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject.

I shall now turn to the Schedule 3 conditions. It is my submission that the 10th condition in Schedule 3 taken together with condition 3 in the Schedule to The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000, provides a basis for processing the personal data in response to this request for information. There is clearly a substantial public interest in knowing about the numbers of border force officials who have been discilpined (including dismissal) having committed a criminal offence while on duty. It also clearly, in my submission, falls within 3(1)(b)(i) and (ii) of the Schedule to The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000.

I refer to the Upper Tribunal Case of DH v Information COmmissioner and (2) Bolton Council 2016 UKUT 139 AAC and to the decision of the House of Lords in Common Services Agency v Scottish Information Commissioner [2008] 1 WLR 1550 with regards to the comments therein concerning the public interest and the disclosure of perosnal data in the content of Freedom of Information requests.

In the circumstances of the case, I submit that the processing of the personal data in response to this request for information would not breach the DPPs.

I look forwrad to recieving the Home Office's substantive response within the timescales suggested by the Information Commissioner and trust that the Home Office shall keep me advised of any delays in providing a response to the request for information.

Yours faithfully,
Alistair P Sloan

FOI Responses, Home Office

This mailbox does not accept incoming messages. Any FOI requests or
inquiries should be sent to [1][Home Office request email].

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References

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Dear Sirs,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR REVIEW
REFERENCE: 39938

I refer to the above request for information which was made to the Home Office on 5 July 2016 and to which the Home Office provided its substantive response on 9 November 2016. I am grateful for the response, but it is regretable that it took the Home Office so long to respond, even after a Decidion Notice was issued by the Information Commissioner. The length of time that it has taken the Home Office to consider the response is considerable and it was most discourteous for the Home Office to neither respond to enquiries about when a response could have been expected nor provide an explanation for the inordinate delay in responding.

Those preliminary responses aside I request a review on the Home Office's decision to withhold information in parts (b) and (c) of the original request for infromation.

The Home Office has withheld the numbers of Border Force Officials dismissed and otherwise disciplined for committing criminal offences while on duty. It has done so on the basis that to release the information would the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. The information would probably be classified as sensitive personal data within the meaning of Section 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

It is submitted that the information requested could be processed by way of releasing it under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the basis that the processing would be fair and lawful in terms of the first data protection principle. As it appears that this is sensitive personal data then in order for the processing to be fair and lawful it must meet at least one of the conditions in each of Sechedule 2 and 3 of the Act.

I shall turn first to the Schedule 2 conditions. In my submission, the only condition that could apply in Schedule 2 is the sixth condition, specifically 6(1). In my submission there is a legitimate interest in the information being released and that this legitimate consideration cannot be met in any other way. Border Force officials are an arm of the UK's law enforcement structure. They are charged with enforcing the law of the land and in dischargign that duty it is of essential importance that they are of integrity and good character. Furthermore, the request was only in relation to those who had committed criminal offences while on duty. In otherwords, they were (at the time of the offence) acting as agents of the State. The request does not cover offences committed while off duty. This, in my submission, heightens the legitimate interest in the information. I also submit that the processing would not be unwarranted by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject.

I shall now turn to the Schedule 3 conditions. It is my submission that the 10th condition in Schedule 3 taken together with condition 3 in the Schedule to The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000, provides a basis for processing the personal data in response to this request for information. There is clearly a substantial public interest in knowing about the numbers of border force officials who have been discilpined (including dismissal) having committed a criminal offence while on duty. It also clearly, in my submission, falls within 3(1)(b)(i) and (ii) of the Schedule to The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000.

I refer to the Upper Tribunal Case of DH v Information COmmissioner and (2) Bolton Council 2016 UKUT 139 AAC and to the decision of the House of Lords in Common Services Agency v Scottish Information Commissioner [2008] 1 WLR 1550 with regards to the comments therein concerning the public interest and the disclosure of perosnal data in the content of Freedom of Information requests.

In the circumstances of the case, I submit that the processing of the personal data in response to this request for information would not breach the DPPs.

I look forwrad to recieving the Home Office's substantive response within the timescales suggested by the Information Commissioner and trust that the Home Office shall keep me advised of any delays in providing a response to the request for information.

I apologise if your have recieved this request twice, but the auto-response recieved suggested that the initial attempt at sending this internal review request had not been received. If the review request has already been recieved, please disregard this E-mail.

Yours faithfully,
Alistair P Sloan

FOI Requests, Home Office

Dear Alistair P Sloan,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request for an Internal Review.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (retaining case ref 39938). We will aim to send you a full response by 22/12/16 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

A Callaghan
FOI Requests
Home Office

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Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR REVIEW
REFERENCE: 39938

I refer to the above and to previous correspondence, in particular my correspondence to the Home Office dated 23 November 2016 requesting that the Home Office conducts an Internal Review. I note from the your correspondence dated 24 November 2016 that you aimed to provide a response to the request for an internal review by 22 December 2016. I further note that no response has been provided.

As the Home Office will know, there is no statutory time period in which a public authority must respond to a request for review; however, the Information Commissioner considers that a period of 20 working days should be appropriate in most cases and 40 working days in other case. The Home Office took an unacceptable amount of time to deal with the initial request which resulted in the Information Commissioner ordering the Home Office to respond within 35 calendar days (which the Home Office failed to do). In view of the history of the request and the Information Commissioner's views on the conduct of internal reviews I respectfully request that the Home Office provides a substantive response to my request for an internal review in early course and by close of business on 25 January 2017 (being 40 working days since the request for an internal review was received). If I do not receive such a response by close of business on 25 January 2017 I shall make a further complaint to the Information Commissioner pursuant to Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Alistair P Sloan

Alistair P Sloan left an annotation ()

On 26 January 2017 I sent a further complaint to the ICO relative to this request.

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