Bullying in East Hertfordshire District Council

Yabootoyou made this Freedom of Information request to East Hertfordshire District Council

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

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, East Hertfordshire District Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear East Hertfordshire District Council,

This request is being made to make the public at large and people in each authority aware of which councils are the worst offenders or the better examples when it comes to bullying in the workplace. All councils have very similar anti-bullying / dignity at work policies, but there seems to be a difference in the level of bullying. This is intended to statistically show those differences.

Please reply to the first two questions first as they are the most important:

a) Please inform me of the cost of dealing with this request.

1) How many official complaints of harassment and bullying at work did you receive between the 1st April 2009 and the 31st December 2015?

2) How many of these complaints were upheld in favour of the
complainant?

Please reply to these questions if the £450 limit is not exceeded or in order of the questions up to the limit should the limit be surpassed somewhere within these questions:

3) How many of those which were not upheld in favour of the
complainant went on to Appeal?

4) How many of those that went to Appeal were found to favour the
complainant?

5) How many complaints went on to an Employment Tribunal?

6) How many of these were found to uphold the complaint?

7) Out of how many of those allegations (the number given to question 1) did the complainant of
bullying claim that the bullies were telling lies?

8) How many staff does your authority have and what is the current population within your authority's area?

Yours faithfully

Mr Lewis

yabootoyou

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your email.
This is an automated response and acknowledgement.

 

If you have submitted a new request under FOI, EIR or Data Protection Act:

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the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing reference to a third party.

If your request is made as a Subject Access Request under the Data
Proetction Act, you will receive a response within 40 calendar days as
specified in the Act.

 

The Acts define a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the
information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your
request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information
will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the case, including
your rights of appeal.

 

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.

 

There may be a fee payable for this information, this will be considered
and you will be informed if any fees are payable.  In this event the fee
must be paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20
working day time limit for the response is suspended until receipt of
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If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please
do not hesitate to contact me. 

 

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line of all electronic correspondence related to this request.

If you are responding to an existing request, providing more information
or asking for more information

Your email will be automatically queued to your case (provided you have
included the case reference inside of square brackets (e.g. [F12/XXX] )
If you have not done so, we will try to manually allocate your email to
your case (we may have to contact you for the case reference).

If you have emailed for any other reason

If your email is not related to requests for information under FOI, EIR or
Data Protection Act, we will try to make sure it is passed to the correct
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Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

I am writing to acknowledge your written request for information.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by
the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing reference to a third party.

The Act defines a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the
information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your
request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information
will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the case, including
your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.

There may be a fee payable for this information, this will be considered
and you will be informed if any fees are payable.  In this event the fee
must be paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20
working day time limit for the response is suspended until receipt of
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While details of your information request may be published on the council
website, your personal details will never be published or released to
anyone outside the council unless it is required by the Information
Commissioners Office.

Thank you for your request.

 

Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Further to your request for Information it is not possible to provide all
the information you requested.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this document acts
as a notification of the Information that can be released and also under
Section 17 of the Act a Refusal Notice to that Information that cannot be
released.

Please reply to the first two questions first as they are the most
important:

 

a) Please inform me of the cost of dealing with this request. - approx
£7.00 (vased on a cost of £25 ph and a time taken of approx 1/4 hour)

 

1) How many official complaints of harassment and bullying at work did you
receive between the 1st April 2009 and the 31st December 2015?

 

We do not have any data prior to 2013/14. Between April 2013 and 31
December 2015 there was one official complaint of bullying and harassment.

 

2) How many of these complaints were upheld in favour of the complainant?

 

This is declined under section 40 of the FOI Act.  Given the singular
incident recorded, and further details woudl likely lead to the
individuals involved being identified.

 

Please reply to these questions if the £450 limit is not exceeded or in
order of the questions up to the limit should the limit be surpassed
somewhere within these questions:

 

3) How many of those which were not upheld in favour of the complainant
went on to Appeal?

 

This is declined under section 40 of the FOI Act as individuals could be
identifiable.

 

4) How many of those that went to Appeal were found to favour
the complainant?

 

This is declined under section 40 of the FOI Act as individuals could be
identifiable.

 

5) How many complaints went on to an Employment Tribunal?

 

This is declined under section 40 of the FOI Act as individuals could be
identifiable.

 

6) How many of these were found to uphold the complaint?

 

This is declined under section 40 of the FOI Act as individuals could be
identifiable.

 

7) Out of how many of those allegations (the number given to question 1)
did the complainant of bullying claim that the bullies were telling lies?

 

This is declined under section 40 of the FOI Act as individuals could be
identifiable.

 

8) How many staff does your authority have and what is the current
population within your authority's area?

 

East Herts Council has a current headcount of 361 employees which equates
to a full-time equivalent of 311.91 employees. The district population is
approx 144,000 individuals.  For up to date information on the population
of the East Hertfordshire district I suggest you refer to ONS population
projections (www.ons.gov.uk ).

If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request
please do not hesitate to contact me.

Further Information and Guidance can be obtained from the Information
Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545 700

[1]www.information commissioner.gov.uk

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all
correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.

Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.information/

Dear [email address],

I note your answer to question 1 and refusal of questions 2 to 7. I should point out to you that I had a similar situation (look on this site under Rutland or on the ICO website) where to the same questions, the council provided a figure of 8 for question 1 and refused the rest. I went to appeal and the ICO and the ICO decision was in favour of releasing the information. They said the following:

"2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the Council has incorrectly applied the exemption for personal data at section 40(2) of FOIA to parts 2 to 6 of the request, as the withheld information is sufficiently anonymised to take it out of the definition of personal data. "

In spite of the figure being 1 and not 8, I believe the same applies here. Therefore, I am not appealing at this stage but will do so should you not release the data. Please let me know if you will therefore release the data at this stage.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Lewis

Yabootoyou

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your email.
This is an automated response and acknowledgement.

 

If you have submitted a new request under FOI, EIR or Data Protection Act:

Your request will be considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by
the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing reference to a third party.

If your request is made as a Subject Access Request under the Data
Proetction Act, you will receive a response within 40 calendar days as
specified in the Act.

 

The Acts define a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the
information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your
request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information
will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the case, including
your rights of appeal.

 

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.

 

There may be a fee payable for this information, this will be considered
and you will be informed if any fees are payable.  In this event the fee
must be paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20
working day time limit for the response is suspended until receipt of
payment.

 

If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please
do not hesitate to contact me. 

 

It is important that you include the FOI reference number in the subject
line of all electronic correspondence related to this request.

If you are responding to an existing request, providing more information
or asking for more information

Your email will be automatically queued to your case (provided you have
included the case reference inside of square brackets (e.g. [F12/XXX] )
If you have not done so, we will try to manually allocate your email to
your case (we may have to contact you for the case reference).

If you have emailed for any other reason

If your email is not related to requests for information under FOI, EIR or
Data Protection Act, we will try to make sure it is passed to the correct
person or department.  We may have to contact you for further information.
 

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your recent email.

We have taken your response as a request for a formal review of our
decision to withold osme of the information you requested.

We will undertake this review in the next 10 days.

You have indicated a previous ICO decision that you believe we should take
into consideration.

If there are any further details or matters you believe we should
consider, please let us know by 06/07/2016.

We will let you know our decision following the review.

If we do not agree to release any further information, you will retain the
right to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner as a complaint
for investigation.

 

Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

The council has considered this matter at length, but does not agree that
the requested information should be released.

The council has noted your reference to the Rutland case decision, but
considers that the material difference between that case and our own means
that the decision as presented by the ICO is not persuasive to us.

The Rutland case decision was founded on the premise that due to the
number of complaints referred to (8 in number), a person who was aware
that an employee had made a complaint would not be able to attribute to
that complainant any specific details from the remainder of the request
response.  This was further compounded by the span of dates across which
the request and response were spread, with staff turnover being a
consideration.

East Herts, however, has only one single complaint against which to
provide details in its response to your request.

In this instance, it would mean that if any person was aware that an
employee had made a complaint, upon viewing the request response,
they would be able to automatically attribute all details released to that
individual.  (Release of information under FOI is considered to be release
to the public at large, so this must be a material consideration for the
council).

Further, the council staff turnover from the date of the complaint (2015)
has been only slightly over 10% (10.85%).  This indicates that most staff
who were present in the council at the time of the complaint remain in the
staff body.

The council therefore continues to rely on S40 (2) of the Freedom of
Information Act, and considers that the requested details constitute
personal data of the individual concerned, that cannot be anonymised due
to the singular complaint that is contained in our response.

You do, of course, retain the right to refer the matter to the Information
Commssioner for review as a complaint.

You can contact the Informations Commssioners Office at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545 700

[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all
correspondence related to this request.

Thank you for your request.

 

Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.information/

Dear [email address],

I have complained to the ICO with the complaint as detailed below - I have left off the history which is available on this website. I will provide an update on this website once the decision has been made.

"Dear Sir / Madam,

I would like to complain about the reply received by East Hertfordshire Council pursuant to a FOI request and ask that an investigation be done to ensure that the council provide this information.

The full history is copied and pasted below and is available on the Whatdotheyknow website.

I believe there to be no greater chance of personal data being obtained to questions 2 to 7 than to question 1, for which the figure of 1 has already been provided. I have written to other councils on this issue, a number of whom replied "1" to question 1 and replied quite happily to question two. Some provided "0", some "2" with low figures for the rest of the questions. Some of those who provided 1 have a lower staff number than East Hertfordshire. If they don't have a problem with this, it is more difficult for East Hertfordshire to claim they are not happy with it. I have provided a copy of the answers so far received from District Councils below.

The council has not proven or even argued whether this relates to someone alive or not, yet your decision in relation to Rutland County Council shows this to be relevant, indeed essential - the council argues on staff turnover, which doesn't appear to be of great relevance. If the figure is "1", the council would be able to say whether the person is still working for the council - it has not done so. It may be "0" - note that the law says that the information must relate to a living person to be personal information which suggests that the answer to question two must be "1" and not "0", in which case why refuse the information to said question? The issue of it relating to someone living or not hasn't even been argued by the council, therefore the council's argument should be dismissed.

The council points to its 10% staff turnover over the period, citing that most staff present at the time of the complaint remain in the staff body. Firstly, this is impossible to know as the council have not provided the date of the complaint. Secondly, "most" would mean over 50%, so to compare its 10% to a 50% situation I find quite ridiculous. No council is going to lose 50% of its staff in 6 years, probably even with a culture of bullying, so this argument is pure fantasy.

The questions are such that the information, whether one or otherwise, would be so anonymised that no motivated intruder would be able to find out any personal information, let alone said motivated intruder being reasonably likely to do so. I am trying to find out figures only. I don't need dates of complaints or staff names. The time period asked for (about 6 years) would lessen the likelihood of any discovery of personal information.

Peter Lewis

Answers from other councils

Barrow-in-Furness

1) 4 2) 2 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 237 and 56,745 Cost -

Purbeck

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 102 and 42,679 Cost - £12.50

North Devon

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 395 and 93,700 Cost -

South Lakeland (>01/04/2013)

1) 4 2) 1 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 408 and 105,000 Cost -

East Cambridgeshire

1) NA 2) NE 3) NA 4) NZ 5) 0 6) NA 7) 8) Cost -

South Cambridgeshire

1) 4 2) 2 3) 0 4) 0 5) 0 6) 0 7) 0 8) 429 and 153,300 Cost -

Wealden

1) 3 2) 0 3) 0 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 347 and 148,915 Cost -

Huntingdonshire

1) 4 2) 1 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) NA 8) 546 and 173,600 Cost -

Broxbourne

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) and 96,000 Cost -

Cheltenham

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 236 and 110,013 Cost - £12.50

Forest Dean

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 154 Cost - £12.50

Tewkesbury (from 2012)

1) 8 2) 7 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) 1 8) 197 and 85,800 Cost - 0

Rother

1) 7 2) 4 (part) 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 250 and 81,000 Cost -

Hastings

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 358 and 91,500 Cost -

South Derbyshire

1) 1 2) 1 (part) 3) NA 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 1 8) 276 and 98,374 Cost -

South Bucks

1) 4 2) 0 3) 2 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 1 8) 127 and Cost -

Lewes

1) 3 2) 0 3) NA 4) 0 5) NA 6) NA 7) 0 8) 400 and 93,900 Cost - £0

Christchurch

1) 1 2) 0 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 418 and HERE Cost -

Bolsover (>June 2015)

1) 1 2) 1 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 501 and 75,866 Cost -

Amber Valley

1) 2 2) 0 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) 0 7) 0 8) 268 and 122,300 Cost -

Gloucester

1) REF 2) REF 3) REF 4) REF 5) REF 6) REF 7) REF 8) 254 and 125,649 Cost -

Eastbourne

1) 5 2) 1 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) 0 7) 0 8) 390 and 101,900 Cost - 0

Carlisle

1) 6 2) 1 (fully) 2 (part) 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 1 8) 466 and 108,000 Cost -

Basildon

1) 8 2) 5 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) 0 7) NA 8) 953 and 180,500 Cost -

Winchester

1) 3 2) 2 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 477 and 116,600 Cost -

North-East Derbyshire

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 401 and 99,023 Cost -

South Ribble

1) 2 2) 2 (part) 3) 0 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) 0 8) 300 and 109,057 Cost -

East Herts (>Apr 2013) Chased on Q2 re Rutland to reply by 10 July

1) 1 2) REF 3) REF 4) REF 5) REF 6) REF 7) REF 8) 312 and 144,000 Cost - £7

Wycombe

1) 4 2) 1 (part) 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 297 and 120,000 Cost -£

Scarborough

1) 12 2) 2 3) 0 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) 0 8) 740 and 108,800 Cost - £within parameters

Ryedale

1) 1 2) 1 (part) 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 211 and 51,700 Cost - £under limit

Rossendale

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 167 69487 Cost - £NA

Ashford

1) 5 2) 0 3) 0 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) 5 8) 438 and 122,000 Cost - £19.30

Dartford

1) 3 2) 2 (full) 1 part 3) 0 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) 0 8) 283 and 102,200 Cost -£

Hertsmere (REVIEW MADE 4th July)

1) 3 2) 2 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 298 and 101,000 Cost - £26.11

Fareham

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 480 and 113,600 Cost - £

Gosport

1) 2 2) 0 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) 0 7) 0 8) 272 and 82,622 Cost - £minimal

Baberg and Mid Suffolk

1) 0 2) 0 3) 0 4) 0 5) 0 6) 0 7) 0 8) Cost - £

South Oxfordshire

1) 1 2) 0 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 1 8) 277 and 136, 000 Cost - £

Ashford

1) 1 2) 0 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 483 and 121,600 Cost - £0

Rushcliffe

1) 1 2) 1 3) 0 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 254 and 105,590 Cost - £

Hambleton (review as 5 or less to every question)

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 592 and 89,828 Cost - £20

Corby

1) 29 2) 9 3) 5 4) 1 5) 1 6) 0 7) NA 8) 509 and 62,400 Cost - £

East Lindsey

1) 3 2) 1 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 1 8) 358 and 136,700 Cost - £NA

Boston

1) 3 2) 2 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) 0 7) 1 8) 298 and 66,500 Cost -£

Charnwood

1) 2 2) 1 3) 0 4) NA 5) 0 6) NA 7) 1 8) 389 and 166,100 Cost - £

Chorley

1) 15 2) 4 3) 0 4) 0 5) 0 6) 0 7) REF 8) 328 and 110,000 Cost - £125

Swale

1) 0 2) NA 3) NA 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) NA 8) 277 and 140,836 Cost - £

Tonbridge and Malling

1) 1 2) 0 3) 0 4) NA 5) NA 6) NA 7) 0 8) 270 and 120,800 Cost - £0

St Albans

1) 4 2) 0 3) 1 4) 0 5) 0 6) NA 7) 0 8) 390 and 140,000 Cost - £"

Yours sincerely,

Mr Lewis

Yabootoyou

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your email.
This is an automated response and acknowledgement.

 

If you have submitted a new request under FOI, EIR or Data Protection Act:

Your request will be considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by
the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing reference to a third party.

If your request is made as a Subject Access Request under the Data
Proetction Act, you will receive a response within 40 calendar days as
specified in the Act.

 

The Acts define a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the
information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your
request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information
will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the case, including
your rights of appeal.

 

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.

 

There may be a fee payable for this information, this will be considered
and you will be informed if any fees are payable.  In this event the fee
must be paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20
working day time limit for the response is suspended until receipt of
payment.

 

If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please
do not hesitate to contact me. 

 

It is important that you include the FOI reference number in the subject
line of all electronic correspondence related to this request.

If you are responding to an existing request, providing more information
or asking for more information

Your email will be automatically queued to your case (provided you have
included the case reference inside of square brackets (e.g. [F12/XXX] )
If you have not done so, we will try to manually allocate your email to
your case (we may have to contact you for the case reference).

If you have emailed for any other reason

If your email is not related to requests for information under FOI, EIR or
Data Protection Act, we will try to make sure it is passed to the correct
person or department.  We may have to contact you for further information.