CAFCASS refusing to answer FOI requests

I Peroll (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

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 partially successful.

I Peroll (Account suspended)

Dear Sir or Madam,

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fo...

CAFCASS have suddenly refused to answer FOI request after answering one on the same day, are they required by Law to do so or can they chop and change at will.

What is the Law which prevents departments such as CAFCASS from covering the backs of Local Authorities who are clearly giving out mis-information?

Yours faithfully,

I Peroll

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

29 September 2009

Case Reference Number ENQ0271541

Dear I Peroll

Thank you for your email dated today.

Although your email is entitled ‘Freedom of Information request’, it
is not a request for recorded information held by the Information
Commissioner’s Office. I have therefore

forwarded your email to a member of our casework teams, who are best
placed to answer your enquiries and will respond to you as soon as
possible.

Yours sincerely

Adam Stevens

Assistant Internal Compliance Manager.

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 01625 545 700 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/radF78EA_files/filelist.xml

I Peroll (Account suspended)

Dear Adam Stevens,

This is a complaint and a FOI question

"What is the Law which prevents departments such as CAFCASS from
covering the backs of Local Authorities who are clearly giving out
mis-information?"

Yours faithfully,

I Peroll

T Quinn (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCV048kL4Ws

how many more have to kill themselves before anyone will listen

Information Commissioner's Office

1 Attachment

Link: [1]File-List

10 November 2009

Case Reference Number ENQ0271541

Dear I Peroll

Thank you for your correspondence dated 29 September regarding Cafcass and
their response to the following request:

[2]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fo...

Firstly we would like to apologise for the delay in responding to your
correspondence. At the present time our office is dealing with large
volumes of work. This has meant that we have been unable to deal with
incoming correspondence as promptly as we would like.

In your first question you asked the following: “CAFCASS have suddenly
refused to answer FOI request after answering one on the same day, are
they required by Law to do so or can they chop and change at will.”

From the correspondence using the link provided it appears that Cafcass
have refused your request on the grounds that they do not consider that it
met the requirements of section 8 as they do not consider that 'I Peroll'
is your real name.

In response to your question then section 8 defines a valid “request for
information” under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) as a
request which:

o “is in writing,
o states the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence,
and
o describes the information requested.”

The use of the phrase “the name of the applicant” in section 8
indicates that the real name of the applicant should be used when
requesting information and not any other name, for example, a pseudonym.
Therefore public authorities are entitled to treat a request as invalid
where the real name of the applicant has not been provided. Although there
is no obligation for authorities to respond to invalid requests we would
advise that as a matter of good practice they should still consider such
requests. For more information on this please see our guidance using the
following link:

[3]Valid request – name and address for correspondence

Although one of the underlying principles of the FOIA is that the identity
of the applicant is not taken into account it can be relevant in certain
circumstances. For example, when:

· a request is being made by the applicant for their own personal
data which would be exempt under section 40(1) of the FOIA (and should
instead be dealt with as a subject access request under the Data
Protection Act 1998);

· a public authority is considering whether a request is vexatious
and/or repeated under section 14; or

· determining whether to aggregate costs for two or more requests
in accordance with the Fees Regulations.

From the above guidance you will note that we are seeking to encourage
public authorities to adopt a common sense approach to establishing the
validity of a request which maintains the spirit of the FOIA that
disclosure is to the world at large. A relatively low-key approach is
recommended and public authorities should not seek proof of the
applicant’s identity as a matter of course. Even where a public
authority knows that a pseudonym has been used then as a matter of good
practice it should still consider the request, for example where the
applicant’s identity is not relevant and it is content to disclose the
information requested, even though technically the request is invalid.

In accordance with the spirit and purpose of the FOIA, the default
position of a public authority should be to accept the name provided by
the applicant unless there is good reason to enquire further about the
applicant’s name. Where a public authority believes that the identity of
the applicant is relevant to the request, such as in the circumstances set
out above, and they believe the applicant’s real name has not been
provided then it will not be unreasonable for them to request proof of
identity in order to determine that a valid request has been made before
processing it. Therefore proof of identity could be requested in relation
to one request even where it had not been in a previous request made using
the same name as an authority may not always consider the name given to be
relevant.

For us to deal with this matter as a complaint as you indicate in your
second email then we would ask you to provide us with proof that the
request was made under your real name. Where a public authority believes
that the identity of the applicant is relevant to the request and they are
relying on a claim that no valid request under the FOIA has been made then
we would need the evidence that a valid request had indeed been made in
order to take this up with them. In addition we are unable to address a
complaint under the FOIA where no valid request has been made. The right
to complain to the Commissioner is defined in section 50 in respect of a
request for information made by the complainant, and as set out in section
8 a request for information should include the real name of the applicant.

In their letter of 24 September Cafcass have stated that if you provide
the proof that I Peroll is your real name then they will progress your
request and also offer to return any documentation to you without keeping
a copy on file. In light of their offer and as we would also require proof
that the request was made under your real name then it would be quicker
and easier to provide your proof of identity directly to Cafcass in order
to get a response to your request. However if you do wish to peruse this
matter as a complaint with us then please provide us with proof of your
identity.

In your second question you asked the following: “what is the Law which
prevents departments such as CAFCASS from covering the backs of Local
Authorities who are clearly giving out mis-information?”

The Information Commissioner is a UK independent supervisory authority
enforcing and overseeing the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 along with certain other related legislation, and we
can only answer in respect of this legislation.

In regard to the issue of inaccurate information please note that the FOIA
is solely concerned with the access to the recorded information held by a
public authority at the time of receiving a request, and where access to
that information is provided then the FOIA does not address the issue of
its accuracy. A public authority will have complied with their obligations
under the FOIA where they have provided the recorded information that they
hold irrespective of whether this information is accurate or not. As under
section 50 an applicant has the right to ask us to make a decision about
whether their request has been dealt with in accordance with the Act and
as the Act does not assess the accuracy of the information disclosed we
cannot look into such a complaint, however there may be other legislation
or another overseeing body that can consider the accuracy of the
information that is held by a public authority. As this is not part of our
regulatory role it is not something on which we can advise further.
However in regard to local authorities you may wish to check if this
matter falls under the remit of the Local Government Ombudsman.

If we can be of any further assistance please contact our Helpline on
08456 30 60 60 or 01625 545745 if you would prefer to call a national rate
number, quoting your case reference number. You may also find some useful
information on our website at [4]www.ico.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Craig

FoI Case Officer

FoI Case Reception Unit

Information Commissioner’s Office

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 01625 545 700 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/radD1547_files/filelist.xml
2. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fo...
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...
4. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

I Peroll (Account suspended)

Dear Sir or Madam,

So the correct answer is there is there is Nothing to stop them, I would hardly call that independent and it is obvious from your response that your services are far from independent and I would go as far as to say ' a complete waste of time'

"What is the Law which prevents departments such as CAFCASS from covering the backs of Local Authorities who are clearly giving out mis-information?"

Yours faithfully,

I Peroll