Camden Council Officers Telling lies

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

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.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

Please may I ask you to state the total number of complaints/messages you have received to date about or including Camden council officers/managers telling lies or making/giving false allegations.

Yours faithfully,

[name removed] [name removed]

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Ms [name removed]

Our ref: CS/09/144

I attach a letter in response to your request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's offfice | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

The information you have requested was not obtained in the course of, or for the purposes of, the investigation of a complaint it was THE complaint so I doubt the exemption applies. I would submit a complaint to the ICO about that issue if they fail to five you the info after an internal review.

As far as the cost of retrieving the information is concerned they keep complaints on a computerised data base so it would be very easy to extract the information requested, however, I would have limited the request to a number of years rather than 'to date'.

I doubt they would have a strong case for refusing to give you the information for the last couple of years on costs grounds. You are only interested in the figures for one council after all.

Accordingly I would submit a request for an internal review and if they still refuse to give you the information submit a complaint to the ICO.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Local Government Ombudsmen's handling of my FOI request 'Camden Council Officers Telling lies'.

The information you have requested was not obtained in the course of, or for the purposes of, the investigation of a complaint.

I understand that you keep complaints on a computerised data base so it would be very easy to extract the information requested.

I am happy to consider accepting the requested information for the period 2006 to 2009 instead.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ca...

Yours faithfully,

[name removed] [name removed]

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Ms [name removed]

Our ref: CS/09/144

Before I pass this on for internal review, can I just point out that, while you are correct when you say we have a computerised database, the information you have requested would not be recorded on that database. That is what I meant when I said "this is not information we hold separately from the material held on each individual complaint file." It is not therefore easy to extract the information requested - to do so we would have to look in individual complaint files, as I said before.

You say below, "The information you have requested was not obtained in the course of, or for the purposes of, the investigation of a complaint" - I assume you mean "The information I requested ....". If so, I have to disagree with you. If someone made an allegation that a council officer had told lies, we would try to obtain information that either confirmed or refuted that allegation. By definition, that would be 'information obtained in the course of, or for the purposes of, the investigation of a complaint.' So section 44 of the Act applies.

Would you care to consider these points before I instigate a review of my handling of your request?

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's offfice | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |
|

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George Cant left an annotation ()

Hi there

Not uncommon from the LGO,

read this, he has been on this for a long time, http://lgowatcher.blogspot.com/

I would read here http://www.amv3.com/forum/viewforum.php?... then here. www.psow.co.uk then here .

To cut through a lot of understanding for you, if anyone within a council has provided a false document or lied to the LGO or court, It is the monitoring officer of the councils responcability, regardless of who sent them.

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

The LGO are wrong to apply section 44. You have NOT asked for information after they have investigated or otherwise proven an allegation, which would be subject to section 44, you have asked for information regarding the complaint submitted before section 44 can be argued to apply. In addition to suggest they don't keep a record of submitted complaints on their computer system is ridiculous, without such information being recored on Comtrac or whatever else they may now call their complaint tracking software, an investigator would not know what to investigate. They are giving you the run around push, for an internal review and submit a complaint to the ICO. Enough of this section 44 nonsense.

Anne Hide left an annotation ()

Mr Nunn is right, section 44 can't apply because the information you seek was generated before they became involved. Their attempt to misuse section 44 in an attempt to block your FOI request is evidence of their inability to think things through logically.

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

More information about the LGO wrongly using Section 44 exemptions here

http://lgowatcher.blogspot.com/2010/01/l...

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Further information obtained from a previous investigation by the ICO regarding the LGO using a Section 44 exemption.

"The [Information] Commissioner accepts that section 32(2) of the Local Government Act 1974 acts as a statutory prohibition on the disclosure of information obtained in the course of, or for the purposes of, an investigation and that responding to a freedom of information request is not one of the reasons for disclosure provided for in sub-sections a) – c) of section 32(2)".

..."the main issue to be considered in this decision is whether the information requested by the complainant constitutes information obtained by the public authority in the course of, or for the purposes of, its investigation....".

This request does not ask for any information obtained by the LGO in the course of, or for the purposes of, an investigation in fact the information requested clearly originated before the LGO would have even reached a decision whether or not to investigate.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Foi Officer,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Local Government Ombudsmen's handling of my FOI request 'Camden Council Officers Telling lies'.

I have reasons to believe that the application of section 44 to this request is wrong. This is because I have not asked for information after the LGO have conducted any investigation.

I have simply requested for information. My request does not ask for any information obtained by the LGO in the course of or for the purposes of an investigation. The information requested clearly originated before the LGO involvement and before the LGO would have even reached any decision.

It is therefore clear that section 44 can't apply and that the information I am seeking was generated before the LGO became involved.

Furthermore, it is difficult for me to accept the suggestion that the LGO does not keep a record of submitted complaints on a computer system. This is because I cannot see how an organisation like you would function properly without such a record system.

I await your full reply.

Yours sincerely,

[name removed] [name removed]

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Hilary Pook did not have the right to delay your original request for an internal review. Once an internal review is requested it should be taken out of the hands of the person who replied to your original request and given to another person for review. The LGO have 20 days in which to respond to an internal review and up to 40 days if they give you a good reason why they need extra time. I suggest you start the clock from the 18th not the 24th and let Hilary Pook worry about wasting 6 days.

Anne Hide left an annotation ()

It is absurd to suggest they don't log complaints or allegations on their computer system. If the complaint is not put on their computerised complaint tracking system when it is received, how do investigators know what to investigate and how do they construct their statistics? Do they just shove them in the bottom draw and forget all about them? Or are they still working in the dark ages and all their costs go on maintaining a manual system?

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

The following information should be recorded on their computerised complaint tracking system:

Registered complaint screen

Complaint ref number

Date received - ie, the date stamped on the complainant's correspondence

Authority

Category of complaint - guidance on categories of complaint is here

name and address and, where given, telephone contact, number. See advice for action when a telephone contact number is not given

Additional details screen

If relevant, the resubmitted 26(5) keyword

Any special reguirements the complainant may have

Details of any linked or cross referred complaints

Details of a particular site or the name of a school that is the subject of a complaint

Additional addresses screen

Any second or safe postal address given for a complainant

Details of any address of others involved in a complaint

Details of any third party referral –

Note: this is particularly important for showing when a complainant has been referred to us by an advice agency, to help evaluate the success of our efforts to raise awareness of our service among such bodies

Equal opportunities screen

Information provided by the complainant should be recorded here by support staff (investigative staff do not have access to this screen). If no equal opportunities form is initially provided by the complainant, this will be sent to the complainant when the complaint is acknowledged and any details subsequently received should then be put on this screen

Other

From April 2004, all new case-related files (beginning 04/ . . .) are to be stored within a sub-team's shared working directory (see Policy on the management of complaint casework email and electronic documents), the K: drive. Within each case sub-directory there can be any number of documents the naming of which is at the discretion of the sub-team. Each sub-team can agree a naming system they are comfortable with and that caters for drafts and final documents in the same subdirectory.

All the relevant files (whether created by the investigator or a support person) are therefore held in a single sub-directory and are accessible by other team members.

Staff should not retain any casework related documents on their personal drives or elsewhere on the system.

Outlook

Outlook should not be used for long-term storage of documents as mailbox sizes are limited. Emails and attachments are to be appropriately filed with other related documents on the K: drive and mailboxes should be regularly reviewed and purged of Deleted Items.

During the consideration of a complaint Comtrac

Registered complaint screen

Details of investigator and date allocated Additional details and additional addresses screens

As for receipt of complaints - if new information emerges

An alert - if this is set by an AO

Keywords

Investigation screen

Phoned complainant - should be used for the date of any telephone conversation on initial contact

Enquiries to complainant and response - should be used if any enquiries (letter, fax, email, telephone) made of the complainant

Enquiry to authority and authority response - date when any enquiry (letter/fax/email/telephone) made and date when complete response received. Accuracy here is very important because the information forms part of the statistics used in Annual Letters

Further enquiry and response - as for first enquiry

Neutral letter and response - where these are used

Dates of any interviews with the complainant, officers or members of the authority and any file examinations - Note - dates can be recorded in advance to aid casework management

Use of the BF facility to bring the file forward for chasing outstanding replies and for diarising timescales for keeping in touch with all parties

Memo (history field) - this can be used for recording more detailed information about the progress or status of a complaint. Keeping this up to date can help those who receive telephone queries about complaints. Some example uses are - recording partial responses to enquiries from authorities; keeping a record of chasing responses from any party; showing file movements

Decision screen

Local settlement sought and response should be completed in all cases where we seek a local settlement whether by letter, email, fax or telephone

Provisional view letter and response

Draft key facts to AO and LGO should be recorded for all draft reports. It will help establish the whereabouts of files for keeping in touch letters

Draft key facts to authority and complainant and responses for all draft reports

Amended draft to AO and LGO for all draft reports - again to help establish whereabouts of files for keeping in touch

LA Info screen

Any points about the authority's handling of a complaint or other comments may be recorded on this screen during the consideration of a complaint. This may be particularly important for collecting points to feed back to authorities in cases other than reports or local settlements.

Other electronic records

Any emails, letters etc must be saved on the complaint file in the K:\directory (see Policy on the management of complaint casework email and electronic documents)

Angela Thackray, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

2 Attachments

Dear Ms [name removed]

 

Please find attached a letter from Nigel Karney.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

A Thackray

PA to the Deputy Chief Executive and Secretary | DL: 020 7217 4696 |

10th Floor | Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |

[1]www.lgo.org.uk |

 

[2]LGO 4 col SML at 70%

 

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.lgo.org.uk/

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

He has not apologised for their misuse of a section 44 exemption, admitted they were wrong to do so nor provided an explanation.

Although you have some of the information the ICO will still be interested in the LGO's misuse of section 44. For more information read what the ICO said in response to my complaint and then submit a complaint to the ICO yourself. Misuse of section 44 as a reason for not initially supplying the information.

http://lgowatcher.blogspot.com/2010/02/l...

https://forms.ico.gov.uk/freedom-of-info...

In addition now they have found 13 records by using a keyword search of their electronic files a manual search of those 13 would not exceed the cost exemption. Therefore, I would now ask for a manual search of those 13 records to identify if the information you seek is contained within those.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Angela Thackray,

Thank you for the information provided from which I understand that you identified 13 complaints by searching your database for keywords of 'advice/information misleading/incorrect.

Please could you conduct a manual search of these 13 complaints and let me know how many of them were:

a. About Camden Council Staff telling lies/making false allegations

b. About housing officers telling lies/making false allegations

Please could you also let me know how many of the 13 complaints were:

a. Investigated by the ombudsman
b. Upheld by the ombudsman
c. Rejected by the ombudsman

Yours sincerely,

[name removed] [name removed]

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Ms [name removed]

Ref: CS/10/022

Ms Thackray has passed your request below to me to deal with. We are treating this as a new request. I will aim to respond to your request within 20 working days, that is by 22 March. If I cannot do so, I will let you know.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's offfice | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |
|

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Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

They have no right to treat this as a new request and make you wait another 20 days. They are already guilty of misusing an FOI exemption which has caused unnecessary delay. You are only asking for information that they asserted they had identified following an internal review.

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

In any event if I was you I would still inform the ICO because they misused Section 44 YET AGAIN in an attempt to derail your FOI request. They have been warned about doing this on previous occasions by the ICO.

https://forms.ico.gov.uk/freedom-of-info...

Alex Skene left an annotation ()

Regarding Section 44, I've compiled all the Decision Notices issued by the ICO & IT which you might find useful:

http://foiwiki.com/foiwiki/index.php/Sec...

The CLAE appear to apply it correctly in most cases, there have only been a few times where they got it wrong.

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Unfortunately there have been other occasions where the LGO have got it wrong but the requester has not bothered to complain to the ICO. It has happened to me on a few occasions in the past because I found it quicker to obtain the information from an alternative source rather than go through the complaints process. However, when there is no alternative one is forced to complain to the ICO which although usually effective it is very slow.

A typical example of what I am trying to say, although not about Section 44, is Brent Council's policy of refusing to send replies to What Do They Know. Many people just give an alternative address because the information they require is more important than complaining to the ICO and a lot quicker.

Unfortunately public authorities will continue to wrongly use exemptions because on the whole only a few people are prepared to go through the complaints process. Leaving the public authority to boast that the ICO has only found against them on a few occasions and continue to wrongly use an exemption.

A Johnson left an annotation ()

Whenever I have submitted a complaint to the ICO it has always been resolved in my favour well before a decision notice was needed. The LGO accepted they were wrong and supplied the information as soon as the ICO contacted them. Allowing a public authority to fold early may save time for all concerned but must skew decision notice statistics in favour of the public authority concerned. Obviously they would only continue to defend those they thought they could win.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Ms [name removed]

I attach a letter in response to the request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's offfice | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |
|

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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS left an annotation ()

Both the handling of the FOI request and the CLAE publication scheme appear to be relevant. The CLAE advise on good administrative practice and as such..

"I have conducted a manual review of these 13 cases but, with one exception, the files have all been destroyed and the only remaining documentation we have are the final decision letters. In one case the decision letter is missing."

must be a cause of some alarm

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

I don't think they thought you would ask for a manual search of their records. Missing records was also used as an excuse in one of my FOI requests. I think there is a term for a public authorities failure to keep adequate records, it's called maladministration, lol, :).

I doubt you will ever be able to prove it was a deliberate act, so you will just have to accept they are incompetent.

Steve Hunt left an annotation ()

If you want a laugh at a corrupt authority who constantly refuse to release information, see http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/conwy...

For individually named and shamed corrupt council officers, with concrete evidence of fraud, perjury, perverting the course of justice, altering internal council records to hide money, instructing their external lawyers to lie in court, etc., see my website at http://www.victoriapier.com

The Welsh Ombudsman is as bent as the English one - they flatly refuse to investigate Conwy Council on any aspect surrounding this case

Anne Hide left an annotation ()

You need to sue the individual who defamed you.