Dear Sir or Madam,
In response to a previous FoI request (http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ba...), Josephine Bell indicated that there had been communications between the Information Commissioner and the DCSF regarding the backlog of FoI requests and the DCSF's failure to meet statutory requirements regarding response times.
Please can you publish all such correspondence.
Dear Mr Hogan,
Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible (where a response is required). For information, the
departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses
should be sent within 15 working days or 20 working days if you are
requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0072962
Central Allocation Team
Public Communications Team
Tel: 0870 0002288
Dear Mr Hogan
Thank you for your email request for information, which was received on 19
August 2009. You requested:
communications between the Information Commissioner and the DCSF
regarding the backlog of FoI requests and the DCSF's failure to meet
statutory requirements regarding response times.
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
A copy of the information which can be disclosed is enclosed. The
Department holds no other communications with the Information
Commissioner's Office on the matter.
The information supplied to you is protected by the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988. Any documents produced by government officials will be
covered by Crown Copyright. You are free to use the information for your
own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for
the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial
publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder and is
regulated by the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005. You
can find details on the arrangements for re-using Crown Copyright at:
Office of Public Sector Information
Information Policy Team
Email: [email address]
Any information which is not subject to Crown Copyright continues to be
protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from which the
information originated. You must ensure that you gain their permission
before reproducing such information.
The Department holds the remainder of the information you requested, but
it is being withheld because the following absolute exemptions apply to
Section 40 (2) - personal information. The Department considers that the
absolute exemption at section 40 (2) of the Act is engaged, because some
of the information requested constitutes personal data, disclosure of
which otherwise than under the Act would contravene the data protection
principles under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Section 44 (1) - prohibitions on disclosure - is engaged if disclosure
otherwise than under the Act:
is prohibited under any enactment, is incompatible with any Community
obligation or would constitute or be punishable as a contempt of court.
The Department considers that disclosure is prohibited by section 6 of the
Human Rights Act 1998, which makes it unlawful for a public authority to
act in a way which is incompatible with Convention rights. The Department
considers that if this information is disclosed, the disclosure would
breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates
to the right to respect for private and family life.
In addition the Department considers that the following qualified
exemption is engaged.
Section 38(1) - health and safety - provides that information is exempt if
its disclosure under the Act would, or would be likely, to
(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual; or
(b) endanger the safety of any individual.
This exemption is subject to a public interest test, which means that it
is necessary to consider whether, in all the circumstances of the case,
the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public
interest in its disclosure.
The public interest test case for disclosure of information protected by
this exemption rests mainly on the desirability for greater openness, for
the purposes of increasing public understanding and trust, and of
encouraging greater accountability.
The public interest test case for withholding the information is that it
is reasonable to expect that no information should be released which might
lead to harassment, harm or distress to individuals. The Department has
good reason to believe that this would be the likely result from release,
because of the publications on the Internet against the author of the
review, and others. Disclosure of information leading to identification
(or possibly to misidentification) of individuals is not in the public
interest in these circumstances. The most effective precaution which can
be taken to prevent likely harm or distress to individuals lies in not
disclosing information which could put them at risk of this. In balancing
the public interest, the Department has taken into account the fact that a
number of individuals have participated in, and responded to, the review,
often in an official capacity on behalf of local authorities, charities
and other bodies.
Whilst the Department always seeks to meet the legitimate rights of
requesters to information, under section 2 (2) (b) of the Act it must
also take into account the need for public servants and other individuals
to be able to conduct legitimate business in the public interest without
harassment or harm.
Having carried out the balancing test, the Department takes the view that
it is not in the public interest at this time for the information to be
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner's Office.
Information Rights Manager, DCSF
Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.