DPA 2018 - 'appropriate policy document' and criminal convictions

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

1. Of all PHSO job applicants in 2017/18, how many were found to have, or admitted to having, at least one criminal conviction?

2. How many staff recruited in 2017/18 were recorded as having at least one criminal conviction.

The Data Protection Act 2018 requires you to have to have an 'appropriate policy' in place in relation to the processing of personal data relating to criminal convictions. Schedule 1, Part 4 refers to an actual document:

'when the processing is carried out, the controller has an appropriate policy document in place'

3. Please provide me with a copy of the policy document in question.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear J Roberts

 

RE: Your information request: R0000218

                            

I write in response to your email of 9 September 2018 regarding your
request for information made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to
the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). You have requested:

 

1. Of all PHSO job applicants in 2017/18, how many were found to have, or
admitted to having, at least one criminal conviction?

 

2. How many staff recruited in 2017/18 were recorded as having at least
one criminal conviction.

 

The Data Protection Act 2018 requires you to have to have an 'appropriate
policy' in place in relation to the processing of personal data relating
to criminal convictions.  Schedule 1, Part 4 refers to an actual document:

 

'when the processing is carried out, the controller has an appropriate
policy document in place'

 

3. Please provide me with a copy of the policy document in question.

 

Response

 

1.For the period 2017/18, there were a total of 6 candidates that declared
a conviction at application stage.

 

2.For the period 2017/18, no staff were recruited who had a conviction. 

 

3.Section 1(1) of the Act provides that a public authority has a duty to
state in writing whether it holds information of the description specified
in a request. In accordance with our obligations we can confirm that the
PHSO holds the information requested.

 

However, section 22 of the Act permits information to be withheld, subject
to the application of a public interest test where information which is
intended for future publication is exempt information.

 

We have considered the exemption under section 22 as it applies to the
information you have requested; and in particular whether the public
interest lies in favour of maintaining the exemption or in disclosing this
information to you prior to pre-planned publication.

 

It is recognised there is a general public interest in the immediate
disclosure of information to ensure transparency and accountability. There
is public interest in the public having access to and being provided with
the PHSOs DBS policy which includes the handling of criminal conviction
disclosures.  We recognise there may be a public interest in disclosing
this information now and this may also weigh in favour of it being
unreasonable to wait for the information to be published.

 

However, there is a need to ensure that the publication of official
information is a properly planned and managed process. As such, the PHSO
must ensure that the information intended for publication meets the
standards and requirements set for our publications. It would therefore be
unfair for the PHSO to release this information prior to meeting such
standards.

 

Additionally, PHSO should be permitted to publish information in a manner
and form of it’s own choosing which could be undermined by previous
disclosure. Publication before the planned date would undermine the PHSOs
pre-planned publication process and ability to use staff resources in a
planned way so that reasonable publication timetables are not undermined.

 

In light of the above, the view is that the public interest in disclosure
is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining the exemption; and
therefore this element of your request is refused.

 

We anticipate publishing the policy on our website in December 2018.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way I have processed your
information request, it is open to you to request an internal review.  You
can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need to specify that the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [3]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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