Dumfries and Galloway Council's Unacceptable Actions Policy.

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Dear Dumfries and Galloway Council,

This request relates to the council's Unacceptable Actions Policy. The information requested is as follows;

1) What does the council define as "threatening and abusive language" precisely?

2) Where is this set out in the policy document and provide this to verify the definition.

3) Please give exact examples of what is classed as "threatening and abusive language".

4) Given that someone who has called the council, "A squalid little outfit", has been threatened with the Unacceptable Actions Policy, is this being used to gag legitimate comment by individuals?

5) Is the council's policy interpreted as anything that officers don't like is classed as "threatening and abusive language"?

6) Is the council aware of the provisions of Article 10 Human Rights Act 2000, the Right to Freedom of Expression?

7) Given that the council is considered to be "a squalid little outfit" it is clear that the person who made this comment has the right to do so and the threat made by the officer in response breaches Article 10 Human Rights Act 2000. Is that the intention, to stifle legitimate comment?

Yours faithfully,

Susan Murray

Dumfries and Galloway Council

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FOI Unit
Dumfries and Galloway Council

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Dumfries and Galloway Council

Please find below the Council's response to your request 416427 which was received on 10/06/2019.

Details of request: This request relates to the council's Unacceptable Actions Policy. The information requested is as follows;

1) What does the council define as "threatening and abusive language" precisely?

2) Where is this set out in the policy document and provide this to verify the definition.

3) Please give exact examples of what is classed as "threatening and abusive language".

4) Given that someone who has called the council, "A squalid little outfit", has been threatened with the Unacceptable Actions Policy, is this being used to gag legitimate comment by individuals?

5) Is the council's policy interpreted as anything that officers don't like is classed as "threatening and abusive language"?

6) Is the council aware of the provisions of Article 10 Human Rights Act 2000, the Right to Freedom of Expression?

7) Given that the council is considered to be "a squalid little outfit" it is clear that the person who made this comment has the right to do so and the threat made by the officer in response breaches Article 10 Human Rights Act 2000. Is that the intention, to stifle legitimate comment?

Response:

Link to the Unaccepatble Actions Policy (UAP) is at

https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/article/16747

Response to Question 1, 2 and 3
Section 3.2 of the UAP sets out what the Council considers to be aggressive or abusive behaviour. This is further explained at Section 3.5. To give precise examples would not be appropriate.

Question 4 - No

Question 5 - No. As per the UAP, Section 3 fully defines Unacceptable Actions/Behaviours

Question 6 - Yes

Question 7 - As set out in section 3.5 of the Unacceptable Actions Policy, the Council will not deal with correspondence that is abusive to staff or contains allegations that lack substantive evidence. When this happens, the individual is advised that the Council considers their language offensive, unnecessary and unhelpful.

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Kind Regards

FOI Unit
Dumfries and Galloway Council

This email, from Dumfries and Galloway Council, and any files transmitted with it, is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.

If you are not the intended recipient of this email (and any attachment) please inform the sender by return email and destroy all copies. If you are not the intended recipient or responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use, disclosure, review, dissemination, distribution or reproduction of this email is strictly prohibited. Please be aware that communication by internet email is not secure as messages can be intercepted and read by someone else. Dumfries and Galloway Council do not accept liability for any loss or damage which may result from this email or any files attached. It is your responsibility to scan this email and any attachments for computer viruses or other defects.

Any email including its content may be monitored and used by the Council for reasons of security and form monitoring internal compliance with the policy on staff use. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used.

Any email message sent or received by the Council may require to be disclosed by the Council under the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. For further information and to view the Council’s privacy statement please go to https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/privacy

Dear Dumfries and Galloway Council,

I refer to your response dated 8 July 2019.

It is a pity that the council doesn't comply with its own Unacceptable Actions Policy which appears to be no more than a device used to threaten, intimidate and silence people with legitimate grievances. It beggars belief that council staff are rude, abusive and act vexatiously towards service users, to the extent that their conduct is unlawful. Those who complain are met with mendacity and further abuse.

The whole manner in which this is dealt with is patently unlawful, it is typical of this council's approach in general.

Yours faithfully,

Susan Murray

Susan Murray left an annotation ()

The contents of the Unacceptable Actions Policy read more like a diktat from somewhere like North Korea. It is clear that the council pays no regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Right to Freedom of Expression. Whilst it is accepted that extreme abuse and aggression are not to be tolerated, legitimate criticism and justified comments are another matter. As is stands, the council threaten people who make fair comments concerning poor levels of service, or abysmal treatment from staff. Whilst their staff can be abusive as they like.

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