Electoral Registration Officers

John Cross 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.

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to request information about the requirements for Electoral Registration to register as Data Controllers with the ICO.

Please can you let me know:

(1) The ICO's official position (if any) on whether Electoral Registration Officers should register as data controllers (separately from Local Authorities).

(2) Whether the ICO performs any checks to ensure all Electoral Registration Officers are (separately) registered as Data Controllers?

(3) Whether the ICO is aware of any boroughs of London for which the Electoral Registration Officer is not registered as Data Controller?

To put this request into context I searched the public register of Data Controllers to see which Electoral Registration Officers were registered for London Boroughs. Using various combinations of search terms including searches by place names I found that for 27 London Boroughs the Electoral Registration Officer had registered (separately) as a Data Controller. I could not find any evidence that the Electoral Registration Officers for Bexley, Hackney, Haringey, Hounslow, Lambeth, Southwark were registered as Data Controllers. Perhaps you can shed some light on this.

From reading this paragraph in an ICO Guidance Note it would appear that separate registration is required and that Electoral Registration Officers cannot simply rely on the DPA registrations of Local Authorities:

"Our view is that under these regulations, registration officers have the power to “inspect” and “copy” records held by local authorities for the purposes of “registration duties”. Therefore paragraph 5 of schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 1998 provides a relevant condition for meeting the first Data Protection when a local authority allows an electoral registration officer to inspect and copy personal data held by the authority."

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

Yours faithfully,

John Cross

Internal Compliance Team,

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your e-mail of 18 October 2009.

Although you have indicated that you wish to make a request for
information, further to your 'right to know' contained in section 1 of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), your email contains an
enquiry rather than a request for recorded information held by the ICO.

Where a 'request for information' contains an enquiry, rather than a
specific request for copies of information held by the ICO, we deal with
such requests as a 'normal course of business' enquiry rather than a
formal request for information under the FOIA.

This is in accordance with the guidance given in the ICO publication
'Freedom of Information & Environmental Information Regulations - Hints
for Practitioners handling FOI/EIR requests', which states on page 6
"Requests which are not for recorded information, but instead ask
questions, such as "please explain your policy on x" or "please explain
your decision to do y" are not requests for recorded information and
therefore should be treated as routine correspondence.". This
publication is available on our website, and can be accessed via the
following link:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...
actical_application/foi_hints_for_practitioners_handing_foi_and_eir_requ
ests_2008_final.pdf

We have therefore forwarded your enquiry to our Customer Services Team
who will respond to you in due course.

Yours sincerely

Joanne Crowley
Assistant Internal Compliance Manager
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
www.ico.gov.uk

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Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Blog post about this request: http://confirm-or-deny.blogspot.com/2009...

Dear Internal Compliance Team,

Thank you for your email. I think the important thing is that my correspondence receives an appropriate response rather than which particular team deals with it, so I am quite happy to have my email dealt with by customer services.

I would point out of course that my email includes requests for information and these parts at least should be dealt within the time period set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

Information Commissioner’s Office

Link: [1]File-List

30th October 2009

Reference: ENQ0274341

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your correspondence of 18^th and 20^th of October 2009
concerning the requirements for Electoral Registration Officers to notify
as data controllers with the Information Commissioners Office.

As I understand it you would like to establish the following:

o The ICO’s official position (if any) on whether Electoral
Registration Officers should register as data controllers (separate
from Local Authorities)
o Whether the ICO performs any checks to ensure all Electoral
Registration Officers are (separately) registered as data controllers?
o Whether the ICO is aware of any boroughs of London for which the
Electoral Registration Officer is not registered as a data controller?

You have further indicated that on carrying out your own search of the
public register you could not find any evidence that Electoral
Registration Officers had notified separately for Bexley, Hackney,
Haringey, Hounslow, Lambeth and Southwark.

As my colleague Ms Crowley has explained where a ‘request for
information’ contains an enquiry rather than a specific request for
copies of information held by the ICO we deal with such requests as
‘normal course of business’ rather than a formal request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act (2000). Your request has
therefore been forwarded to the Customer Service Team for response.

I should initially explain that the guidance you refer to in your enquiry
([2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...)
relates to the right of Electoral Registration Officers to inspect local
authority records and is not concerned with aspects of the notification
process.

It may be helpful to know that each separate legal entity must notify with
the ICO in its own right as a data controller in respect of their own
processing of personal data.

The ICO’s position will regard to whether Electoral Registration Officer
would need to notify separately as a data controller from the local
authority is that each data controller would need to consider any
requirement for separate notification for an Electoral Registration
Officers, if they are a separate legal entity in their own right.

The ICO does not perform regular checks in order to establish if any
organisation processing personal data is notified with us as a data
controller including Electoral Registration Officers however where it is
brought to our attention either from contact with the organisation or via
a complaint we will contact the organisation advising them to notify,
where necessary.

Having looked into the matter of London Boroughs and the separate
notification of Electoral Registration Officers, it has become apparent
that some boroughs are notified separately whilst others have included
Electoral Registration Officer in their overall local authority
notification.

As such I now intend to pass this information on to our notification
department for their further attention. I should make clear though that
there is a possibility that if a local authority can justify to the ICO
why they believe their Electoral Registration Officer would not be
required to notify separately and would be covered by their notification
as a local authority, this may not necessarily be a requirement.

I hope this information has been of assistance to you. I will now pass the
details of this matter to our notification department for their
consideration.

Yours sincerely

Hannah Burling

Casework Manager

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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

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1. file:///tmp/radD6605_files/filelist.xml
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

Dear Hannah Burling,

Thank you for the information provided. I am pleased to hear that you intend to pass this information on to the notification department for their further attention.

Yours faithfully,

John Cross

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,
Please could you let me know the outcome of the ICO's investigation of this matter.

Yours faithfully,

John Cross

Information Commissioner’s Office

1 Attachment

Link: [1]File-List

7th January 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0286787

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your email dated 30 December 2009 in which you have made a
request for information to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Specifically you have referred to “Electoral Registration Officers”
and your request states;

“Please could you let me know the outcome of the ICO's investigation of
this matter.”

As I understand it you are referring to my colleague Ms Burling’s
correspondence to you dated 30 October 2009 in relation to your enquiry
about notification (our reference ENQ0274341), in which you were informed
that the information about the notification of Electoral Registration
Officers in London Boroughs had been passed to our Notification
department.

I have contacted our Notification department regarding this matter and
they have confirmed that they have not yet considered this issue therefore
there is no “outcome”.  In answer to your question therefore please
be advised that we do not hold any recorded information which would answer
your request.

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received and wish to
request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how your
request has been handled you should write to the Internal Compliance Team
at the address below or e-mail [2][email address]

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request
received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.

If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation.  To make such an application, please write
to the Case Reception Team, at the address below or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information
Act or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.

 

A copy of our review procedure is attached.

Yours sincerely

Joanne Crowley

Assistant Internal Compliance Manager

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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/radA00EE_files/filelist.xml
2. mailto:[email address]

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