FOIA requests- what identifiers are used by the FOIA department to further requests for response from PHSO employees?

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman did not have the information requested.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

FOIA requests- what identifiers are used by the FOIA department to further FOI requests for response from PHSO employees?

I make this enquiry to understand why responses from other departments to FOIA team enquiries for requested information do not always seem to be included in the PHSO response to a Subject Access Request. ( personal data)

I would like to know, since the PHSO gives a reference number to each WDTK and personal request, which is linked to the person making it (both publically via WDTK- and privately), if the PHSO request number allotted to each request is used to forward enquiries for information to other departments, with the name of the requestee NOT included within the forwarded enquiry.

Other than the FOIA team responding to enquiries - without any consultation with other departments, which seems unlikely, there seems to be no explanation for why other departmental responses to the FOIA team -to answer FOI request- are sometimes absent from SAR's. Yet specific information, which logically can only be found by consultation with other PHSO employees, is given in the final request FOI response.

Could you therefore confirm that either the name of the requester, or any data linked to them.....such as the PHSO reference number of the request, is included within all requests for information to other departments?

If not, what is the reference, or format which the FOIA team uses to send FOIA requests to other PHSO employees - as an identifier for a particular FOI request ?

::::

Request Title/summary within scope.

I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section (Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of the Act.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK. The information should be immediately
readable - and, as a freedom of Information request, not put in a PDF or any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access.

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::::::

Please consider the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on file, rather than newly written letters of response.

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

This request does not require a newly drafted letter from by the External Affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence employees, and purporting to be the response to a FOIA request.

Yours faithfully,

JtOakley

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


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-270419)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 21 September 2016, in which you
asked:

 

Could you therefore confirm that either the name of the requester, or any
data  linked to them.....such as the PHSO reference number of the request,
is included within all requests for information to other departments?

If not, what is the reference,  or format which the FOIA team uses to send
FOIA requests to other PHSO employees - as an identifier for a particular 
FOI request ?

 

There is no standard format which staff handling Freedom of Information
(FOI) requests use when requesting information relevant to a request or
discussing proposed handling of a request.  However, correspondence
relating to a FOI request will almost always contain a case reference
number as this allows it to be saved easily to the relevant file in our
case management system.

 

I hope that this information is helpful. If you are unhappy with the way
we have processed your information request, you can request an internal
review.  Beyond that, it is open to you to complain to the Information
Commissioner’s Office ([1]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #360429 email]]
Sent: 21 September 2016 17:34
To: InformationRights
Subject: Freedom of Information request - FOIA requests- what identifiers
are used by the FOIA department to further requests for response from PHSO
employees?

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

FOIA requests- what identifiers are used by the FOIA department to
further  FOI requests for response  from PHSO employees?

I make this enquiry to understand why responses from other departments to
FOIA team enquiries for requested information do not always seem to be
included in the PHSO response to a Subject Access Request. ( personal
data)

I would like to know, since the PHSO gives a reference number to each WDTK
and personal request, which is linked to the person making it  (both
publically via WDTK-  and privately),  if the PHSO request number allotted
to each request is used to forward enquiries for information to other
departments,  with the name of the requestee NOT  included within the
forwarded enquiry.

Other than the FOIA team responding to enquiries - without any
consultation with other departments,  which seems unlikely, there seems to
be no explanation for why other departmental responses to the FOIA team
-to answer FOI request- are sometimes absent from SAR's. Yet specific
information,  which logically can only be found by consultation with other
PHSO  employees,  is given in the final request FOI response.

Could you therefore confirm that either the name of the requester, or any
data  linked to them.....such as the PHSO reference number of the request,
is included within all requests for information to other departments?

If not, what is the reference,  or format which the FOIA team uses to send
FOIA requests to other PHSO employees - as an identifier for a particular 
FOI request ?

::::

Request Title/summary within scope.

I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section
(Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under
section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of
the Act.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK. The information should be immediately
readable - and, as a freedom of Information request,  not put in a PDF or
any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access.

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::::::

Please consider  the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on
file, rather than newly written letters of response.

[4]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

This request does not require a newly drafted letter from by the External
Affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence
employees, and purporting to be the response to a FOIA request.

Yours faithfully,

JtOakley

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'FOIA requests- what identifiers are used by the FOIA department to further requests for response from PHSO employees?'.

You state: :

'There is no standard format which staff handling Freedom of Information
(FOI) requests use when requesting information relevant to a request or
discussing proposed handling of a request. However, correspondence
relating to a FOI request will almost always contain a case reference
number as this allows it to be saved easily to the relevant file in our
case management system' .

Thank you but you seem to be stating that FOIA request numbers, and any other file numbers which are linked either publically to requesters ( via WDTK) or internally ( due to the file data received from WDTK) are used to exclude requesters names when requests are sent to other departments for assistance.

And that is why SAR's are not fully returned.....as SAR searches are only made on names ( -as in my SAR ) and not searched using linked information, such as the file reference numbers, which are linked to - and can identify - the requester as a living person.

Could you please confirm my understanding of your response to the request - within your review- by stating which type of file data is EXCLUDED from SAR's by virtue of file numbers And other data signifiers being linked to the person requesting the SAR, being used - instead of names.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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


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Lant Mark, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

Dear JT Oakley

 

Please find enclosed a copy of my review of the handling of your request.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Mark Lant / Assistant Legal Adviser
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP

E: [1][email address]
[2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #360429 email]]
Sent: 18 October 2016 14:01
To: InformationRights
Subject: (FDN-270419) Internal review of Freedom of Information request -
FOIA requests- what identifiers are used by the FOIA department to further
requests for response from PHSO employees?

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'FOIA requests- what
identifiers are used by the FOIA department to further  requests for
response  from PHSO employees?'.

You state: :

'There is no standard format which staff handling Freedom of Information
(FOI) requests use when requesting information relevant to a request or
discussing proposed handling of a request.  However, correspondence
relating to a FOI request will almost always contain a case reference
number as this allows it to be saved easily to the relevant file in our
case management system' .

Thank you but you seem to be stating that FOIA request numbers,  and any
other file numbers which are linked  either publically  to requesters (
via WDTK)   or internally ( due to the file data  received from WDTK) are
used to exclude requesters names when requests are sent to other
departments for assistance.

And that is why SAR's  are not fully returned.....as SAR searches are only
made on names ( -as in my SAR ) and not searched using linked information,
such as the file reference numbers, which are linked to - and can identify
- the  requester as a living person.

Could you please confirm my understanding of your response to the request
- within your review- by stating which type of file data is EXCLUDED from
SAR's by  virtue of file numbers   And other data signifiers being linked
to the person requesting the SAR, being used - instead of names.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

-------------------------------------------------------------------
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Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
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For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

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Dear Lant Mark,

Thank you but this request does not ask for 'prescribed formats'. Or even 'standard' formats.

Indeed, if I has wanted to ask for 'prescribed or standard formats', I would have used the phrase.

::

The request asks what identifiers are used.

Logically there must be some identifiers used between the FOIA department and other departments, (I can already see some from the SAR).

But your response appears to be stating that the PHSO inter-departmental communications have NO identifiers...standard, prescribed, or any other types of identifiers, other than the names of requesters. Thus I have difficulty in understanding how requests are filed in any order, or are, indeed, retrievable.

::

I would refer you to the previous clarification - given to help and assist a response :

'I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'FOIA requests- what identifiers are used by the FOIA department to further requests for response from PHSO employees?'.
You state: :
'There is no standard format which staff handling Freedom of Information 
(FOI) requests use when requesting information relevant to a request or 
discussing proposed handling of a request. However, correspondence 
relating to a FOI request will almost always contain a case reference 
number as this allows it to be saved easily to the relevant file in our 
case management system' .
Thank you but you seem to be stating that FOIA request numbers, and any other file numbers which are linked either publically to requesters ( via WDTK) or internally ( due to the file data received from WDTK) are used to exclude requesters names when requests are sent to other departments for assistance.
And that is why SAR's are not fully returned.....as SAR searches are only made on names ( -as in my SAR ) and not searched using linked information, such as the file reference numbers, which are linked to - and can identify - the requester as a living person.
Could you please confirm my understanding of your response to the request - within your review- by stating which type of file data is EXCLUDED from SAR's by virtue of file numbers And other data signifiers being linked to the person requesting the SAR, being used - instead of names.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

::

In your latest response, you appear to be stating that FDA references, given to WDTK requesters are NOT used by the FOIA department when communicating with other departments.

This is one, in case you do not know to what I am referring:

-Your ref: Your information request (FDN-270419)-

Could you please therefore confirm absolutely that FDA references are NOT used by the FOIA department when communicating with other departments.

:::

In addition, S16 help and assistance has still not been provided in response to this request.

FYI :

https://ico.org.uk/media/1624140/duty-to...

Since you have previously referred how 'absurd' my request for a review was in internal documents:

"I pointed out just how absurd Mrs TO's request for a review was"...

If you found scope of this request, ( and therefore the need to change its terms by responding to a request which contained the words 'prescribed or standard formats' ) or it's request for a review to be 'absurd' , I would suggest that you should of attempted to apply S16 to the request for greater clarification.

Nb You will latterly be aware that the PHSO external investigator didn't find the fact that I had to seek information about a justified complaint 'absurd' at all - leading to Dame Julie Mellor making a formal apology to me.

:::

Therefore I would once again remind you of the importance of:

1. Not racking up publicly funded ICO and court costs by ignoring S16
2. Avoiding the PHSO criticism of the court By failing to provide S 16 help and assistance.

I would therefore draw your attention - once again - to the court criticism of the PHSO for previously not complying with S16 help and advice and erroneously vexing a request, subsequently overturned by the court.

This is what the court previously stated about the lack of S16 application and lack of professionalism in a WDTK response from the PHSO FOIA department to me:

::
'The Appellant clearly was not getting satisfaction nor the meaningful response she deserved. This Tribunal reminds itself that there is duty on Public Authorities to assist mem- bers of the public in formulating and processing their requests. On hearing the Appellant on the facts in this case we are of the view that more could have been done to assist the proc- essing of this request.
'That is what this case is all about. This failure to properly or adequately respond to this request led to confusion and frustration and a break down in communications such that the Appellant did not seek or deserve.
'We are satisfied that a more constructive and helpful response form the public authority would have averted the resulting persistence that evolved through the frustration caused to the Appellant by a failure to provide appropriate assistance and answers in an unnecessarily long and drawn out process of dealing with the Appellant. The evidence of impact of any burden on the authority is not, in our view, a burden that can or should be placed solely on the Appel- lant on the facts in this case'.
http://informationrights.decisions.tribu... name redacted]%20EA.2014.0093%20(19.01.2015)%20.pdf

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Lant Mark, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley

Thank you for your further email.

We hold no further information beyond what has already been explained.

If you remain dissatisfied it is open to you to approach the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Lant / Assistant Legal Adviser
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP
E: [email address]
www.ombudsman.org.uk

Follow us on

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Before you print think about the ENVIRONMENT

show quoted sections

Dear Lant Mark,

As explained, there seems to be considerable data missing from my SAR, and therefore it is justifiable to ask why those internal employees asking for SAR data held by other departments ONLY ask it to be provided by name -and NEVER (according to my SAR's ) any other identifiable link to the SAR requester, as demanded by the Directive and the Data Protection Act 1998.

Because, as you will already know, the FOIA states that links to members of the public, which make them identifiable ( such as WDTK requests-see below) should be provided within SAR's.

I had hoped to assist the PHSO in explaining how the SAR missing information could be obtained in order that the PHSO should comply with the law regarding linked information.

So the request was designed to find out why SAR information, which should logically exist as linked identifiers, was not returned as part of a SAR.

::::

However, as a lawyer, you will recognise that the law 'Directive and the Data Protection Act 1998' has been broken if information linked to personal identifier has not been returned within a SAR.

Nb Especially as it is stated TO exist in the returned parts of the SAR.

As the only possibility for why response information, which logically must exist in order to provide a WDTK response, is missing from my SAR ( and from what I am told, other SAR's). Surely, it cannot be that the PHSO is deliberately breaking the law.

Thus by not applying S16 help and advice as to how I might obtain this personally linked information identifiers are used, in order that requests for SAR data are fulfilled as the law demands, it could be construed as being deliberately unhelpful to those in the hope of obtaining logically (unless the FOIA department provides its own answers to WDTK requests without referring them to other PHSO sections) missing information from SAR's.

Therefore this request has a public interest determination.

::::::
FYI

ICO guidance

Our previous guidance covered the meaning of both “personal data” and “relevant filing system”. This guidance covers only “personal data”. We have also published guidance on the meaning of “relevant filing system”.

Personal data as defined by the Directive and the Data Protection Act 1998
The Directive
The object of the European Data Protection Directive1, implemented in the UK by the DPA, is to provide that “Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data”.
‘Personal data’ is defined in Article 2 of the Directive by reference to whether information relates to an identified or identifiable individual.

An individual is 'identified' if you have distinguished that individual from other members of a group. In most cases an individual’s name together with some other information will be sufficient to identify them.
A name is the most common means of identifying someone. However, whether any potential identifier actually identifies an individual depends on the context. By itself the name John Smith may not always be personal data because there are many individuals with that name.

However, where the name is combined with other information (such as an address, a place of work, or a telephone number, (*or a WDTK request ) this will usually be sufficient to clearly identify one individual

8. (Obviously, if two John Smiths, father and son, work at the same place then the name, John Smith, and company name alone will not uniquely identify one individual, more information will be required).

Simply because you do not know the name of an individual does not mean you cannot identify that individual. Many of us do not know the names of all our neighbours, but we are still able to identify them.

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

::

Since there has been no S16 help and advice to understand why linked data has apparently been illegally held, ( even mistakenly by not understanding the concept of linked data) I will - of course, as you suggest - progress this request to the ICO - as a matter of public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

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