Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I request the following information:

1. A copy of all standard forms required to be used in Visualfiles, Meridio and any other information system(s) for the purpose of maintaining accurate audits of complaint Assessments, Investigations, Reviews, Panel Assessments, DPA/FOI responses, judicial review and any other notified legal actions, legal and any other advice associated with a complaint.

2. A copy of the list(s) of 'Keywords' required to be used for completing forms and related explanatory notes and definitions.

3. A copy of the list(s) of case complaint "Themes" and associated explanatory notes and definitions.

4. A copy of the 'Delegation Scheme'.

5. A copy of the dates of all Assessment Panels and agendas (anonymised)

6. Information and data covering requests 1-5 should distinguish between forms (as amended from time to time) that were effective and in use in each year 2008 to date and between Parliamentary and Health complaints as relevant.

7. If my request should exceed any processing limits, recognising likely distinctions between Parliamentary and Health complaints, then the focus should be on information relevant to Parliamentary complaints.

If you require any further clarification please do not hesitate to let me know.

Many thanks.

Yours faithfully,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear E. Colville

I am writing in response to your email of 1 November 2013. I will respond to each of your requests in turn.

1. A copy of all standard forms required to be used in Visualfiles, Meridio and any other information system(s) for the purpose of maintaining accurate audits of complaint Assessments, Investigations, Reviews, Panel Assessments, DPA/FOI responses, judicial review and any other notified legal actions, legal and any other advice associated with a complaint.

I have attached a copy of the following ‘standard forms’ that are used in our casework:

• Assessment Form
• Case Assessment Checklist
• Parliamentary Directorate Investigation Plan
• Health Directorate Investigation Plan
• Request for Clinical Advice
• Request for Clinical Advice – Priority
• Recommendations and Outcomes Panel Form
• Review Proposal Sheet

Please note that the Assessment Form is no longer used for new complaints that are brought to us and the Case Assessment Checklist is used instead.

We do not use standard forms in the FOI and DP Team or in the Legal Team. Except where specified in the title, the same forms are used in both Health and Parliamentary cases.

2. A copy of the list(s) of 'Keywords' required to be used for completing forms and related explanatory notes and definitions.

The aim of the casework keywords is to provide high level information on the content of our casework which will, in turn, help us to achieve improvements in public services and position ourselves to inform public policy.

The casework keywords list is a discrete set of words used to describe the content of our casework. They are applied to organisations at Case Assessment stage to reflect the complaint as put to us. There are three types of keywords in use, 'complaint handling', 'health' and 'parliamentary'.

The health and parliamentary keywords are divided into three levels:

• Level 1 is parliamentary or health;
• Level 2 is based on the services delivered by the public sector, and includes complaint handling; and
• Level 3 describes case content in more detail.

I have attached a copy of the parliamentary, health and complaint handling keywords to this email.

The complaint handling keywords are based on the Ombudsman's Principles. You can read more about the Ombudsman’s Principles here: www.ombudsman.org.uk/improving-public-se...

3. A copy of the list(s) of case complaint "Themes" and associated explanatory notes and definitions.

I have attached a copy of our current list of casework themes to this email. Please note that new themes are added to the list as required.

Themes enable us to group cases together that have an issue in common, whether related to case content or our process for managing them (for example 'Weekend/Bank Holiday healthcare provision' or 'Offender and Detainee Healthcare'). They are recorded against the case rather than against the bodies who feature in the complaint. They allow us to keep track of certain issues as and when they arise, and to think about possible themes for future publication.

A theme can be added to a case at any stage in our process. A decision should be taken on a case by case basis as to which theme, if any, is relevant and should therefore be recorded. More than one theme can be added to a case.

4. A copy of the 'Delegation Scheme'.

The delegation scheme sets out the activities delegated by the Ombudsman and to whom they are delegated. A copy of the Delegation Scheme as from 30 September 2013 is attached to this email.

5. A copy of the dates of all Assessment Panels and agendas (anonymised)

The purpose of the assessment panel was to take decisions to accept, or not accept, a case for investigation and to ensure the decision is made correctly, consistently, strategically and efficiently. I have attached a copy of the dates for our assessment panels for 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. We do not hold records for before this period. Traditionally, our assessment panels have been scheduled twice a month with the venue alternating between the London and Manchester offices with video conferencing between them.

In 2012-13 we took a fresh look at complaints and how we work. We did research among the public and listened to our staff, Parliament, public services and other organisations. What we learned shaped our new strategy, launched in November 2012. The name of our strategy is ‘More impact for more people’ and you can access it on our website (www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/more-impact-for-more-people). One of the aims of our new strategy is to help more people by investigating more complaints and to provide an excellent service for our customers.

Under our new complaints process, complaints that meet some basic criteria will usually be accepted for formal investigation. Our first step is to look at whether the complaint is one that we can handle, because we can only investigate complaints where we have the legal power to do so. We will then carry out a series of simple, preliminary checks to ensure that the complaint is one which falls within the terms of our legislation. Because of our new process, it is less likely that a case will need to be discussed at an assessment panel and this is why, in part, we have not had an assessment panel since September 2013.

I have also attached an agenda template for the assessment panel. I can confirm that we hold agendas for the assessment panels that I have provided dates for above. I have not attached the individual agendas to this email because as you will see from the attached template, once the agendas have been anonymised they will be very similar and provide little information of value. It is also likely to take a long time to compile this information. However, if you still require anonymised copies of the assessment panel agendas, please write to us and we will endeavour to provide you with this information.

If you are interested in reading more about the types of complaints we receive and investigate, you can find further information on our website. In particular, I would like to refer you to the section on ‘Government performance information’ (www.ombudsman.org.uk/improving-public-service/annual-government-performance-information) and ‘Responsive and Accountable?’, our review of complaint handling by government departments and public organisations. You can access this report for 2011-12 and 2010-11 here: www.ombudsman.org.uk/reports-and-consult...

6. Information and data covering requests 1-5 should distinguish between forms (as amended from time to time) that were effective and in use in each year 2008 to date and between Parliamentary and Health complaints as relevant.

7. If my request should exceed any processing limits, recognising likely distinctions between Parliamentary and Health complaints, then the focus should be on information relevant to Parliamentary complaints.

I have provided you with a copy of the most up to date ‘standard forms’, keywords, casework themes, and delegation scheme that we have available. These documents are regularly updated to reflect changes in the external environment, the types of complaints that we receive, and the way in which we work.

Taking into the account the time that we have already spent on compiling the information for this request, to provide you with a copy of every version of the documents attached to this email from 2008 to date would exceed the ‘appropriate cost limit’ set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides an exemption from the obligation to comply with a request for information where the cost of compliance is estimated to exceed the appropriate limit. The appropriate limit in relation to this Office is £450 (or 18 hours at £25/hour).

I can assure you that I have tried to provide you with the most relevant and helpful information we hold with this response. To provide you with all of the information you have asked for going back to 2008 will not only be difficult and time consuming, it will involve compiling a large number of forms, some of which will contain only very minor amendments to the previous versions. To assist you, if there is a particular document that we used on a specific date that is of interest to you, please write to us and we will endeavour to provide you with the requested information.

I hope that my explanations and the information attached to this email are helpful. If you are unhappy with my handling of your information request, you can ask for a review by writing to: [email address]

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to look into your case. Their contact details are available on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

FOI and DP Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

show quoted sections

Dear Foi Officer,

Thank you for your response to my FOI request and for provision of some of the information I requested.

Respectfully, I find it hard to accept that compiling it caused the FOI team to approach the upper limit of 18 hours of input.

Nevertheless, you wrote:

"To assist you, if there is a particular document that we used on a specific date that is of interest to you, please write to us and we will endeavour to provide you with the requested information".

I would be obliged if I could receive copies of the following forms which I assume your IT Dept. can readily access from PHSO Archives:

1. Assessment Form (in effect 1 Nov 08 to 31 Jan 09)

2. Recommendations & Outcomes Panel Form (in effect 1 Nov 08 - 31 Jan 09)

3. Review Proposal Sheets ((a) in effect 1 May - 31 Dec 09 and (b) whole of 2010)

Thank you for your further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

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 'Forms'.

It has been nearly three weeks since I reasonably requested a number of documents consistent with my original request. Your response impliedley represented these would be made available to me upon request. If you are unable to provide them please proceed to put that decision into internal review.

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,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Colville

As you have now asked for earlier versions of forms, this constitutes a new request for response under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The statutory deadline for a response to this request (FDN-183468) is 26 February 2014.

We will let you know if we are unable to meet this deadline, but will not process an internal review in relation to your request until the statutory deadline has passed.

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I write in response to your reply today informing me PHSO have opened a new FOI request: FDN-183468.

The following relevant points must be brought to your attention:

1. If you review my original request of 1st November 2013 and PHSO's original response of 28th November you will see avoidable error where PHSO today writes:

"As you have NOW ASKED for earlier versions of forms, this constitutes a new request for response under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The statutory deadline for a response to this request (FDN-183468) is 26 February 2014." 
(emphasis mine)

2. I am not "now" asking for earlier versions of forms. They were requested in my original request.

3. It is noted that my original request was not assigned a FOI reference number consistent with observed PHSO FOI procedures. I would be grateful, therefore, if you would correct this omission and provide the relevant reference details.

4. My original request was in the following relevant terms:

"6. Information and data covering requests 1-5 should distinguish
 between forms (as amended from time to time) that were effective
 and in use in each year 2008 to date and between Parliamentary and
 Health complaints as relevant."

"7. If my request should exceed any processing limits, recognising likely distinctions between Parliamentary and Health complaints, then THE FOCUS SHOULD BE ON INFORMATION RELEVANT TO PARLIAMENTARY COMPLAINTS." (emphasis mine)

5. Without seeking any clarification or consulting me PHSO disregarded my direction and took upon itself to decide and select which were the "most relevant and helpful" documents PHSO would provide within the "appropriate cost limit". This included 4 NHS-related documents which I would willingly have forfeited and asked be substituted with other Parliamentary-related documents. Specifically, PHSO wrote:


"I have provided you with a copy of the most up to date ‘standard forms’, keywords, casework themes, and delegation scheme that we have available. […]

Taking into the account the time that we have already spent on compiling the information for this request, to provide you with a copy of every version of the documents attached to this email from 2008 to date would exceed the ‘appropriate cost limit’ set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. […] 

I can assure you that I have tried to provide you with the most relevant and helpful information we hold with this response. […]"

6. PHSO also wrote:

"To assist you, if there is a particular document that we used on a specific date that is of interest to you, please write to us and we will endeavour to provide you with the requested information." 


7. PHSO did not clarify that in the event it would be necessary to open a separate FOI request to fulfil PHSO's full obligations per the terms of my original request. Rather, I accepted and acted upon what I had construed to be good faith acting by the PHSO to provide particular additional documents consistent with my original request for information.

8. In the circumstances, I consider it unreasonable for PHSO to try to renege on my legitimate expectations by withdrawing its implied good faith offer of follow-up assistance within the terms of my original request. I do not accept the argument PHSO has advanced for opening a new FOI request.

9. In the light of the foregoing, PHSO is asked to reconsider its position and to process my request for the particular forms in question under the original FOI request.

Yours faithfully,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Colville

The reference number of your initial request is FDN-177234. I am sorry you were not provided with this in the first instance and I will pass your concerns to the Review Team.

We will send you the additional forms you have requested as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for your prompt response this afternoon and providing details of case reference number FDN-177234 corresponding to my original request for information.

You have also written:-

"We will send you the additional forms you have requested as soon as possible."

Kindly clarify that that undertaking will be done under FDN-177234; that FDN-183468 is redundant and has now been closed.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Have you noticed that the PHSO never uses your reference..the title of your request in WDTK is 'Forms' ....but uses its own log numbers?

(You know, the log which the PHSO states does not exist...)

I am now asking that responders use both my reference and theirs- for clarity and out of common courtesy.

Because the suspicion is that by adding their own new numbers to your request they end up 'driving' it - with the result that it ends up being a mass of their log numbers, leaving you with no personal reference and only immediately comprehensible to them.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Good points JT Oakley. The 'at whim' creation by public authorities of needless additional requests should be avoided at all cost. I've had the misfortune of being characterised as a 'vexatious requester' by a public authority which, in its desparation to avoid information disclosure, resorted to the dirty trick of using a simple "clarification" I made the day after I subitted a FOI request to split it and so create a second one; shortly after to convert a DPA request into a FOI request and then lump together the two additional FOI requests they themselves had created with my original request - but only after they altered the reference number of my original request to make the sequence appear that the requests they had created came first - as a justification to claim the lumped requests were 'vexatious' thereby exempting information disclosure.

The ICO bought into the authority's trickery and subsequent false statements and evidence. As did the Information Tribunal.

The judge refused my requests for directions to (i) compel the production of evidence from the authority to prove its deceit and dishonesty; and (ii) compel witness statements from the public authority for cross-examination at oral hearing; and (iii) Ordered that I desist from filing any further papers to support and prove my claims of dishonesty. Coincidentally, the Justice Ministry announced the judge had been promoted within about a week of her upholding the 'vexatious' decision.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Oh...I forgot to add. The judge in question subsequently refused my application to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

And, strange as it may seem, she was appointed as the judge to preside and decide all four of the separate appeals I took to the First Tier Tribunal, in each case upholding the public authorities' decisions.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Yes.. I'd advise everyone to ask government organisations exactly :

1 What they want clarified ( the standard delaying tactic now).

2. When they fail to answer your initial request refuse their subsequent re-numbering of it - unless you have your own reference and that you gave made this request.

Because what is happening is that the organisations are failing to answer your request, then re- defining it to suit themselves, hoping that you will be lost in their complicated re-definitions.

If they do this - refuse to play under their constraints and make a new request, stating exactly what you want to know and stating that they must use your reference.

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Colville

 

Thank you for your email dated 29^th January 2014 where you request the
following information:

 

I would be obliged if I could receive copies of the following forms

 

1. Assessment Form (in effect 1 Nov 08 to 31 Jan 09)

 

2. Recommendations & Outcomes Panel Form (in effect 1 Nov 08 - 31 Jan 09)

 

3. Review Proposal Sheets ((a) in effect 1 May - 31 Dec 09 and (b) whole
of 2010)

 

I am treating your correspondence as a request for information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).  A search for the information has
been completed and I can confirm that some of this information is held by
PHSO. Please find attached copies of the forms requested at points 1 and 2
of your request. The Assessment form attached, used from 10 July 2007,
underwent very few changes between 2006 and its substantive revision in
2011. On the balance of probabilities it is likely that this form is the
one in use in 2008-09.

 

PHSO holds the 2007 version of the Recommendations & Outcomes Panel Form
that was used when the Panel launched. There may have been minor changes
to the form in 2008/09 but the fundamental questions that the form asked
have remained the same since 2007.

 

The Review Proposal Sheets did not exist in 2009 and 2010. They were first
introduced in the summer of 2011. Before that, PHSO staff involved in a
review used to use notes to communicate with each other.

 

I note that you were already sent a copy of the current Review Proposal
form in your request dated 1^st  November 2013 (Our Ref:FDN-177234) and
available at the link here:

 

[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

 

If you are unhappy with my handling of your request you can ask for an
internal review by writing to the Review Team at: 
complaints[2][email address]

 

If you remain dissatisfied it is open to you to approach the Information
Commissioner’s Office. Details of how to do so can be found on their
website at: [3]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI/DP Officer

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...
2. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

RESTRICTED

Dear Ms Colville

I am writing in response to your email of 18 February 2014. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request (FDN-177234).

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to the Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve Brown.

Mr Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review that we will undertake.

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

Yours sincerely

Tanya Jackson
Business Support Officer to the Review Team Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Follow us on

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Dear foiofficer,

I am responding to your notification today about a complaint review to be conducted by Mr Steve Wood.

Before any review gets underway there needs to be absolute clarity on the following matters by reference to the full case history:

On 17th Feb 2014 I requested an IR because of PHSO's omission to provide information consistent with the terms of my original FOI request.

On 18th Feb PHSO unilaterally decided to issue a new FOI reference number (FDN-183468) back-dated to 29th January thereby giving PHSO an opportunity to correct the omissions to be addressed in my request for IR. I objected to this proposed course of action in a reply of the same date. In reply also of the same date PHSO provided reference number FDN-177234 corresponding to my original request with an apology it had not been provided earlier. In turn I replied seeking an assurance that FDN-183468 was redundant. That there was only one Ref. Number related to the original request and that was FDN-177234.
PHSO has not yet answered that question.

Yesterday, 25th Feb PHSO provided three further documents corresponding to my original request. There are issues with the provision of these further documents that I want to make as part of my request for IR - details yet to be submitted.

Today, 26th Feb PHSO write to inform me that FDN-177234 is being treated as a complaint to be looked into by Mr Wood who will aim to reply within 40 days.

PHSO has caused considerable confusion where there should be none.

Until there is clarity on the matter of whether or not there is one or two FOI requests and response, I am unable to finalise what are the proper grounds for requesting an IR under the terms of the FOI Act.

Finally, I would point out that under the Commissioner's Good Practice Guide (No. 5) covering time limits on carrying out internal reviews: -

"The Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing
an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request
for review."

It further provides:

"There may be a small number of cases which involve exceptional
circumstances where it may be reasonable to take longer. In those
circumstances, the public authority should, as a matter of good
practice, notify the requester and explain why more time is
needed."

In the light of this why is it that PHSO propose to take up to 40 days to conduct the required IR(s)?

I would be grateful if you would clarify all these issues as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear E Colville

 

Thank you for your further comments. I can confirm that the review will
consider how we handled your request and this will include the responses
provided under references FDN-177234 and FDN-183468.

 

You are not required to submit further arguments or information in support
of your review.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI officer.

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for your message of 10th March in respect of your internal review of FDN-177234 and FDN- 183468.

You have written: -

"You are not required to submit further arguments or information in support of your review".

Whereas that may be the case, for the avoidance of any doubt, please ensure that the internal review of my FOIA request takes fully into account all relevant considerations as set out in the linked ICO guidance for public authorities. Selected excerpts of particular relevance are reproduced for your ready reference: -

1. "Interpreting and clarifying a request" See:-
http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

(2). "Determining whether information is held", taking particular note of the following quoted sections:-
http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

Selected excerpts:-

5. When a public authority claims the information is not held, the Commissioner will decide whether this is the case on the balance of probabilities. He will reach a decision based on the adequacy of the public authority's search for the information and other reasons explaining why the information is not held, such as there being no business need to record it.

42. When an electronic document is created and subsequently worked on, information about its properties is automatically generated and stored. The information records details such as the author, dates, editing history, size, file paths security settings and any email routing history. It is commonly known as metadata. Metadata is recorded for the business purposes of the public authority and is used in their Records Management. The Lord Chancellor's code of practice on the management of records issued under s.46 of FOIA promotes the recording of metadata at paragraph 9.3(a). For the purposes of FOIA and the EIR this information is held by public authorities.

44. If an applicant specifically requests information on the properties of an electronic document, public authorities will be obliged to provide it, subject to provisions in the relevant legislation. However, if it is not requested there is no expectation that public authorities will provide it.

47. In many cases both the original and updated versions of the information will be held at the time the public authority answers the request. [...] In [,,,,] the Tribunal pointed out that section 1(4) provides that a public authority may take account of any routine amendment, it does not state that a public authority must take account of such an amendment. It recommended, and the Commissioner agrees, that where both the amended and the original information that existed at the time of the request are still held, the public authority should provide the original information.

54. The guidance has considered specific factors that will determine whether the public authority holds the requested information. However, there is a more basic issue about what happens when a public authority claims it is unable to find information captured by a request.

55. When the Commissioner receives a complaint that a public authority has not provided any or all of the requested information, it is seldom possible to prove with absolute certainty that there either isn't any information or anything further to add. The Commissioner will apply the normal civil standard of proof in determining the case, i.e. he will decide on the balance of probabilities whether the information is held [....] In applying this test the Commissioner will consider:

- the scope, quality, thoroughness and results of the searches;

- other explanations offered as to why the information is not held

57. If the public authority is able to demonstrate that it has never had a business need to record the information, the Commissioner is more likely to be persuaded that no information is held, For example, if the requested information does not relate to matters that the public authority is responsible for, it is unlikely to hold the information.

59. However, if there are statutory duties or practical reasons to hold the information,the Commissioner will need more evidence to convince him that it is not held. Also, the Commissioner will consider any internal records management policies that suggest the information should be held.

60. When a public authority accepts that the information was held but has now been destroyed, the Commissioner will initially look at the public authority's destruction schedules and the age of the information. He will also take account of the importance of the information to the public authority. The more important the information is, the more UNLIKELY he will consider it that the public authority would have chosen to destroy it. In some circumstances the Commissioner will require the public authority to conduct searches to ensure that the information is not held or to demonstrate that it is adhering to the retention policies.

67. Other information which will be published shortly includes:

- Manifestly unreasonable requests
- Retention and destruction of requested information
- Providing access to both information and documents

(3). "Requests where the costs of compliance with a request exceeds the appropriate limit" See:
http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guid...

Sections of relevance include the following:-

" Where a public authority claims that section 12 is engaged, it should, where reasonable, provide advice and assistance to help the requestor to refine the request so that it can be dealt with under the appropriate limit"

" 11. [..] the appropriate limit will be exceeded if it would require more than 24 hours work from central government..."

" 22. ...a reasonable estimate is one that is "....sensible, realistic and supported by cogent evidence"

"24. ....an estimate is unlikely to be reasonable where an authority has failed to consider an obvious and quick means of locating, retrieving or extracting the information"

"25. A realistic estimate is one based on the time it would take to obtain the requested information from the relevant records or files as they existed at the time of the request, or up to the date for statutory compliance with the request"

" 28. A public authority is not obliged to search for, or compile some of the requested information before refusing a request that it estimates will exceed the appropriate limit. Instead, it can rely on having cogent arguments and/or evidence in support of the reasonableness of its estimate. It is good practice to give these arguments or evidence to the requestor at the outset to help them understand why the request has been refused. This reasoning is also likely to be required if a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner.

" 31. A public authority may search up to or even beyond the appropriate level of its own volition. Also, if a requestor asks a public authority to search up to or beyond the appropriate limit and the public authority is willing, then it can do so"

"32 As a matter of good practice public authorities should avoid providing the information as a result if its searches and claiming section 12 for the remainder of the information. It is accepted that this is often done with the intention of being helpful but it ultimately denies the requestor the right to express a preference as to which part or parts of the request they may wish to receive which can be provided under the appropriate limit"

"33. In practice, as soon as a public authority becomes aware that it intends to reply on section 12, it makes sense for it to stop searching for the requested information and inform the complainant. This avoids any further and unnecessary work for the public authority as it does not meed to provide any information at all if section 12 is engaged"

" 34. A public authority may also choose to support is claim of section 12 by providing evidence of the random or representative sample exercise it has carried out"

"36. Alternatively, it may be useful to pick a representative sample of files or records which fall within the scope of the request to demonstrate the application of section 12. For example, one file from each of the years referred to in the request or one file from each relevant department. "

"37. It is useful if a public authority explains how it has calculated its estimate by explaining:
- whether it has carried out any searches for the requested information
- whether it has based its estimate on a random or representative sampling exercise
- which departments or members of staff have been contacted
- the search terms used when querying electronic records

"38. It is not a statutory requirement to explain how the estimate has been calculated but is is beneficial to a public authority to do so for the following reasons:

- to enable the requestor to assess the reasonableness of the estimate. This may help to prevent a complaint to the Information Commissioner which will avoid further time and costs being expended on the same request;

- if a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner, then he will expect the level of detail, as set out above, to be provided. This may require the public authority to incur further costs in providing this detail"

" 62. Paragraph 14 of the section 45 Code of Practice states that where a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request because it would exceed the appropriate limit to do so, then it: "should consider providing an explanation of what, if any, information could be provided within the cost ceiling. The authority should also consider advising the applicant that by refining or refocusing their request, information may be able to be supplied for a lower, or no fee"

"65. In cases where it is reasonable to provide advice and assistance in the particular circumstances of the case, the minimum a public authority should do to satisfy section 16 is:

- either indicate if it is not able to provide any information at all within the appropriate limit; or
- provide an indication of what information could be provided within the appropriate limit; and
- provide advice and assistance to enable the requestor to make a refined request

"66. There is likely to be a breach of section 16 where a public authority has failed to indicate that it is unable to provide any information within the appropriate limit. This is based on a plain English interpretation of the phrase "...what, if any, information could be provided""

"68. A public authority should inform the requestor of what information can be provided within the appropriate limit. This is important for two reasons; firstly, because a failure to do so may result in a breach of section 16. Secondly, because doing so is more useful than just advising the requestor to "narrow" the request or be more specific in focus"

"69. " ... a failure to provide advice and assistance does not invalidate the original costs estimate. Although, such a failure may of course mean that the public authority has breached section 16"

"70. The Commissioner concludes that the implication of the original estimate remaining valid is that the refined request becomes a new request. This means that the statutory time for compliance commences on the date of the receipt of that new request"

"71. However, public authorities should note that the original and refined/new requests should not be aggregated for the purposes of calculating costs of dealing with the new request as to do so would frustrate the purposes behind sections 12 and 16"

I hope to receive your internal review response shortly.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
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Dear foiofficer,

Reference my message of 13 March 2014 in which I quoted from the ICO's Guidance to public authorities as follows:-

"44. If an applicant specifically requests information on the
properties of an electronic document, public authorities will be
obliged to provide it, subject to provisions in the relevant
legislation. However, if it is not requested there is no
expectation that public authorities will provide it."

would you please provide information on the properties of all the electronic documents PHSO has provided me to date under my request "Forms".

I understand it may be necessary for PHSO to create a new FOI case reference to fulfil this additional information request.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

I wrote to you recently on 17 February 2014 requesting an internal review and subsequently on 26 February 2014 for some information including clarification on the PHSO proposal to take up to 40 days to complete an internal review when the ICO's guidance under the FOI Act clearly states that public authorities should aim to complete internal reviews within 20 days.

This request for further information and for internal review are now overdue. Please could you let me know the reasons for this non-compliance.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Dear foiofficer,

In your response of 25 February you provided copies of two electronic Forms in WORD format. I can read each of those documents' properties on downloading.

In 2005, the Information Tribunal stated in Harper vs Royal Mail (http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB... that:

“The extent of the measures that could reasonably be taken by a Public Authority to recover deleted data will be a matter of fact and degree in each individual case. Simple restoration from a trash can or recycle bin folder, or from a back-up tape, should normally be attempted, as the Tribunal considers that such information continues to be held.”

This case established that documents that have been deleted from live systems are still held.

At paragraph 23 the Tribunal found that:

"...systems can be restored entirely to a previous state using software that is part of the computer's own opertaing system. For example, the RESTORE facility in WINDOWS will restore the system to the way it existed on a previous date chosen by the operator, including information that existed at that date".

In the light of the above, I am struggling to understand why you haven't used the RESTORE facility to provide copies of all versions of Forms and other information I originally requested on 1 November 2013, rather than selectively picking Forms you consider, on a 'balance of probability" test are likely to respond to my specific requests.

You yourselves have stated that the Forms underwent very few changes since 2006. That assertion implies that in order to make it you had to make a reference to held information on what were the changes to original documents over the timescale of my request.

I would ask you to please address these points.

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Our Ref:186962

 

Dear Ms Colville

 

Thank you for your email dated 19 March 2014 where you request the
following information:

 

would you please provide information on the properties of all the
electronic documents PHSO has provided me to date under my request
"Forms".

 

I am treating your correspondence as a request for information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).  A search for the information has
been completed and I can confirm that this information is held by PHSO.
Please find attached copies of the properties of all the electronic
documents PHSO has provided to date, under your request “Forms”.

 

In your email dated 2 April 2014 you then went on to ask:  

 

why you haven't used the RESTORE facility to provide copies of all
versions of Forms and other information I originally requested on 1
November 2013, rather than selectively picking Forms you consider, on a
'balance of probability" test are likely to respond to my specific
requests.

 

Whilst the FOI Act does not generally require a public authority to
consider the reason a requester is seeking certain information I note that
much of the information you seek in this follow-up email, is seemingly
aimed at carrying out an investigation into how we responded to your
request rather than asking for recorded information itself. 

 

If this is so and you remain dissatisfied following the internal review
conducted into PHSO’s handling of your initial request I recommend that
you take your complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is best
placed to investigate under the provisions of Section 50 of the Freedom of
Information Act. Further details of the role and powers of the Information
Commissioner can be found on the Commissioner's website:

[1]www.ico.org.uk

 

If you are unhappy with my handling of your request you can ask for an
internal review by writing to the Review Team at: 
complaints[2][email address]

 

If you remain dissatisfied it is open to you to approach the Information
Commissioner’s Office. Details of how to do so can be found on their
website at: [3]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

FOI/DP Officer

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.org.uk/
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Honestly.... why don't they make it easier for themselves by just simply answering the request.

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