Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner breaching the spirit of FOIA

Timothy Slater made this Freedom of Information request to Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

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 successful.

Dear Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner,

This is a FOI request in particular to Nikki Park, Head of Executive Services.

I note that in your initial responses to FOI requests to the Commissioner that you are asking requesters the following:-

"The Commissioner represents the people of Greater Manchester and as such we would ask that you provide the following information:
- your full name
- your full postal address including postcode
- contact telephone number"

The essence of all requests to public bodies is that they are applicant blind!

In asking requesters the above information is breaching the requirements of the FOIA 2000.

To be valid under the Act, the request must:
Include an address for correspondence. This need not be the person’s residential or work address – it can be any address at which you can write to them, including a postal address or email address;

Public Bodies that spend public resources must be fully transparent. The rationale of the act is:-

"Openness is fundamental to the political health of a modern state. This White Paper marks a watershed in the relationship between the government and people of the United Kingdom. At last there is a government ready to trust the people with a legal right to information."

Public authorities spend money collected from taxpayers, and make decisions that can significantly affect many people’s lives. Access to information helps the public make public authorities accountable for their actions and allows public debate to be better informed and more productive.

"Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in governance and defective decision-making." - Your Right to Know

Can you please fully explain:-

1. Why you are asking for all this information?

2. Whether you will agree to only ask for information as required by the act and no more and if affirmative on what date that will occur?

3. Whether you have had any FOI training, what the training comprised of, when it occurred and whether you have any Freedom of Information Accreditation?

Yours faithfully,

Timothy Slater

GMPCC Info, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

Thank you for your email. Emails are treated in the same manner and with the same level of importance as other communications such as post, telephone and fax. Nevertheless we will respond to you promptly.
If your email relates to a complaint or general enquiry, please note the following information.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is separate to Greater Manchester Police. If you are trying to report a crime, please call 999 in an emergency or 101 for non emergency issues.
The Commissioner represents the people of Greater Manchester and as such we would ask that you provide the following information:
- your full name
- your full postal address including postcode
- contact telephone number
Tony Lloyd will always try to help people who are having problems with the Police. His office does not have investigatory powers nor can the Commissioner’s office act as an appeals process for decisions already made. Tony Lloyd will forward your complaint to the Police complaints process or, if necessary, raise concerns with Police officers at the appropriate level, be that the relevant area Commander or Chief Constable.
You can of course make an official complaint direct to Greater Manchester Police, you can find out more about that here http://www.gmp.police.uk/Live/Nhoodv3.ns...
The Independent Police Complaints Commission can also be contacted; more information about their processes can be found here http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/en/Pages/your_com...
Thank you again for getting in touch. We will reply to your email as soon as possible.

Dear Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner,

Thank you for your instant reply to my FOI request. I note that the automatic response that you have sent to me contains the same details that you are requesting from all requesters that you should not be doing.

For the sake of doubt I have completely complied with the FOIA in my request and the fact that you have my name and and email address for correspondence.

May I also suggest that you should as a matter of courtesy advise requesters that your standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days of your receipt of a request as per the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You might also consider giving requests a reference number as public bodies should have a register of requests. Perhaps a complete revise of your acknowledgement letter should be considered.

Yours faithfully,

Timothy Slater

Phelan, Lucy, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

Dear Timothy,

Thank you for your email and your useful comments.

We are working on adjusting our automated acknowledgement to include information regarding Freedom Of Information requests.

Once again, thank you for your comments.

Kind regards,

Lucy Phelan
Executive Services Officer

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Dear Phelan, Lucy,

Thank you for your latest reply and an indication that you will be adjusting your response correctly to requesters as per FOI guidance.

I trust that you will be answering the questions posed in the request in the near future.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

Park, Nikki, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

Dear Timothy

Thank you for your emails. I understand Lucy has responded to questions 1 and 2 and I can confirm that the automated message has now been amended.

With regards to question 3, whilst under the freedom of information act we are not obliged to provide information on an individual's training, I am happy to advise that although I have not had any formal accreditation I have completed FOI internal on line training courses provided by my employer.

Kind regards
Nikki

Nikki Park
Head of Executive Services

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester Civic Centre Complex Chorley Road Swinton Salford
M27 5DA

Telephone: 0161 793 3036

gmpcc.org.uk
facebook.com/gmpcc
twitter.com/gmpcc

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Dear Park, Nikki,

May I ask whether I shall be receiving a reply to questions 1 & 2 within the allotted 20 days which ends tomorrow?

I would also be grateful if you would explain why you are still using the unlawful response to a FOI request after being informed of same nearly a month ago. How long does it take to alter?

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

Park, Nikki, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

Dear Timothy

As mentioned in my response to you, Lucy had addressed your questions 1 and 2 in her response sent on 18th August, 2014.

To clarify I have detailed the questions and responses below:

1. Why you are asking for all this information? - this was a standard automated response for all correspondence and we have now amended it making specific reference to FOIs.

2. Whether you will agree to only ask for information as required by the act and no more and if affirmative on what date that will occur? The automated message has now been amended.

3. Whether you have had any FOI training, what the training comprised of, when it occurred and whether you have any Freedom of Information Accreditation? I responded to you direct on this.

I hope this is helpful

Kind regards
Nikki

Nikki Park
Head of Executive Services

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
for Greater Manchester
Civic Centre Complex
Chorley Road
Swinton
Salford
M27 5DA

Telephone: 0161 793 3036

gmpcc.org.uk
facebook.com/gmpcc
twitter.com/gmpcc

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Dear Park, Nikki,

With respect my question 1.'Why you are asking for all this information', has not been answered. You simply keep stating that this is/was your standard response. The question was asking why you are / were using an unlawful response?

You further state that you have amended your response but I have not noticed this to subsequent responses to requests that have occurred since my request.

Perhaps you could say when you first used the new response and provide a copy here to me please?

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

Battersby, Nigel, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

 

I refer to your further email sent to Nikki Park on the 13 September 2014.

 

The original ‘out of office’ response was a standard automated response
provided to all correspondence received by the ‘Info Line’ email address
of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester.
The info line is not a designated email address for receiving Freedom of
Information requests only and also deals with complaints and other general
enquiries that are made by members of the public.

 

In view of the fact that the requestor’s address for responding to Freedom
of Information Act requests need not be a residence or work address the
wording of the automated response has now been amended to distinguish
Freedom of Information cases from other complaints and general enquiries
and asks only for name and contact details in FOI cases.

 

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner requested that the
amendments be made by IT on the 19 August 2014. However it appears that
the IT representative did not initially amend the controls to enable
external users to receive the amended response and so only internal users
received it. The new automated response was first provided to external
users on the 2 September 2014.

 

The wording of the new automated response now appears as below.

 

This is an automatic reply.

Thank you for your email.

If you have not sent us this information already, please can you make sure
you have given us the following:

- your full name
- your full postal address including postcode
- contact telephone number

Tony Lloyd represents the people of Greater Manchester and will always try
to help people who are having problems with the police. His office does
not have investigatory powers nor can the Commissioner’s office act as an
appeals process for decisions already made. Tony Lloyd will forward your
complaint to the police complaints process or, if necessary, raise
concerns with police officers at the appropriate level, be that the
relevant area commander or chief constable.

You can of course make an official complaint direct to Greater Manchester
Police: [1]http://www.gmp.police.uk/complaints.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission can also be contacted:
[2]http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/complaints.

If you are submitting a Freedom of Information Request, please note that
we only require your name and contact details and we will respond to you
within 20 working days.

If you want to contact the police, please call 101. In an emergency,
always dial 999.

Thank you again for getting in touch. We will reply to your email as soon
as possible.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester
[3][Greater Manchester PCC request email] | [4]www.gmpcc.org.uk

 

I trust that this satisfactorily answers your enquiry.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Nigel J Battersby
Solicitor

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
for Greater Manchester
Civic Centre Complex
Chorley Road
Swinton
Salford
M27 5DA

Telephone: 0161 793 3040

[5]gmpcc.org.uk
[6]facebook.com/gmpcc
[7]twitter.com/gmpcc

[8]TonyLloyd-logo-emailsig

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: [9]Timothy Slater
Sent: ‎13/‎09/‎2014 23:09
To: [10]Park, Nikki
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Greater Manchester Police
and Crime Commissioner breaching the spirit of FOIA

Dear Park, Nikki,

With respect my question 1.'Why you are asking for all this information',
has not been answered. You simply keep stating that this is/was your
standard response. The question was asking why you are / were using an
unlawful response?

You further state that you have amended your response but I have not
noticed this to subsequent responses to requests that have occurred since
my request.

Perhaps you could say when you first used the new response  and provide a
copy here to me please?

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

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Dear Battersby, Nigel,

Somehow I feel I am going around in circles with GMPCC.

You continue to apparently ask on FOI requests for the following:

- your full name
- your full postal address including postcode
- contact telephone number

By their nature FOI requests are applicant blind and all that you can legally request is a name (not full name ) on the WDTK website, as the recipients email address is lawfully their address for reply.

This is why I asked what FOI training your operatives had?

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

Battersby, Nigel, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

Dear Mr Slater

I do not think that I am really able to add very much more to my earlier email. The info line is a generic info line for receiving complaints and other general enquiries from members of the public, as well as Freedom of Information requests.

I believe that the wording of the original 'out of office' automated email response was not put together by the members of staff at this office who handle Freedom of Information requests.

In relation to FOI requests the wording of the automated response has now been amended to include an additional sentence:

If you are submitting a Freedom of Information Request, please note that we only require your name and contact details and we will respond to you within 20 working days.

If you still remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,

Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Telephone: 08456 30 60 60

or 01625 54 57 45

Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

I trust that this is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

Nigel J Battersby
Solicitor
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
for Greater Manchester
Civic Centre Complex
Chorley Road
Swinton
Salford
M27 5DA
Telephone: 0161 793 3040
gmpcc.org.uk
facebook.com/gmpcc
twitter.com/gmpcc

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Dear Battersby, Nigel,

As a public authority you continue to ask for a telephone number and postal address in your acknowledgements of FOI requests and despite my pointing out to you a number of times for FOI requests you are not required to seek such information (an email address for reply and name only is sufficient) you continue to do so. FOI requests are essentially applicant blind.

It seems that after communicating on this matter with you a number of times you continue this practice.

Can you confirm finally whether you will adjust the wording of your acknowledgement or not? If not please provide a copy of the legislation / guidance on FOI requests that allows you to continue to request this information as routine.

May I suggest as an aside to asist GMPCC that you view how other public authorities on WDTK acknowledge requests and even other PCC's. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/list...

It is possible that you are putting people off requesting legitimate FOI requests by continuing the above requirement.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

Phelan, Lucy, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner

1 Attachment

Hi Timothy,

Thank you for your further email. As indicated in my email to you dated 18th August 2014, we have amended our automated acknowledgement to include information regarding Freedom of Information requests.

I have attached a copy of the automated acknowledgement for your reference.

Kind regards,

Lucy

________________________________________
From: Timothy Slater [ ]
Sent: 18 October 2014 18:07
To: Battersby, Nigel
Subject: RE: FW: Freedom of Information request - Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner breaching the spirit of FOIA

Dear Battersby, Nigel,

As a public authority you continue to ask for a telephone number and postal address in your acknowledgements of FOI requests and despite my pointing out to you a number of times for FOI requests you are not required to seek such information (an email address for reply and name only is sufficient) you continue to do so. FOI requests are essentially applicant blind.

It seems that after communicating on this matter with you a number of times you continue this practice.

Can you confirm finally whether you will adjust the wording of your acknowledgement or not? If not please provide a copy of the legislation / guidance on FOI requests that allows you to continue to request this information as routine.

May I suggest as an aside to asist GMPCC that you view how other public authorities on WDTK acknowledge requests and even other PCC's. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/list...

It is possible that you are putting people off requesting legitimate FOI requests by continuing the above requirement.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Slater

show quoted sections

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