How are complaints recorded when received?

The request was partially successful.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

I require information on how you record FOI complaints.

My interest in this matter stems from an allegation made on WDTK by the investigative journalist and justice campaigner Neil Wilby. He states that it took 377 days before his complaint was given a reference number. Specifically he wrote:

"This complaint has finally been logged by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) under reference FS50708629.

After a series of increasingly far-fetched reasons not to investigate, the ICO finally admitted, after threat of legal action from me, that the complaint had been 'overlooked' - and will now be treated as a priority.

It took 377 days to reach that point (21st October, 2016 to 2nd November, 2017).

Little wonder public authorities, such as North Yorkshire Police, laugh in the face of the so-called statutory regulator. "

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

1. As of today, how many FOI complaints that could potentially be allocated a case reference number have not been allocated one.

2. Please provide information to confirm how a FOI complaint is recorded on your computer system when received. Specify the computer fields requiring completion.

3. Please state the job title(s) of whoever records the complaints.

4. Please provide information on the time by which a FOI complaint received in your office should be recorded. If you monitor the time taken to record complaints, please provide details of your most recent findings. Monthly report, perhaps?

5. Please provide a screenshot of a blank page(s) used to record an FOI complaint when it first arrive in your office..

6. Please provide information on the number of live complaints not yet allocated a case reference number after:

100 days;
200days;
300 days.

7. Please provide details of the information a telephone operator (customer services) requires from a complainant to confirm that their complaint has been recorded in circumstances where they do not have a case reference number.

8. Please provide a screenshot of the information that a telephone operator can view when dealing with a query from a complainant who has no case reference number, if different from the information requested in part 5 above.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

AccessICOinformation, Information Commissioner’s Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO we will contact
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The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

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Tim Vic left an annotation ()

Here's one to be going on with. (539 days)

A complaint was escalated to the ICO on 14 May 2016 relating to the Crown Prosecution Service failing to deal with a request.

On 1 October 2017 the following email was sent to the ICO querying the matter:

:....: Dear Sir/Madam, I have checked my records and can not find any correspondence relating to the case (attached) being allocated to a Case Officer to investigate. Can you please confirm whether the matter has been dealt with or if it has been overlooked. :....:

The ICO responded stating that the complaint had been dealt with confirming that the CPS sent a response on 13 September 2016 and attached the letter. The manager dealing with the matter stated that he could not guarantee that any further communications would receive a response. However, the letter attached did not correspond to the specific complaint that was queried.

After further correspondence querying the anomaly and expressing the wish to escalate the matter as a complaint the manager's final email on 3 October 2017 was as follows:

:....:No decision has been made at the Information Commissioner's Office to obstruct your request being dealt with appropriately. As you have admitted yourself, you do not in fact know whether it was dealt with appropriately, back when you made it over a year ago.

You contacted us recently to suggest that it may or may not have been processed properly when it was handled by a case officer over a year ago. I have given you my view, and explained why this office will not be reopening the matter.

In the circumstances, I will not be escalating the matter as a further service complaint.

You are aware that you have the right to complain to the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman if you remain dissatisfied with the service you have received from this office. Complaints to the Ombudsman must be made through your Member of Parliament, and details of how to make a complaint to the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman can be found at: http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/make_a_compl...

I cannot guarantee an acknowledgment of any further communications from you on this matter.:....:

Information Commissioner’s Office

3 Attachments

4 December 2017

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0709390

 

Dear J Roberts,

We are now in a position to provide you with a response to your request
for information to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
 
We have dealt with your request in accordance with your ‘right to know’
under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which
entitles you to be provided with any information ‘held’ by a public
authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.

Request

On the 5 November 2017 you asked for the following information:

“1. As of today, how many FOI complaints that could potentially be
allocated a case reference number have not been allocated one.

2. Please provide information to confirm how a FOI complaint is recorded
on your computer system when received. Specify the computer fields
requiring completion.

3. Please state the job title(s) of whoever records the complaints.

4. Please provide information on the time by which a FOI complaint
received in your office should be recorded. If you monitor the time taken
to record complaints, please provide details of your most recent findings.
Monthly report, perhaps?

5. Please provide a screenshot of a blank page(s) used to record an FOI
complaint when it first arrive in your office..

6. Please provide information on the number of live complaints not yet
allocated a case reference number after: 100 days; 200days; 300 days.

7. Please provide details of the information a telephone operator
(customer services) requires from a complainant to confirm that their
complaint has been recorded in circumstances where they do not have a case
reference number.

8. Please provide a screenshot of the information that a telephone
operator can view when dealing with a query from a complainant who has no
case reference number, if different from the information requested in part
5 above.”

Response

We understand from the wider context of your request that it relates to
unallocated FOIA complaints. So for the purpose of this request the term
‘unallocated’ refers to ICO cases that have been classified as FOIA
complaints but have yet to be assigned a Case Officer who will take the
complaint forward.

It may be helpful to explain that initially we place complaint
correspondence into a ‘sift’ queue. ICO colleagues in our Customer Contact
department review these items of correspondence. When correspondence is
identified as a new FOIA complaint it is ‘classified’ as an ‘FS50’ case
reference number on our electronic casework management system. It is only
at that point it becomes reportable as an unallocated FOIA complaint on
our system.

In response to points one and six of your request, we cannot report on how
long it takes to classify sift items as FOIA complaints. We are therefore
unable to report on “how many FOI complaints that could potentially be
allocated a case reference number have not been allocated one” or “the
number of live complaints not yet allocated a case reference number after:
100 days; 200days; 300 days.” We can report on the date of the oldest item
of correspondence in our sift queue.

In response to points two and five, please find attached two example
screenshots showing fields used to record information for case types on
our system. In the ‘modify case’ screenshot, it shows a test FOI
Compliance Section 50 Complaint or FS50 with blank data fields. In the
‘case details’ screenshot it shows completed data fields
about this classified and allocated information request or IRQ made via
WDTK.

In response to point three, this is the responsibility of Case Officers,
Lead Case Officers and Senior Case Officers. 

In response to point four, we monitor our casework performance and produce
monthly reports. Please find attached the latest version of our concerns
and complaints dashboard with detailed statistics on our FOIA caseload and
performance.

In response to point seven, a call handler will perform reasonable
searches on our system to locate unclassified FOIA complaint
correspondence and confirm receipt to a caller. They would ask the caller
for information about their correspondence to assist with that. An example
search would be for an ‘email’ sent to us on ’29 November 2017’.  

In relation to point eight, please refer to our response to points two and
five. A call handler is able to view completed information about
classified cases. Their view is no different to that of the Case Officer.
Where a case has been classified but remains unallocated, the ‘user in
team’ or ‘other user’ fields on our system will remain blank until the
case has been allocated to a Case Officer.

In line with our duty to provide advice and assistance, you may find
sections 3 and 4 of the ICO Service Guide of relevance.  

ICO Service Guide

[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...

This concludes our response to your information request.

Review procedure

If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to request a review of
our decision or make a complaint about how your request has been handled
you should write to the Information Access Team at the address below or
email [2][ICO request email]

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request received
after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.
 
If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation. To make such an application, please write
to our Customer Contact Team, at the address given or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make an FOIA or Environmental
Information Regulations complaint online.

A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website [3]here.

Yours sincerely,

Aideen Oakes

Lead Information Access Officer

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF

For information requests please use: [4][ICO request email]

 

The ICO's mission is to uphold information rights in the public interest.
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J Roberts left an annotation ()

The alleged lengthy delay referred to by Mr Wilby (see above) possibly stems from a lack of resources. In a recent Upper Tribunal decision it was stated:

' 95. We acknowledge the resource difficulties of the Information Commissioner but we consider that the course adopted here of effectively permitting the other two Respondents to be the decision-maker on the challenge to their stance on the application of the absolute exemption in section 23 is unfair.'

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC/...

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