How many Public bodies are failing to observe the 20 day rule in response to FoI requests

The request was refused by Information Commissioner's Office.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Could you please tell me:

1. How many Public bodies are failing to observe the statutory time limits rule in response to Freedom of Information requests made to them in 2018?

2. The identity of those Public Bodies?

3. The action the ICO is or will be taking to address those who breach the statutory time limits?

Yours faithfully,

John Peters

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
you as soon as possible if we need any further information to enable us to
answer your request. If we don't need any further information we will
respond to you within our published, and statutory, service levels. For
more information please visit [1]http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

If you are concerned about the way an organisation is handling your
personal information, we will not usually look into it unless you have
raised it with the organisation first. For more information please see our
webpage ‘raising a concern with an organisation’ (go to our homepage and
follow the link ‘for the public’). You can also call the number below.

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days. 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

For more information about our services, please see our webpage ‘Service
standards and what to expect' (go to our homepage and follow the links for
‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to expect'). You can
also call the number below.

For information about what we do with personal data see our [2]privacy
notice.

If there is anything you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Yours sincerely

The Information Commissioner’s Office

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Information Commissioner's Office

25 October 2018

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0795384

 

Dear Mr Peters

Further to our acknowledgement of your information request which we sent
on 18 October; we are now in a position to respond to this request.
 
We have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA).
 
Your request
 
In your email you asked us:
 
“1. How many Public bodies are failing to observe the statutory time
limits rule in response to Freedom of Information requests made to them in
2018? 2. The identity of those Public Bodies? 3. The action the ICO is or
will be taking to address those who breach the statutory time limits?.”
 
Our response
 
Information not held 
 
I can confirm that we do not hold information on how many public
authorities are failing to respond to FOI requests within the statutory
timeframe, the identities of the non-compliant public authorities nor any
action taken in response. Unless potential non-compliance is referred to
us under section 50 of the FOIA, we would not be aware of it.
 
Advice and Assistance
 
We can tell you the number of complaints we have received regarding
non-compliance with section 10 (time for compliance) brought to the ICO
under section 50 of the FOIA.
 
Since 1 January 2018, the ICO has received 1,266 FS50 complaints about
public authorities failing to respond to FOI requests on time. Of those,
69 were resolved by a decision notice which upheld the complaint; 2 were
resolved by decision notice which did not uphold the complaint; and 10
went to decision notice which partially upheld the complaint. 64 cases are
still being assessed.
 
Most of the remaining cases are likely to have been resolved informally,
such as if the authority has agreed to respond to the request and the
complaint withdrawn.
 
However, in order to discover whether these informally resolved cases
involved a breach of the FOIA 2000, it would be necessary to open each of
the 1,121 cases and read the case documents. This is because the ‘case
outcomes’ as recorded by our case management system, and found in an
automated search, do not specify the breach outcome unless a decision
notice was served.
 
Such a search is likely to trigger the cost of compliance limit as laid
out in section 12 of the FOIA.
 
 
I can tell you that we routinely publish our casework information as part
of our [1]complaints and concerns datasets, which currently go up to
October 2017 but will be updated in due course. This information includes
the identity of the public authority.
 
You can find out more about how the ICO regulates the Freedom of
Information Act and what action it takes to improve compliance in our
[2]regulatory action policy.
 
The Cabinet Office publishes [3]Freedom of Information Statistics on its
website which you may find interesting. The figures it collects relate to
Central Government departments.  

This concludes our response. We hope you find this information useful.
 
                        
Next steps
 
If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received and wish to
request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how your
request has been handled you should write to the Information Access team
at the address below or email [4][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 the Customer Contact department, at the address below or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.
 
A copy of our review procedure is available [5]here.
 
For information about what we do with personal data see our [6]privacy
notice.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 

Frederick Aspbury
Lead Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 0330 414 6397 F. 01625 524510  [7]ico.org.uk  [8]twitter.com/iconews
Please consider the environment before printing this email
For information about what we do with personal data see our [9]privacy
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References

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Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of the Information Commissioner’s Office's handling of my FOI request 'How many Public bodies are failing to observe the 20-day rule in response to FoI requests'.

I am concerned your response is not accurate.

I know of one Public Body, namely, Surrey Police who routinely fail to adhere to the 20-day statutory requirement,

They also claim via numerous online FOI request responses the following:

"We are liaising with the Information Commissioner for a way forward on this issue...."

An example of the use of such a claim by Surrey Police are in the following online FOI requests to assist you:

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

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

Therefore if Surrey Police are telling the truth then they are publicly admitting they have informed yourselves of their continual breaches yet you claim no knowledge.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Peters

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
you as soon as possible if we need any further information to enable us to
answer your request. If we don't need any further information we will
respond to you within our published, and statutory, service levels. For
more information please visit [1]http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

If you are concerned about the way an organisation is handling your
personal information, we will not usually look into it unless you have
raised it with the organisation first. For more information please see our
webpage ‘raising a concern with an organisation’ (go to our homepage and
follow the link ‘for the public’). You can also call the number below.

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days. 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

For more information about our services, please see our webpage ‘Service
standards and what to expect' (go to our homepage and follow the links for
‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to expect'). You can
also call the number below.

For information about what we do with personal data see our [2]privacy
notice.

If there is anything you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Yours sincerely

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter can be found at
[3]http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [4]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

 

References

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2. https://ico.org.uk/global/privacy-notice/
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4. http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

Information Commissioner's Office

28 November 2018

 

Case Reference Number RCC0797494

 

Dear Mr Peters

Review of response to information request
 
I write further to your email of 29 October in which you requested an
internal review of the handling of your request which was dealt with under
the reference number IRQ0795384.
 
My name is Danny Langley and I am an Information Access Service Manager. I
have reviewed the way we handled your request for information. I can
confirm that I have had no prior involvement in the handling of this
request.
 
In summary, I can confirm that I consider that we have dealt with your
request appropriately and provided advice as to how you might find
information of interest.
 
I have expanded on my decision in more detail below should this be of
interest.
 
Request and response
 
Your request for an internal review concerns the handling of your request
of 18 October. You had asked for the following:
 
“1. How many Public bodies are failing to observe the statutory time
limits rule in response to Freedom of Information requests made to them in
2018?
 
2. The identity of those Public Bodies?
 
3. The action the ICO is or will be taking to address those who breach the
statutory time limits?”
 
In our response of 25 October Frederick Aspbury explained that we do not
hold information regarding the wide scope at point 1 of your request and
so could not provide responses to points 2 and 3. He explained that this
was because unless a complaint was made to the ICO regarding a response
being late, we would not automatically be aware of it.
 
Mr Aspbury thereafter provided you with the number of complaints that the
ICO had received in 2018 regarding failures to respond to freedom of
information requests on time (breaches of section 10 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000). He provided you some figures regarding the number
that had been concluded with a Decision Notice, and how many were still
being assessed. He also provide a link to the data sets that we publish
regarding the complaints we receive, as these list the public authorities
we receive complaints about and the outcome of each complaint.
 
Review
 
I have reviewed Mr Aspbury’s handling of your request but can confirm that
his response and the advice and assistance he provided were appropriate.
 
In your email of 29 October you have said:
 
“I am concerned your response is not accurate. I know of one Public Body,
namely, Surrey Police who routinely fail to adhere to the 20-day statutory
requirement, They also claim via numerous online FOI request responses the
following: "We are liaising with the Information Commissioner for a way
forward on this issue...." An example of the use of such a claim by Surrey
Police are in the following online FOI requests to assist you [links].
 
Therefore if Surrey Police are telling the truth then they are publicly
admitting they have informed yourselves of their continual breaches yet
you claim no knowledge.”
 
Please note that our response makes no such claim. Your request sought the
entire number and identity of every public authority that had failed to
observe the statutory time limits rule in 2018.
 
Mr Aspbury pointed out that we do not hold that information, as a whole,
and was correct to do so. We do not require every public authority to
report to us every instance of a late response and so could not answer
your request as framed.
 
We do hold information on timeliness compliance, but only in relation to
either the public authorities we are specifically monitoring for this, or
in regard to the complaints we have received.
 
Indeed, Mr Aspbury provided you with the number of complaints that had
been made to us this year regarding the failure to observe the time limit
described at section 10 of the FOIA.
 
He also explained that through our data sets you could find the names of
the public authorities that these complaints were made about as per part 2
of your request, and what the conclusion of each case was as per part 3.
 
This includes complaints regarding Surrey Police, as you will see by
filtering column ‘C’ (legislation) by ‘FOI’ and column ‘N’ (Submitted
about party) to ‘Surrey Police’. You can then filter column ‘K’ (FOI
Technical breach) to ‘S10’ for complaints relating to breaches of the
section 10 requirement to respond to a request within 20 working days.
 
As a result I do not uphold your challenge and consider that the response
was an appropriate one. I have reproduced the link to the data sets at the
foot of this response.
 
I appreciate this may be disappointing but I hope this explanation is a
helpful one. Further data sets regarding the complaints we have handled
subsequent to October 2017 will be placed on the ICO website in the coming
weeks.
 
Should you have an interest in specific public authorities and their
compliance with the FOIA you are entitled to make a further, specific
request and if the information is held we can provide this to you unless
an appropriate exemption applies.
 
You may also find information regarding our monitoring of public
authorities for timeliness compliance of interest. The dedicated page on
our website, to which I have also linked below, provides information on
how we select authorities for monitoring and which authorities were
selected. You will see for example that Surrey Police was selected for
timeliness monitoring in 2011.
 
Thank you again for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. This
concludes our response to the internal review of our response to your
request.
 
Complaint procedure
 
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of this review you can make a
formal complaint with the ICO in its capacity as the regulator of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Please follow the link below to submit
your complaint:

[1]https://ico.org.uk/concerns/

Yours sincerely 
 
 

Danny Langley
Information Access Service Manager
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 0330 414 6784  F. 01625 524510  [2]ico.org.uk  [3]twitter.com/iconews
For information about what we do with personal data see our [4]privacy
notice.
Please consider the environment before printing this email

 
 
[5]https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/our-inf...
 
 
[6]https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/mon...
 

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