Information available to UKBA customer service representatives

B Sanders made this Freedom of Information request to UK Border Agency

The request was partially successful.

From: B Sanders

14 September 2012

Dear UK Border Agency,

This is Freedom of Information request and does not apply to a
specific application. I do not wish to receive case specific
information.

I called the UKBA Enquiry Number 0870 606 7766 and asked for a
status update on my partners FLR M application. I was told by one
of your customer service representatives that they could not access
ANY information on a case until 6 months had passed (4 months has
passed on our FLR M application + biometrics submitted). I
proffered the Case Reference Number but your representative refused
to co-operate.

I pointed out that I called 6 weeks ago to request an update and
the UKBA customer service representative successfully accessed our
case file and gave an update on the status of the application. I
received the reply “things have recently changed. Goodbye Sir”. The
phone was then disconnected by your customer service
representative.

Therefore, the questions I have under Freedom of Information are:

1. What information is accessible to your customer service
representatives on number 0870 606 7766?

2. If the answer to question 1 is “nothing until 6 months”, what
has prompted this new policy and where can this policy be found on
your website?

3. If your customer service representatives can access (albeit
limited) information, why is there a policy in place to refuse to
co-operate and provide a reasonable level of customer service?

Please answer questions 1 to 3 in full.
I look forward to your detailed reply.

Yours faithfully,

B. Sanders

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From: Freedom Of Information Team ( IND )
UK Border Agency

17 September 2012

Dear B Sanders

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act which has been logged under reference number 24240. We will respond to you shortly.

Regards,

Freedom of Information Act Policy Team

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From: Freedom Of Information Team ( IND )
UK Border Agency

11 October 2012


Attachment FOI request 24240 response.pdf
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Dear B Sanders,

Please see the attached response,

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Act Policy team

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From: B Sanders

17 October 2012

Dear Mr. Scott,

I thank you for your reply dated 11th October 2012.

It would appear from your response that UKBA’s Telephone Officers
are indeed able to access basic case file information, quote:
“I can confirm that contact centre Telephone Officers have access
to basic information such as date and type of application received
and, in some cases, the case working team it is allocated to.” This
statement was qualified by “I am able to disclose the following
information” indicating that further case information may be
available to your Telephone Officers, but you are either unwilling
or unable to disclose these facts. I am aware your Agency’s
Telephone Officers also have access to details pertaining to an
individual’s Biometric Enrolment.

Your Agency’s published guidelines clearly state: “We will decide
95% of postal applications within six months”

Keeping in mind that your Agency’s published waiting times are
somewhat vague (“within six months”) and your response indicates
that your Telephone Officers have access to basic case information
from the time that the applicant’s details are uploaded into the
system, I have the following questions:

1. Can you please confirm that your Telephone Officers have access
to basic case information from the moment the Biometric Enrolment
Letter is raised and dispatched?

2. If your Telephone Officers do indeed have access to basic case
information from the moment the Biometric Enrolment Letter is
raised and dispatched, can you please confirm that your Telephone
Officers have been instructed (either verbally or through internal
policy change) to refuse to provide any information before 6 months
have elapsed from the date of initial submission of application?

3. I am disappointed that you failed to accurately answer question
2 in my original correspondence dated 14th September 2012. Whilst I
acknowledge your somewhat vague response, quote “The decision was
therefore taken on 10th October 2011 that this service would no
longer be offered”, this does not answer my specific question,
quote “what has prompted this new policy and where can this policy
be found on your website?” Please answer this question accurately
with relevant web based references.

In light of the foregoing, it could be argued that your statement
“I would like to assure you that we have provided you with all
relevant information that the Home Office holds” is at best
inaccurate and at worst misleading. Indeed, whilst I acknowledge
there is a strict need for security of personal and sensitive data,
I find your responses to my specific questions to be vague and
somewhat unsubstantiated. You will note the penultimate sentence of
my correspondence dated 14th September which states: “I look
forward to your detailed reply”.

Whilst I am certain that you will be either unwilling or unable to
comment on the following statement, I put the following question to
you for the benefit of the general public.

In light of your Agency’s apparent backlog and corresponding
extortionate waiting times (~ 6 months) and keeping in mind that
UKBA employees are indeed “public servants” and applicants are
“paying customers” do you believe it is reasonable for your Agency
to point blank refuse to provide ANY information (albeit basic) to
your customers before 6 months have elapsed? Please bear in mind
that your backlog is not the responsibility or fault of your
“customers”.

Following a number of phone calls (one of which is outlined in my
previous correspondence) I strongly suspect that your Telephone
Officers do indeed have access to basic information on case files
from the point at which the Biometric Letter is raised and
dispatched. If this is indeed the case, I would suggest that your
Telephone Officers are misleading callers when they state “we
cannot access any information until 6 months has passed”. Instead,
may I suggest that it is more accurate for your Telephone Officers
to state “we are able to access your case access your case file but
are unwilling to do so until 6 months has elapsed”. As I am sure
you are aware, the terms “unwilling” and “cannot” carry very
different connotations.

I look forward to your detailed reply.

Yours sincerely

B. Sanders

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From: Freedom Of Information Team ( IND )
UK Border Agency

18 October 2012

Dear B Sanders

Thank you for your follow up e mail concerning the above matter. We are currently dealing with your enquiry and will respond shortly.

Kind Regards

UKBA
FOI Team

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Eton Bell left an annotation (21 October 2012)

Quote-marks Well done Sandres

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From: B Sanders

7 December 2012

Dear Freedom Of Information Team ( IND ),

I note that to date, you have failed to respond to my email dated
18th October 2012.

I look forward to your detailed response at your earliest
convienence.

Yours sincerely,

B Sanders

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From: Freedom Of Information Team ( IND )
UK Border Agency

10 December 2012


Attachment FOI request 24240 response.pdf
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We responded on the 10/12 copy attached for reference.

Regards,

FOI Team

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From: Freedom Of Information Team ( IND )
UK Border Agency

21 December 2012


Attachment 24628.pdf
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B Sanders,

Please find attached a response to your request made under the Freedom of Information Act.

Kind regards,

Ben Smith
Freedom of Information Act Policy
Senior Advisor

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