Information available to UKBA customer service representatives
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.
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.
Freedom of Information Act Policy Team
Dear B Sanders,
Please see the attached response,
Freedom of Information Act Policy team
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.
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.
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.
We responded on the 10/12 copy attached for reference.
Please find attached a response to your request made under the Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom of Information Act Policy