Information Tribunal

Tim Turner made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

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 Information Commissioner’s Office,

I would like to request information on whether the Information Commissioner takes action following Information Rights Tribunal decisions (Lower or Upper) which either reverse ICO FOI decisions, or which contain criticism of the ICO's approach.

Does a specific member of staff review decisions from the Tribunal to ensure that any adverse decisions or criticism of the ICO is acted upon? If so, please provide their name and job title.

For the year 2011, has any action been taken, either to change the ICO's procedures on handling its own FOI requests, or to alter its procedures as FOI regulator, as a direct consequence of the content of an Information Rights Tribunal? If so, what action was taken?

Does the ICO have a policy or procedure which covers how the office should react to Information Tribunal decisions? If so, please provide a copy of this policy.

Has any member of staff received training as a result of the outcome of an Information Rights Tribunal decision in 2011?

Yours faithfully,

Tim Turner

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

3 January 2012

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0429285

 

Dear Mr Turner

 

Thank you for your email of 25 December 2011 in which you have made a
freedom of information request to the ICO. 

 

Your request has been passed to the Internal Compliance Team, and is being
dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 under
the reference number shown above.  We will therefore respond to your
request by 26 January 2012 which is 20 working days from the day after we
received your request.

 

If you wish to add further information to your request case please reply
to this email, being careful not to amend the information in the
‘subject’ field. This will ensure that the information is added directly
to your case. However, please be aware that this is an automated process;
the information will not be read by a member of our staff until your case
is allocated to a request handler.

 

Yours sincerely

Helen Ward

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

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Information Commissioner's Office

20th January 2012

Case Reference Number IRQ0429285

Dear Mr Turner

Further to our acknowledgement of 3 January 2012 we can confirm that we
are actively dealing with your information request of 25 December 2011.

However, before we respond it would be helpful if you could clarify one
element of your request. 

In the third paragraph you have asked:

For the year 2011, has any action been taken ... (by the ICO) to alter its
procedures as FOI regulator, as a direct consequence of the content of an
Information Rights Tribunal? 

It would be helpful if you could clarify whether you are specifically
interested in any information we hold in respect of either

a)  our Operational procedures, which are followed by staff within our
Complaints Resolution Department, who are responsible for considering
complaints made to the ICO under the FOIA and where appropriate issuing
decision notices. These procedures are intended to provide a narrative
account of investigations into FOI complaints from receipt through
investigation, to closure and beyond.

or

b)  the guidance produced by our Policy Delivery Department, which is
responsible for (amongst other things) developing and explaining the ICO’s
policy position on the proper application of information rights law and
good practice.  This is achieved through lines to take, guidance, internal
training, advice and specific projects etc. 

Alternatively, if both of these categories of information fall within the
scope of this part of your request please can you confirm this.

If you can get back to us by lunchtime on Monday 23 January we will still
endeavour to provide you with a response to your request within the
original 20 working day timeframe, ie by next Thursday 26 January 2012.

We look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann      Lead Internal Compliance Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [1]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. blocked::http://www.ico.gov.uk/
http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Thanks for this.

I was thinking of both operational and policy aspects, but the operational procedures would be the priority if there was a question of whether my request was going to breach the cost limit.

Yours faithfully,

Tim Turner

Thank you for emailing the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  This
is an automatic acknowledgement to tell you we have received your email
safely.  Please do not reply to this email.

 

If your email was about a new complaint or request for advice it will be
considered by our Customer Contact Department.  One of our case officers
will be in touch as soon as possible. 

 

If your email was about an ongoing case we are dealing with it will be
allocated to the person handling your case.

 

If your email was about a case you have already submitted, but is yet to
be allocated to one of our case officers your email will be added to your
original correspondence and will be considered when your case is
allocated.

 

If you require any further assistance please contact our Helpline on 0303
123 1133 or 01625 545745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.

 

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office

 

Yours sincerely

 

ICO Customer Contact Department

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

Information Commissioner's Office

1 Attachment

26th January 2012

Case Reference Number IRQ0429285

Dear Mr Turner

Request for Information
 
Further to our acknowledgement of 3 January 2012 and the clarification
which you provided by e-mail on 20 January, we are now in a position to
provide you with a response to your request for information dated 25
December 2011.
 
As you know 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 a copy of any information ‘held’ by
a public authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.
 
Request
 
In your e-mail of 25 December you explained “I would like to request
information on whether the Information Commissioner takes action following
Information Rights Tribunal decisions (Lower or Upper) which either
reverse ICO FOI decisions, or which contain criticism of the ICO’s
approach”, and asked us to provide you with the following:
 

 1. Does a specific member of staff review decisions from the Tribunal to
ensure that any adverse decisions or criticism of the ICO is acted
upon? If so, please provide their name and job title.

 

 2. For the year 2011, has any action been taken, either to change the
ICO's procedures on handling its own FOI requests, or to alter its
procedures as FOI regulator, as a direct consequence of the content of
an Information Rights Tribunal? If so, what action was taken?

 

 3. Does the ICO have a policy or procedure which covers how the office
should react to Information Tribunal decisions? If so, please provide
a copy of this policy.

 

 4. Has any member of staff received training as a result of the outcome
of an Information Rights Tribunal decision in 2011?

 
You also provided clarification in respect of 2) above that whilst you
were primarily interested in any changes to our Operational Procedures you
were also interested to know of any changes to policies, procedures and
guidance prepared and published by our Policy Delivery Team.
 
Information Held
 
1) The Policy Delivery Team review and summarise every decision issued by
the Information Tribunal (IT). Generally this is done within approximately
2 weeks of the decision being promulgated. Usually a brief initial summary
is created by the lawyer who dealt with the appeal and is circulated to
relevant staff. A further review is then carried out by Senior Policy
Officers and a more detailed summary created. At present the Senior Policy
Officers are Rob Mechan and Carl Wiper.
 
The detailed summary highlights the Commissioner’s initial response to key
points made by the IT and identifies areas that may require further policy
work. Summaries are approved by senior staff within the Policy Delivery
Team. At present those individuals are Group Managers Lisa Adshead and Jo
Pedder, Principal Policy Advisor Ged Tracey, and the Head of Policy
Delivery Steve Wood.
 
The information provided above reflects our current process in relation to
IT decisions. However we do not hold any recorded information that
explains the current process. The only recorded information we do hold
regarding the IT summary process is dated July 2008, and relates to the
procedure which was in place before a reorganisation within the ICO in
2010.  It is titled ‘IT and Appeals Summaries Process’.  It should
therefore be noted that this is now out of date, and whilst the policy has
now changed due to the re-organisation no written policy has been created
in its place.
 
 
2) As mentioned above the Policy Delivery Team review each IT decision,
create a summary and identify areas where a change to our lines to take or
guidance may be required. When investigating a complaint and reaching a
decision the Complaints Resolution Department follows the lines to take
and the approach set out in the Commissioner’s guidance. Therefore any
changes to the lines to take and guidance as a result of an IT decision
are in effect also changes to the way in which the teams processing the
complaints operate.
 
Not all IT decisions are binding upon the Commissioner and therefore he is
not required to alter his processes or interpretation of the Freedom of
Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations as a result of
each decision. However, where the IT’s decision is binding or the
Commissioner decides it is appropriate to alter his approach as a result
of the IT’s findings, he will create or amend lines to take and/or
relevant external guidance.
 
With this in mind, we have considered the extent to which the policies and
procedures of our Internal Compliance Department, Policy Delivery Team and
Operations Division have been altered as a result of IT cases promulgated
in 2011 (cases that began in 2011 but were not decided until 2012 have not
been considered).
 
Internal Compliance
 
The policies and procedures used within the ICO’s Internal Compliance
Department are primarily administrative, and are not intended to provide
detailed or specialist advice and guidance on how the legislation itself
should be interpreted when responding to a request.  As with other public
authorities, we use the resources available via the ICO website such as
the ICO Knowledge Base and Guidance Index.
 
Many of the policies and procedures used within Internal Compliance can
also be found on our website here:
 
[1]http://www.ico.gov.uk/about_us/policies_...
 
In response to your specific request, therefore, we can confirm that no
action has been taken to change the ICO’s procedures on handling its own
FOI requests as a result of any IT decision in 2011.
 
Policy Delivery
 
We can confirm that the only guidance which we published in 2011 which
reflected decisions of the IT in 2011 relates to s36 of the FOIA, which
has been reviewed and updated.  This guidance can be accessed from our
website here:
 
[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/...
 
We have also checked through all the summaries we hold for each decision
made by the Upper and Lower Tribunal in 2011 (you may be aware these are
not available on our website).  Each summary contains an indication of
whether it is likely to have any impact on any of the ICO’s existing
guidance or Line To Take (LTT), and if so whether that guidance or LTT
needs to be re-considered or amended in light of the decision. 
 
Having carried out these checks we can confirm that in 2011 there were 18
FOI and 6 EIR decisions from the Lower Tribunal, and a further 4 decisions
from the Upper Tribunal, which have resulted in the recognition that
existing guidance or LTT’s need to be reviewed or amended to take those
decisions into account, or alternatively those decisions will be
incorporated into new guidance which is still being drafted.
 
The three tables below illustrate the current position for each:
 
Lower Tribunal - FOIA:

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|Date of |Tribunal Ref:|Appellant: |LTT/Guidance: |Actioned?|
|Decision: | | | | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|21/12/2011|EA/2011/0126 |Elaine Colville |LTT129 & LTT121|Not yet |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
| | |British Union for the|Feed into S38 | |
|11/11/2011|EA/2010/0064 |Abolition of |guidance |Not yet |
| | |Vivisection | | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|27/10/2011|EA/2010/0116 |Dr C Pounder |Feed into S11 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|18/10/2011|EA/2011/0055 |Mr C M Johnston |Feed into S41 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|13/10/2011|EA/2011/0115 |Lin Luder |Feed into S27 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|21/09/2011|EA/2011/0011 |Foreign & |Feed into S31 |Not yet |
| | |Commonwealth Office |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|20/09/2011|EA/2011/0004 |Peter Burt |Feed into S27 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|15/09/2011|EA/2011/0006 |Colleen Smith |New Schedule 3 |Still in |
| | | |DPA guidance |draft |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|02/09/2011|EA/2011/0007 |Yiannis Voyias |Feed into S31 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|26/08/2011|EA/2011/0002 |Robert Brown |Feed into S37 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|25/08/2011|EA/2011/0095 |Nick Innes |LTT154 |Not yet |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|23/08/2011|EA/2010/0151 |Stephen Gradwick |Feed into S40 |Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|16/08/2011|EA/2011/0072 |Grace Szucs |LTT235 & LTT14 |Not yet |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|30/03/2011|EA/2010/0152 |Alan Dransfield |LTT76 |Updated |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|15/03/2011|EA/2010/0173 |Tony Wise |LTT121 |Updated |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|22/02/2011|EA/2010/0095 |T W Gibson |LTT166 |Updated |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
|10/02/2011|EA/2010/0142 |Nottinghamshire |LTT80 |Not yet |
| | |County Council | | |
|----------+-------------+---------------------+---------------+---------|
| | | |Feed into new |Still in |
|18/01/2011|EA/2010/0060 |Peter Dun |guidance on PA |draft |
| | | |employees | |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 
Lower Tribunal - EIR:
 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|Date of |Tribunal Ref:|Appellant: |LTT/Guidance:|Actioned?|
|Decision: | | | | |
|----------+-------------+-----------------------+-------------+---------|
|08/11/2011|EA/2011/0052 |Matthew Sinclair |Feed into S27|Not yet |
| | | |guidance | |
|----------+-------------+-----------------------+-------------+---------|
|08/09/2011|EA/2011/0064 |David Black |LTT157 |Not yet |
|----------+-------------+-----------------------+-------------+---------|
|19/07/2011|EA/2010/0204 |William Robinson |LTT5 |Not yet |
|----------+-------------+-----------------------+-------------+---------|
|20/05/2011|EA/2010/0163 |Omagh District Council |LTT80 |Not yet |
|----------+-------------+-----------------------+-------------+---------|
|10/02/2011|EA/2010/0142 |Nottinghamshire County |LTT80 |Not yet |
| | |Council | | |
|----------+-------------+-----------------------+-------------+---------|
|04/01/2011|EA/2010/0106 |Elmbridge Borough |LTT55 |Not yet |
| | |Council | | |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 
 
Upper Tribunal:
 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|Date of |Tribunal Ref: |Appellant: |LTT/Guidance:|Actioned?|
|Decision: | | | | |
|----------+----------------+--------------------+-------------+---------|
|20/07/2011|GIA/3016/2010 |Information |LTT183 |Updated |
| | |Commissioner | | |
|----------+----------------+--------------------+-------------+---------|
|11/05/2011|GIA/194/2011 |University of |LTT85 |Not yet |
| | |Newcastle-upon-Tyne | | |
|----------+----------------+--------------------+-------------+---------|
| | |All Parliamentary | |Only |
|18/04/11 |GIA/150-152/2011|Group on |LTT21, LTT92 |LTT21 |
| | |Extraordinary |and LTT205 |updated |
| | |Rendition | | |
|----------+----------------+--------------------+-------------+---------|
| |1) GIA/1694/2010|1) DEFRA | | |
|26/01/2011|2) GIA/2098/2010|2) Information |LTT21 |Updated |
| | |Commissioner | | |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 
 
All LTT’s and related guidance are already available on the ICO website
within the ICO Knowledge Base, so can be accessed here should you wish to
check them further:
 
[3]http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/...
 
Should you wish us to provide you with copies of any of the summaries
which we have referred to above, or any other tribunal decisions which we
will have summarised, please do let us know.
 
Operations (including Complaints Resolution)
 
The general position is that IT decisions which require any amendment to
the way in which case officers within our Operations Division should
approach cases in the future are communicated through regular updates from
our Policy Delivery Team.  Therefore, although there are no formal written
procedures on how IT decisions should be taken into account, it is the
case that these decisions are taken into account when handling complaint
cases.
 
As with Internal Compliance, therefore, the only changes which have been
made to Operational Procedures in 2011 are of an administrative nature,
and have been as a result of reviewing efficiency of our operational
activity.  No amendments have been made as a direct result of any decision
made by the IT.
 
 
3) The ICO does not have a policy or procedure which covers how the office
should react to IT decisions other than the Guide to the English Legal
System. This is guidance available to staff and the public on our website.
It provides general advice about the English Legal System and the nature
of decisions of various courts, including Tribunals. Pages 9 to 11 refer
specifically to the Information Tribunal.
 
[4]http://www.ico.gov.uk/foikb/Legal%20brie...
 
 
4) In terms of general training which is offered to ICO staff, internal
training materials regarding the Freedom of Information Act and the
Environmental Information Regulations are created by the Policy Delivery
Team in conjunction with other departments. The team is still in the
process of creating these materials in relation to many areas of the
legislation. The materials are based upon the lines to take, the
Commissioner’s guidance and examples taken from completed cases. Therefore
some of the completed materials inevitably reflect changes to our approach
taken as a result of IT decisions in 2011. 
 
In terms of specific training given to individual members of staff as a
direct result of an outcome of an IT decision in 2011, for example if the
IT had made particular observations or comments about a case or issue
which that member of staff worked on, then we can confirm that having
checked with the relevant departments no member of staff has received such
training.  It is worth mentioning that all decision notices drafted by
case officers within Complaints Resolution are checked and signed off by a
senior member of staff, so no one individual member of staff is personally
responsible or accountable for the content of a decision notice.
 
Review Procedure
 
I hope this provides you with the information you require.  However, 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 Internal Compliance Department at the address
below or e-mail [5][email address]
 
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 First Contact Team, at the address given 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 can be accessed from our website [6]here .
 
Yours sincerely
 
Antonia Swann
Lead Internal Compliance Officer
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Tel: 01625 545894
[7]www.ico.gov.uk
 
 

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.gov.uk

References

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