Length of time for ICO to process complaints, and size of complaint backlog at ICO

The request was successful.

Dear Information Commissioner's Office,

1. How long does it take on average for the ICO to process complaints to completion?

2. How long does it take on average for the ICO to allocate a case officer to a complaint?

3. How many cases are currently outstanding?

4. What is the size of the backlog and how long will it take to clear?

5. Is there a statutory timeframe for ICO to process complaints, and if so, what is it?

Yours faithfully,

Claire Simmons

Information Access Inbox, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
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Yours sincerely

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References

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Information Commissioner's Office

28 June 2019

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0847993

 

Dear C Simmons

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). We
received your information request on 3 June 2019.
 
 
Your request
 
You asked us for the following: “1. How long does it take on average for
the ICO to process complaints to completion?
2. How long does it take on average for the ICO to allocate a case officer
to a complaint?
3. How many cases are currently outstanding?
4. What is the size of the backlog and how long will it take to clear? 5.
Is there a statutory timeframe for ICO to process complaints, and if so,
what is it?”
 
We have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA).
 
Our response 
 
I can confirm that, whilst the ICO does hold information within scope of
your request, extracting it, in order to answer the second part of your
request, would exceed the cost limits of section 12 of the FOIA.
 
You may be aware that section 12 of the FOIA makes clear that a public
authority (such as the ICO) is not obliged to comply with an FOIA request
if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request
would exceed the ‘appropriate limit'.  The ‘appropriate limit’ for the
ICO, as determined in the ‘Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004’ is £450.  We have
determined that £450 would equate to 18 hours work.  Given that the search
I have outlined under point 2 would take well in excess of 18 hours, it is
for this reason, and in accordance with section 12 of the FOIA, that we
are not obliged to comply with your request for information.
 
I will explain why our response would exceed this limit in reply to
question 2, but I have attempted to answer your other questions as best I
can as part of advice and assistance and on a discretionary basis.
 
 
 

 1. I can tell you that the time average time taken in days to complete
items of complaints casework - from when we receive them on our
casework system - to closure for data protection and freedom of
information (including environmental information is as follows:

 
 

DP FOI
68 77

 
 

 2.  Having checked our electronic case management system, which records
all complaints submitted to the ICO, over the last two years, we have
received over 65,000 requests for assessment under data protection
legislation alone.

 
In order to establish an average time from reception to allocation, it
would be necessary to individually check each and every one of these
cases.  Therefore, even assuming that each search of each of these 65,000
cases would take as little as 2 minutes to complete this would equate to
over 2000 hours’ worth of searching. We would then have to start on the
FOI and EIR complaints in order to fully respond to your request.
 
The numbers here are so vast, that a narrowing of scope sufficient to
bring a response within the limits of section 12 would almost certainly be
unrepresentative and unhelpful. It is our view that the figures quoted in
our answer to question 1 are the closets we can come to the result you are
looking for.
 
 
 

 3. As of the date of your request we have records of the following open
items of casework under data protection, freedom of information and
environmental information legislation:

 
 
 

+----------------------------------------------------+
| |DP |FOI/EIR|
|---------------------------------------+----+-------|
|Total open cases sitting in our systems|7071|1274 |
+----------------------------------------------------+

 
 

 4. We are currently advising that it may take up to three months for
cases to be assigned to a case officer.

 
 

 5. Our [1]service standards state that we aim to reach an outcome in 90%
of cases within six months. The Data Protection Act 2018 contains the
following section:

 
166         Orders to progress complaints
 
(1)This section applies where, after a data subject makes a complaint
under section 165 or Article 77 of the GDPR, the Commissioner—
 
(a)fails to take appropriate steps to respond to the complaint,
 
(b)fails to provide the complainant with information about progress on the
complaint, or of the outcome of the complaint, before the end of the
period of 3 months beginning when the Commissioner received the complaint,
or
 
(c)if the Commissioner’s consideration of the complaint is not concluded
during that period, fails to provide the complainant with such information
during a subsequent period of 3 months.
 
(2)The Tribunal may, on an application by the data subject, make an order
requiring the Commissioner—
 
(a)to take appropriate steps to respond to the complaint, or
 
(b)to inform the complainant of progress on the complaint, or of the
outcome of the complaint, within a period specified in the order.
 
(3)An order under subsection (2)(a) may require the Commissioner—
 
(a)to take steps specified in the order;
 
(b)to conclude an investigation, or take a specified step, within a period
specified in the order.
 
(4)Section 165(5) applies for the purposes of subsections (1)(a) and
(2)(a) as it applies for the purposes of section 165(4)(a).
 
This in effect allows access for the complainant for a judicial remedy if
the Commissioner fails to provide the complainant with information about
progress on the complaint, or, of the outcome of the complaint in a
specified timeframe totalling 6 months. Details on how to contact the
Tribunal can be found here:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/guidance/information-...
 
This concludes our response.
 
I hope you find this information helpful.
 
                        
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 [3][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 [4]here.
 
For information about what we do with personal data see our [5]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  [6]ico.org.uk  [7]twitter.com/iconews
Please consider the environment before printing this email
For information about what we do with personal data see our [8]privacy
notice

 
 

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/our-inf...
2. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/information-...
3. mailto:[ICO request email]
4. https://ico.org.uk/media/1883/ico-review...
5. https://ico.org.uk/global/privacy-notice/
6. http://ico.org.uk/
7. https://twitter.com/iconews
8. https://ico.org.uk/global/privacy-notice/

Jake Harris left an annotation ()

They're saying they don't already hold that information and they'd need to create it? Hard to believe. How do they manage their workload?

Tim Turner left an annotation ()

They don't.