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Lengthening waiting time for cases to be allocated to a case worker.

We're waiting for M Boyce to read recent responses and update the status.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

It is now now taking many, many, many months and maybe years for complaints to now be allocated to an ICO case worker.

Could you now please provide the following information for each of last three years:

(1) How long was the average waiting time for a complainant to have their complaint allocated to a case worker in 2015, 2016, and 2017?

(2) How long were cases taking to investigate from the time of allocation to a case worker to case closure in 2015, 2016, and 2017?

(3) How many complaints were received in 2015, 2016, and 2017?

(4) How much was the ICO total budget (money it had to spend on investigations) in 2015, 2016, and 2017?

(5) How many staff did the ICO have working on complaints in 2015, 2016 and 2017?

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

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
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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
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helpline on 0303 123 1113.

 

Yours sincerely

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

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Information Commissioner’s Office

9 January 2018

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0715698

 

Dear M Boyce

Request for Information
 
Thank you for your correspondence dated 11 December 2017, in which you
have asked:
 
Could you now please provide the following information for each of last
three years: 

 1. How long was the average waiting time for a complainant to have their
complaint allocated to a case worker in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
 2. How long were cases taking to investigate from the time of allocation
to a case worker to case closure in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
 3. How many complaints were received in 2015, 2016, and 2017? 
 4.  How much was the ICO total budget (money it had to spend on
investigations) in 2015, 2016, and 2017? 
 5.  How many staff did the ICO have working on complaints in 2015, 2016
and 2017?

We have considered your request in accordance with the requirements of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. This entitles you to information held by
a public authority
 
Response
 
How long was the average waiting time for a complainant to have their
complaint allocated to a case worker in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
 
How long were cases taking to investigate from the time of allocation to a
case worker to case closure in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
 
 
I can confirm that we hold this information. However, we are unable to
provide this to you as locating and extracting this information from our
records will exceed the cost limit contained in section 12 of the FOIA.
 
As you may be aware 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.
 
Unfortunately there is no way for us to electronically retrieve this
information from our records. In order to provide you this information it
would be necessary for us to manually access each individual casework
record to find and extract the information you have requested and then
divide the time taken by the number of cases to work out a mean average.

The ICO receives a large number of complaints each year and we record
details of these in our electronic case management system. Our annual
reports indicate that there were over 65,000 cases closed in the three
financial years up to April 2017.
 
We would estimate that it would take an average of 2 minutes per case to
do this completing this task would take well in excess of 18 hours of
work.
 
I have given some consideration to how you may be able to narrow the scope
of your request to try and bring this with the section 12 FOIA cost limit.
Due to the high number of complaints that are reported to the ICO it would
be necessary in the first instance to significantly reduce the time frame
your request covers. This alone is unlikely to bring your request within
the cost limit as even a time frame of a few weeks will still encompass a
large amount of casework to be checked manually.
 
You may be aware that the ICO classifies complaints it receives by sector,
for a complaint about a hospital would be classified as belonging to the
‘Health’ sector. In addition to reducing the time frame your request
covers you could limit your request further by focusing it on a specific
sector which may, depending on the number of complaints remaining in
scope, bring your request within the cost limit. You could also limit the
requests to the legislation that the complaint is about, for example by
only including complaints about breaches of FOI.  
 
How many complaints were received in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
 
How much was the ICO total budget (money it had to spend on
investigations) in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
 
This information is calculated annually based on financial year (ending 31
March) and published in our annual reports.
 
Under section 21 of the FOIA we are not required to provide information in
response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you from
another source.  The information you have requested is available from our
website via the following link:
 
 
[1]https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/our-inf...
 
 
How many staff did the ICO have working on complaints in 2015, 2016 and
2017?
 
The number of staff working in each department fluctuates. However, to
give you an idea I have provided a figure for the staff working in each
department that handles complaints as of 31 December for each of the years
you have enquired about.
 
The structure with which we deal with complaints has changed over time
which is why there is a zero return I some columns. Prior to April 2017,
all Data Protection and Freedom of Information complaints were handled by
one department.
 
 
 

  2017 2016 2015
94
Data Protection (84.7 Full Time - -
Complaints Equivalent)
 
Freedom Of Information 62
Complaints (56.6 Full Time - -
Equivalent)
Complaints Resolution/ 135 139
Performance Improvement - (121.3 Full Time (124.1 Full Time
Equivalent) Equivalent)
59 59 57
Enforcement (57.4 Full Time (57.6 Full Time (55.5 Full Time
Equivalent) Equivalent) Equivalent)

 
Review Procedure

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 Information Access Team at the address below or
e-mail [2][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 our Customer Contact Team at the address given or visit our website if
you wish to make a complaint under either the Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations.
 
A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website
[3]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Ashley Duffy
Information Access Service Manager
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 01625 545625  F. 01625 524510  [4]ico.org.uk  [5]twitter.com/iconews
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References

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Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

I asked for this information for my benefit, the benefit of the general public, and to see if the ICO really cares about what is going on in your organisation in terms of the increasing length of time it is taking to investigate cases. If you cared about this then you would extract the information, despite the fact that it is slightly beyond the FOIA cost limit - it should be of interest and benefit to you - apparently not! You obviously are not interested in this matter, and doesn't it show?

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

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.

 

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
[2]http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...

 

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [3]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

 

References

Visible links
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2. http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...
3. http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

Robert Whittaker left an annotation ()

I would have thought that the ICO would be using an electronic case management system of some sort, and that they would log the dates when each request is received, has a case worker allocated, and is closed. I'd suggest that you check with the ICO whether this is indeed the case.

If so, it should be possible for the ICO to do a database extract with those three dates for each of the cases received in each year you've asked for. From there it would be straightforward to calculate the information you want under (1) and (2).

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Thanks for your post Robert.
I might well do what you suggest. I am not, however, hopeful that they would extract the information for one simple reason, and its not cost: the ICO is part of the establishment, and it does not want people to know what is really going on. Quangos exist to serve the establishment, not the general public. When you ask the ICO to scrutinise itself, the shutters go up faster than a bankers salary.

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