Manchester City Council Complaints

Francis Goilla 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 ascertain the following information that you may hold on Manchester City Council please?

1. Are Manchester City Council still on an ICO watch with reference to their performance on Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests?

2. Could you please provide any communications between the ICO and Manchester City Council in the last three years with reference to their performance in these areas?

3. How many complaints have you received about Manchester City Council in the last three years with regards to their performance/adherence to the FOI and DPA?

Yours faithfully,

Francis Goilla

Information Commissioner's Office

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9th September 2013

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0511981

 

Dear Mr Goilla

Request for Information
 
Thank you for your e-mail of 2 September 2013, in which you have asked us
to provide you with various items of information relating to Manchester
City Council.
 
Your request has been passed to the ICO’s Information Governance
Department, 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 promptly, and no later than 30
September 2013, which is 20 working days from the day after we received
your request.
 
Should you wish to reply to this e-mail please be careful not to amend the
information in the ‘subject’ field. This will ensure that your reply 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
 
Antonia Swann      Lead Information Governance Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [1]www.ico.gov.uk
 
 
 

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

References

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Information Commissioner's Office

3 Attachments

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30th September 2013

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0511981

 

Dear Mr Goilla

Request for Information
 
Further to our acknowledgement of 9 September 2013 we are now in a
position to provide you with a response to your request for information
dated 2 September 2013.
 
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 2 September you asked us to provide you with the
following information:
 
“I would like to ascertain the following information that you may hold on
Manchester City Council please?

1. Are Manchester City Council still on an ICO watch with reference to
their performance on Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests?

2. Could you please provide any communications between the ICO and
Manchester City Council in the last three years with reference to their
performance in these areas?

3. How many complaints have you received about Manchester City Council in
the last three years with regards to their performance/adherence to the
FOI and DPA?”
 
Information Held
 
Our responses are as follows:

1. Are Manchester City Council still on an ICO watch with reference to
their performance on Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests?

As confirmed on our website [1]here, we have carried out a monitoring
exercise of the Council’s timeliness for responding to requests for
information under both the FOIA and the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 (the EIR).  This monitoring focussed on the Council’s
performance in this area for the period from 1 April 2013 to 30 June 2013,
and the Council provided the ICO with the results of their compliance
after the monitoring period had ended.  The ICO is considering the results
of the Council’s submissions, and our correspondence with them continues.

We can also confirm that we do have a separate DP monitoring scheme in
place to monitor the timeliness of responses by data controllers to
subject access requests.  However, as Manchester City Council do not
appear on this list they have not been subject to a separate DP monitoring
exercise.
 
2. Could you please provide any communications between the ICO and
Manchester City Council in the last three years with reference to their
performance in these areas?

Please find attached ‘ENF0493819 - Appendix 1’ and ‘ENF0493819 – Appendix
2 – Redacted’. 
 
Appendix 1 contains copies of our opening correspondence to the Council
dated 17 April 2013.  This includes our covering e-mail, introductory
letter explaining the reasons for and purpose of the monitoring, a general
guide to how the ICO selects public authorities for monitoring and the
blank spreadsheet which we asked the Council to complete in order to make
their submissions to the ICO.  None of this correspondence has been
withheld or redacted in any way.
 
Appendix 2 contains our following correspondence with the Council, which
relates to the ongoing monitoring exercise carried out by the Council,
their final submissions and further correspondence from the ICO.  However,
as you will see from Appendix 2 we have chosen to withhold some of this
correspondence.  There are specific reasons for this which I shall explain
below, but in short as we have not yet concluded this matter, and our
FOIA/EIR monitoring case remains open, we are unable to provide you with
copies of all the correspondence between the ICO and the Council as
requested.   

Firstly, the actual submissions which the Council sent to the ICO in three
instalments on 27 June 2013 (x2) and 23 August 2013 (x1) are all being
withheld in reliance on the exemption at section 44(1) of the FOIA, which
states:
 
“Information is exempt information if its disclosure (otherwise than under
this Act) by the public authority holding it –
 

 1. is prohibited by or under any enactment,
 2. is incompatible with any community obligation, or
 3. would constitute or be punishable as a contempt of court.”

 
Sub paragraph (a) is applicable to the ICO in this instance as the
enactment in question is the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and
specifically Section 59 of the DPA. Section 59 states that neither the
Commissioner nor his staff shall disclose:
 
“any information which:
 

 1. has been obtained by, or furnished to, the Commissioner under or for
the purposes of the information Acts.
 2. relates to an identified or identifiable individual business, and
 3. is not at the time of disclosure, and has not been available to the
public from other sources,

unless the disclosure is made with lawful authority.”
 
The three submissions were provided by the Council to the ICO in
confidence, and for the sole purpose of allowing us to consider their
‘time for compliance’ performance under the FOIA and the EIR. 
 
The provision at s59 DPA imposes a criminal liability on the Information
Commissioner and his staff for any disclosure of information, without
lawful authority, which falls within the s59 DPA provisions listed above. 
As we do not have lawful authority to disclose a copy of these submissions
it is for this reason that the exemption at s44 FOIA is engaged, and we
are unable to provide you with a copy.
 
Secondly, some extracts of the remaining correspondence between the ICO
and the Council as detailed in Appendix 2, including the list of cases
referred to in the ICO’s e-mail of 25 April 2013, is also being withheld
in reliance on the exemption at section 31(g) of the FOIA, by virtue of
the conditions at sections 31(2)(a) and (c) of the FOIA. 
 
The exemption at section 31(1)(g) of the FOIA refers to circumstances
where the disclosure of information “would, or would be likely to,
prejudice – … the exercise by any public authority of its functions for
any of the purposes specified in subsection (2).” 
 
The purposes referred to in sections 31(2)(a) and (c) are –
 
“(a) the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply
with the law” and
 “(c) the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would
justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise
…”     
 
Clearly, these purposes apply when the Information Commissioner is
considering whether or not a public authority has properly responded to a
request made under the FOIA and/or the .
 
However, this exemption is not absolute. When considering whether to apply
it in response to a request for information, there is a ‘public interest
test’. That is, we must consider whether the public interest favours
withholding or disclosing the information.   
 
In this case the public interest factors in disclosing the letter are – 
 

* increased transparency in the way in which Manchester City Council has
responded to the ICO’s monitoring;
* increased transparency in the state of the Council’s compliance with
the statutory and advisory timescales for response under FOIA;
* increased transparency in the way in which the ICO conducts its
investigations.

 The factors in withholding the submissions are –
 
 

* the public interest in maintaining public authorities’ trust and
confidence that their replies to the ICO’s enquiries will be afforded
an appropriate level of confidentiality while investigations and
monitoring are continuing;
* the public interest in public authorities being open and honest in
their correspondence with the ICO about the way they have handled FOI
requests, without fear that their responses will be made public
prematurely (or, as appropriate, at all);
* the public interest in maintaining the ICO’s ability to conduct an
investigation into FOI/EIR compliance as it thinks fit, without undue
external influence.

Having considered all of these factors we have taken the decision that the
public interest in withholding this information outweighs the public
interest in disclosing it. It is for this reason, and in reliance on the
exemption at s31 FOIA, that we are unable to provide you with all the
correspondence and attachments between the ICO and the Council, as you
requested.
 
We consider that the public interest in permitting the ICO and the public
authority a ‘safe space’ in which to undertake regulatory action,
outweighs the public interest in transparency, because the public interest
in transparency can be met at a later date, once the matter has been
concluded. To disclose information while the process is still ongoing
would be to risk undue external interference, pressure, comment or other
influence to the process. This could inhibit the free flow of information,
or could make other public authorities, subject to monitoring in future,
more guarded in the extent of their co-operation with the ICO’s
monitoring.  Therefore, we believe the public interest favours
non-disclosure whilst the investigation is still ongoing, no firm
conclusions have yet been reached and the regulatory process has not yet
concluded.

Thirdly, you will also see that the name and contact details of non-ICO
staff have been removed in order to protect their identities.  This
personal information is exempt from disclosure to you under section 40(2)
of the FOIA which, by virtue of section 40(3)(a)(i), allows a public
authority to withhold information from a response to a request under the
FOIA when the information requested is personal data relating to someone
other than the requestor, and its disclosure would contravene one of the
Data Protection principles.
 
We consider that none of the individuals referred to in this
correspondence would anticipate or expect their details to be disclosed to
anyone outside the ICO.  Therefore, we consider that such a disclosure
would be unfair and in breach of the first Data Protection principle which
states that – “Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully …”. 
It is for this reason that we have taken the decision to withhold this
information from you in reliance of section 40(2) of the FOIA.

3. How many complaints have you received about Manchester City Council in
the last three years with regards to their performance/adherence to the
FOI and DPA?”

Please see the attached table of information, which is being provided in a
re-usable format (ie a .csv file) as required by the recent amendments to
the FOIA, which includes details of all complaints made to the ICO about
the Council since June 2010.  These details include the relevant
legislation the complaint is about, the nature of complaint where it
relates to the DPA, the nature of technical breaches raised under the FOI
and EIR, and outcomes.  This table should therefore provide you with all
the information you need to assess the number, nature and outcome of
complaints made to the ICO about the Council.
 
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 Information Governance Department at the address
below or e-mail [2][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 [3]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Antonia Swann      Lead Information Governance Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [4]www.ico.org.uk
 
 
 
 

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

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Dear Information Commissioner’s Office, Laura Tomkinson

If I may say your response is very disappointing as you have not furnished me with the majority of information that I requested.

I have read your reasons for this and comment on them further shortly.

Manchester City Council were on ICO watch between 1st April and 30th June 2013, which is now 3 months ago.

You have therefore carried out your monitoring exercise. Manchester City Council appears from the copies of emails that you supplied to have asked you on the 8th September 2013 whether you had an update for them on their performance and whether you have decided to close the case? Did you respond to those questions if so what was your response?

If you have not closed the case due to continuing communications can you say if it is normal for the ICO not to have concluded an exercise after 3 months of monitoring being concluded.

Moving back now to the exemptions you have employed, can you say at what point in time these documents that I have requested that you have currently determined are exempted due to ongoing investigations are going to made available to me?

The spreadsheet that you have supplied is very limiting in scope and sheds little meaningful light in my view on the 99 complaints that you have received regarding Manchester City Councils FOI performance.

Lastly, may I draw your attention to my other request on this website to Manchester City Council and how they have dealt with it?
@ https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

Yours faithfully,

Francis Goilla

casework, Information Commissioner's Office

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 you have sent us a complaint we
may need specific information from you before we are able to consider it. 
You can find out the type of information we would need from the
[1]complaints section of our website. 

 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. Please note that further correspondence may not be viewed until
your case is allocated to a case officer.

 If you require any further assistance please contact our Helpline on
0303 123  1113 or [2]01625 545745 if you prefer to use a national rate
number.

 We will not respond to correspondence where the ICO is copied in. If
you have a matter you would like to discuss with us please call our
Helpline on the number above.

         Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner's Office

 ICO Customer Contact Department

 

Making a request for information held by the ICO?

For more information about the ICO’s handling of requests for information
please visit our [3]Information about us section of our website.

Equality and Diversity

The Information Commissioner’s Office is committed to providing equality
for all and opposes all forms of unlawful or unfair discrimination. We
have produced a questionnaire to help us to produce a profile of our
customers. The questionnaire can be found on our [4]Equality and Diversity
webpage.

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our quarterly newsletter can be found at
[5]Information Commissioner's Office enewsletter.

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [6]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

 

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

References

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Information Commissioner's Office

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14th October 2013

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0511981

 

Dear Mr Goilla

Thank you for your e-mail of 30 September 2013.  You have made a number of
points and raised some queries which are addressed below.
 
 

 1. You have asked whether or not the ICO had responded to the Council’s
last e-mail which you believed to be sent on 8 September 2013, but is
actually dated 3 September, in which they asked us to provide them
with an update on the case. 

 
We did respond to this e-mail on 4 September.  As you will appreciate both
of these e-mails did not exist at the time you submitted your FOI request
to the ICO on 2 September, so technically they fall outside the scope of
your request.  However, as they were both held by the time we came to
process your request we decided to consider them for disclosure to you on
a discretionary basis.  Although we chose to provide you with a redacted
copy of the Council’s e-mail of 3 September, we decided that our entire
response of 4 September was subject to the provisions contained within the
exemption at s31(1)(g) of the FOIA.
 
 

 2. You have also asked if it’s normal practice for the ICO not to have
concluded an exercise after the required 3 months of monitoring has
been concluded. 

 
As you know the Council submitted their final monitoring results to the
ICO on 23 August 2013, and when you submitted your request to the ICO only
10 days later we were still considering the results of that monitoring
exercise.  The time it takes to conclude a case once the final submissions
by the relevant public authority have been made will depend on the
circumstances of that particular case, and whether or not the results of
the monitoring exercise raise any further concerns and queries which the
ICO need to pursue further.
 
 

 3. Further to the exemptions we’ve relied on to withhold some of the
information you asked for, you’ve also asked if we can advise at what
point in time these documents will be made available to you.

 
Unfortunately at this stage it is not possible to say when, and indeed if
at all, the withheld information will be disclosable under the FOIA. 
 
By way of an update the case itself remains open as the monitoring
exercise carried out by the Council has raised further queries which we
are still pursuing.  Even once these enquiries are complete, and the case
is eventually closed, it will almost certainly be the case that the
personal data we have redacted in reliance on the exemption at s40(2) will
always be withheld in response to any request you or anyone else might
make for this same correspondence.  However, should you wish to make a
further request for the remaining information which has to date been
withheld from you, or any new correspondence exchanged since your last
request, we will of course re-consider any exemptions which may or may not
be applicable at that time.
 
 

 4. You have suggested that the spreadhseet we have provided is limited in
scope and doesn’t provide enough information about the 99 complaints
we had received at that time about the Council.

 
In response we would remind you that your request asked “How many
complaints have you received about Manchester City Council in the last
three years with regards to their performance/adherence to the FOI and
DPA?”.  The answer to this question is 99 (37 DPA complaints and 57 FOI
complaints, as well as 5 about the Environmental Information Regulations
2004), as demonstrated by the table we provided.  Therefore, all the other
information contained within this table, such as the nature and outcomes
of these complaints, was provided on a discretionary basis given that you
did not specifically ask for it.  However, if you do want further
information about the complaints listed in this table please let us know,
specifying the information you do want, and we will consider this as a new
request under the FOIA.
 
I hope this is helpful.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Antonia Swann      Lead Information Governance Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [1]www.ico.org.uk
 
 

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

References

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Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Can you please provide any further update to my original enquiry of 30th September 2013, as it is now nine months since your three month watch of Manchester City Council concluded?

Yours faithfully,

Francis Goilla

casework, Information Commissioner's Office

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 you have sent us a complaint we
may need specific information from you before we are able to consider it. 
You can find out the type of information we would need from the
[1]complaints section of our website. 

 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. Please note that further correspondence may not be viewed until
your case is allocated to a case officer.

 If you require any further assistance please contact our Helpline on
0303 123  1113 or [2]01625 545745 if you prefer to use a national rate
number.

 We will not respond to correspondence where the ICO is copied in. If
you have a matter you would like to discuss with us please call our
Helpline on the number above.

         Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner's Office

 ICO Customer Contact Department

 

Making a request for information held by the ICO?

For more information about the ICO’s handling of requests for information
please visit our [3]Information about us section of our website.

Equality and Diversity

The Information Commissioner’s Office is committed to providing equality
for all and opposes all forms of unlawful or unfair discrimination. We
have produced a questionnaire to help us to produce a profile of our
customers. The questionnaire can be found on our [4]Equality and Diversity
webpage.

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our quarterly newsletter can be found at
[5]Information Commissioner's Office enewsletter.

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [6]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

 

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.org.uk

References

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Information Commissioner's Office

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30th January 2014

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0511981

 

Dear Mr Goilla

 
Thank you for your e-mail of 24 January 2014, in which you’ve asked for “…
any further update to my original enquiry of 30 September 2013 …”.
 
As you will recall I dealt with your original request for information
dated 2 September, in which you asked us to provide you with various items
of information relating to our monitoring of Manchester City Council.  I
also answered your queries which arose from our response to that request
in my e-mail to you of 14 October.
 
We can confirm that we closed our file relating to the monitoring of the
Council in late October 2013, after we had completed our analysis of the
results of the monitoring exercise which took place in April, May and June
2013. 
 
The ICO recently issued a press release (available on our website [1]here)
which confirms that as a result of the monitoring exercise the Council did
make satisfactory improvements to the timeliness of their FOI responses,
and because of this we did not think that further monitoring was
necessary.
 
Specifically, the Council achieved a total compliance rate in excess of
85%, and also achieved a significant reduction in outstanding and overdue
requests.  As these are two of the indicators of ‘sufficient improvement’
referenced in the ICO Standard Operating Procedure for FOIA and EIR
monitoring of authorities timeliness, this is why we were satisfied that
further monitoring was not necessary.
 
I hope this is helpful.  However, if you wish to make another information
request for any recorded information we hold about this monitoring
exercise, then please can you confirm precisely what information it is you
would like us to provide.
  
Yours sincerely
 
Antonia Swann      Lead Information Governance Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.

T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [2]www.ico.org.uk

 
 
 
 
 

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

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