Numbers of complaints to ICO

David Myles made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner’s Office

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The request was partially successful.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Please send me this information about your monitoring and numbers of complaints made to you about public authorities in 2013 up to today's date.

For each month:

1. The number of complaints about FOI responses issued by public authorities and how many complaints were made against each public authority.

2. The number of complaints about delays to FOI responses and how many complaints were made against each public authority.

3. The number of complaints about public authorities responses to subject access requests under Data Protection Act. Please show how many complaints were made against each public authority.

4 The number of complaints about delays to subject access responses. Please show how many complaints were made against each public authority.

5.On your 'monitoring compliance' page you say "We intend to target our monitoring activity towards those authorities which repeatedly or seriously fail to respond to freedom of information requests within the appropriate timescales".

a. Please explain what the basis is for deciding to monitor a public authority for FOI responses and what factors have to be met.

b. Your press release for 30 April said action had been taken because you received "a significant number of complaints about each authorities’ failure to respond to requests within the statutory time limit" - how many complaints is 'a significant number'.

c. Please send me any internal guidelines you follow for this.

6. I can't find where you publish the results of this monitoring, in the press release on 30 April you say you will publish them. can you please give me a link to this if they're available. If you don't publish the results, please release them now.

Thankyou.

Yours faithfully,

David P Myles

Information Commissioner’s Office

PROTECT

 

25 November 2013

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0521761

 

Dear Mr Myles

Request for Information

Thank you for your correspondence which we received on the 23 November
2013 in which you have made a request for information held by the
Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Your request has been passed to
the Information Governance Department to deal with.
 
Your request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. We will respond promptly, and no later than the 23
December 2013 which is 20 working days from the day after we received your
request.

Should you wish to reply to this email, please be 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.
 
If you require any further advice or assistance please contact me on the
number below or our Helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Yours sincerely

Michael Downs
Information Governance Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone: 01625 545332
 

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

Information Commissioner’s Office

3 Attachments

PROTECT
 
23 December 2013

Case Reference Number IRQ0521761

Dear Mr Myles

Request for Information
 
Further to our acknowledgement of 25 November 2013 we are now in a
position to provide you with a response to your request for information.
 
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 email of 23 November 2013 you asked us to provide you with the
following:
 
“Please send me this information about your monitoring and numbers of
complaints made to you about public authorities in 2013 up to today's
date.
 
For each month:
 
1. The number of complaints about FOI responses issued by public
authorities  and how many complaints were made against each public
authority.
 
2. The number of complaints about delays to FOI responses and how many
complaints were made against each public authority.
 
3. The number of complaints about public authorities responses to subject
access requests under Data Protection Act. Please show how many complaints
were made against each public authority.
 
4 The number of complaints about delays to subject access responses.
Please show how many complaints were made against each public authority.
 
5.On your 'monitoring compliance' page you say "We intend to target our
monitoring activity towards those authorities which repeatedly or
seriously fail to respond to freedom of information requests within the
appropriate timescales".
 
a. Please explain what the basis is for deciding to monitor a public
authority for FOI responses and what factors have to be met. 
 
b. Your press release for 30 April said action had been taken because you
received "a significant number of complaints about each authorities
failure to respond to requests within the statutory time limit" - how many
complaints is 'a significant number'.
 
c. Please send me any internal guidelines you follow for this.
 
6. I can't find where you publish the results of this monitoring, in the
press release on 30 April you say you will publish them. can you please
give me a link to this if they're available. If you don't publish the
results, please release them now.”
 
Information Held
 
Firstly, we can confirm that we do hold this information.
 
1. The number of complaints about FOI responses issued by public
authorities and how many complaints were made against each public
authority.
 
The attached spreadsheet labelled ‘FOI 2013’ shows the number of complaint
casework about public authorities by month. This spreadsheet also displays
how many complaints were made against each public authority. In the
calendar year 2013 to end of 30 Nov 13 there were 4988 FOI and EIR
complaint cases finished. There were 1178 public authorities recorded.  
 
2. The number of complaints about delays to FOI responses and how many
complaints were made against each public authority.
 
In the calendar year 2013 to the end of 30 November 2013 there were 1627
FOI complaint cases where the technical breach was recorded as section 10.
There were 563 public authorities about which section 10 breaches were
recorded. There were also 51 EIR complaint cases that were finished in the
calendar year 2013 to end of 30 November 2013 where the technical breach
was recorded as 5(2). The number of public authorities against which these
‘delay’ complaints were made was 46. 
 
3. The number of complaints about public authorities responses to subject
access requests under Data Protection Act. Please show how many complaints
were made against each public authority.
 
See below.
 
4 The number of complaints about delays to subject access responses.
Please show how many complaints were made against each public authority.
 
Unfortunately we are not able to provide you with the information you have
requested in points 3 and 4. I will explain in more detail below why this
is the case, but in brief, section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (FOIA) makes clear that a public authority (such as the Information
Commissioner’s Office – 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. 
 
Whilst the information you have requested is likely to sit within our
electronic case management system, this system is not set up to easily
provide us with the type of information you have requested. Generally
speaking this is not the sort of information we would need for our own day
to day business purposes. 
 
Under section 42 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) individuals can ask
the Information Commissioner to conduct a request for assessment (RFA) to
decide whether their personal data has been processed in compliance with
the requirements of the DPA. All RFA cases are put onto our electronic
case management system. 
 
The correspondence is scanned onto the system and an electronic record is
created for every case, every complainant and every ‘complained about’
data controller.
 
The system allows us to search for the cases we have dealt with in a
number of different ways, such as by the unique reference number the case
was given, the name and address of the person who contacted us and the
name of any data controller that has been complained about.  We can also
search for cases on the basis of the broad nature of the complaint, but we
can only search on a limited number of fixed criteria which are structured
around the main requirements of the DPA.
 
To find the requested information at point 4 we would need to individually
check each of the cases we had received about public authority responses
to subject access requests in the calendar year 2013 in order to establish
whether the complaint was about a delay or another matter, for example, a
timely response may have been provided but information might have been
withheld.
 
Although we do have a ‘nature’ entitled ‘subject access’,   we are unable
to conduct an electronic search specifically for complaints that are about
public authority timeliness in providing subject access requests.
 
Having checked our case management system for figures we can confirm that
there are 1567 cases recorded under ‘subject access request’ in 2013 for
‘central government’ (623) and ‘local government’ (944) alone. There are
additional sectors such as ‘education’, ‘health’, ‘other’ etc which
encompass public authorities but can also include private organisations.
This is why we cannot provide an answer to point 3.
 
However, confining the search under point 4 to the known public authority
sectors and assuming that each search of each case would take at least 2
minutes (and it is certain that some searches would take much longer than
that), this would equate to over 52 hours’ worth of searching. This is
well in excess of the 18 hours which would accrue a charge of £450.  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.
 
However, if you are able to narrow the scope of your request we may be in
a position to provide the information free of charge, if it will cost us
less than the appropriate limit to do so. For example, if you can name any
of the specific public authorities that you want information about, then
we may be able to conduct further searches and provide the information you
seek.  I should point out that any reformulated request you may wish to
make to the ICO will be treated as a new FOI request, and the 20 working
day time limit will begin again.
 
We can, however, provide you with a spreadsheet (see ‘DP 2013’ attached)
which shows DP complaint casework finished with the nature recorded as
‘subject access’ in the calendar year 2013 by sector and by month. This
information is with the proviso that these are the total subject access
requests we received in 2013 and includes all data controllers and not
just those that are also public authorities.  
 
5.On your 'monitoring compliance' page you say "We intend to target our
monitoring activity towards those authorities which repeatedly or
seriously fail to respond to freedom of information requests within the
appropriate timescales".
 
a. Please explain what the basis is for deciding to monitor a public
authority for FOI responses and what factors have to be met.
 
The link [1]here explains how the ICO selects public authorities for
monitoring.
 
b. Your press release for 30 April said action had been taken because you
received "a significant number of complaints about each authorities
failure to respond to requests within the statutory time limit" - how many
complaints is 'a significant number'.
 
The press release you refer to concerned action taken on the basis of
section 50 complaint cases in which delay was an issue and involved cases
close between 1 July 2012 and 30 December 2012. 
 
The numbers in relation to the three authorities involved was 7, 8 and
11. 
 
c. Please send me any internal guidelines you follow for this.
 
The guidance is attached.
 
6. I can't find where you publish the results of this monitoring, in the
press release on 30 April you say you will publish them. can you please
give me a link to this if they're available. If you don't publish the
results, please release them now.”
 
Please find [2]here a link to the latest press release from August 2013. 
The next release is not yet drafted but is due for release in January
2014.
 
No information has been withheld from our response.
 
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 [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 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
[4]here .
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Janine Gregory      Lead Information Governance Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545770  F. 01625 524510  [5]www.ico.org.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.org.uk

References

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