Officer initiated standards investigation costing £98k

Waiting for an internal review by City of York Council of their handling of this request.

Dear City of York Council,

In this recently published foi you admit that the officer initiated standards investigation into the exonerated Deputy Leader has now cost us taxpayers £98.3k so far. That does not count all the staff costs in CYC and NYC, not does it account for work HR/legal that has had to be outsourced as CYC staff continued their Officer led lengthy investigation into the entirely exonerated Deputy Leader and an exec member, still shockingly mired in the process, after two years.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...
Considering this is such a large sum of money please provide every decision notice and all recorded information on authorities given to spend this massive amount. Also provide details of which officer signed off these invoices

Yours faithfully,

Gwen Swinburn

foi@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

Thank you for your email. Please note this is an automatically generated receipt to let you know we have received your email.

For information:

* The timescale for responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Environmental Information Regulation (EIR) requests is up to 20 working days. We will contact you promptly if we need you to clarify your request or an extension to complete a public interest test.

o The timescale for responding to requests for a review, for FOIA or EIR responses, is up to 20 working days. You are also able to contact the Information Commissioner, contact details below:

* The timescale for responding to your rights in relation to personal data eg: subject access to records (SAR) request, is up to 1 month. We will contact you promptly if we require further information from you, or an extension.

o The timescale for responding to requests for a review, of responses to your rights regarding personal data, is up to 1 month. You are also able to contact the Information Commissioner, contact details below:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a national rate number
Fax: 01625 524 510
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Customer Feedback Team

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Help protect the environment! - please don't print this email unless you really need to.

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Dear City of York Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews. You have ignored this request. Clearly it is in the public interest. You are under obligations to provide an answer.

I am writing to request an internal review of City of York Council's handling of my FOI request 'Officer initiated standards investigation costing £98k'.

[ GIVE DETAILS ABOUT YOUR COMPLAINT HERE ]

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

Yours faithfully,

Gwen Swinburn

foi@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

Thank you for your email. Please note this is an automatically generated receipt to let you know we have received your email.

For information:

* The timescale for responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Environmental Information Regulation (EIR) requests is up to 20 working days. We will contact you promptly if we need you to clarify your request or an extension to complete a public interest test.

o The timescale for responding to requests for a review, for FOIA or EIR responses, is up to 20 working days. You are also able to contact the Information Commissioner, contact details below:

* The timescale for responding to your rights in relation to personal data eg: subject access to records (SAR) request, is up to 1 month. We will contact you promptly if we require further information from you, or an extension.

o The timescale for responding to requests for a review, of responses to your rights regarding personal data, is up to 1 month. You are also able to contact the Information Commissioner, contact details below:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a national rate number
Fax: 01625 524 510
Or email: [email address]<mailto:[email address]> (please include your telephone number in your email)

Regards
Customer Feedback Team

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Help protect the environment! - please don't print this email unless you really need to.

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Dear [email address],

I have sent this to the ICO as you have breached your legal duties by ignoring this request

Yours sincerely,

Gwen Swinburn

Dear [email address],

The ICO has issued you a direction to reply within 10 days ..

Gwen

18 October 2019

Case Reference Number FS50879913

Dear Ms Swinburn,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Your ref: Request regarding 'Officer initiated standards investigation costing £98k'
Your information request to the City of York Council

Thank you for your correspondence of 4 October 2019 in which you complain about the above public authority’s failure to respond to your information request.

When considering complaints about delayed or failed responses to information requests our priority is to ensure requesters receive a response as quickly as possible where one has not been provided, and to monitor any persistent trends which might indicate that a public authority is routinely failing to respond within the statutory timeframe.

We will use intelligence gathered from individual cases to inform our insight and compliance function. This will align with the goal in our Openness by design strategy to improve standards of accountability, openness and transparency in a digital age. We aim to increase the impact of FOIA enforcement activity through targeting of systemic non-compliance, consistent with the approaches set out in our Regulatory Action Policy.

I have written to the public authority reminding them of their responsibilities and asking them to respond to you within 10 working days of receiving our letter.

If you do not receive any response within 10 working days, please contact us.

The late response will be recorded and as described will form part of our on-going activity to consider the performance of public authorities and the FOIA.

The Commissioner does not need to serve a decision notice in an individual case in order to use that case as evidence for future enforcement action. Should you wish the Information Commissioner to issue a decision notice for your specific complaint we are able to do so.

If the public authority responds and refuses to release the information you have asked for and you are dissatisfied, you may, after exhausting their internal complaints procedure, complain to us again.

Thank you for bringing these concerns to the attention of the Information Commissioner. If you require any further assistance then please contact me on the number below.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Clouston
Lead Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office
Direct Dial Number: 0330 313 1795

For information about what we do with personal data see our Privacy Notice

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) – how the ICO deals with FOIA complaints

A brief explanation of how the FOIA works

Release of information under FOIA is, effectively, a disclosure to the general public, not just to the person making a request. The fact that a person might need the information for their own particular purposes is not a relevant consideration; public authorities can only consider whether information being requested under FOIA should be released into the public domain.

The FOIA provides a public right of access to information held on record by public authorities, and it is important to note what this means. Essentially, anyone can request copies of information which a public authority already holds in a recorded form, but the FOIA does not require it to provide opinions or explanations, generate answers to questions, or create or obtain information it does not hold. A valid request is one which:-

Is in writing
Clearly describes the information requested
Gives the applicant’s name (not a pseudonym) and an address for correspondence (an email address can usually be acceptable )

On receipt of a valid request, a public authority must respond in writing, within 20 working days of receiving the request, and should:-

Either confirm or deny it holds the information
If the information is held a public authority should either provide it or issue a valid refusal notice
If information is exempt from disclosure the refusal notice should specify which exemptions in Part II of the FOIA apply, and explain why they apply
There may be other reasons for refusal, for example if the request is deemed repeated or vexatious, or if it would cost too much to comply with
The refusal notice should also give details of any appeal/internal review procedure the authority has for FOIA responses

The role of the ICO

Section 50 of the FOIA gives people the right to complain to the ICO if they believe a public authority has failed to comply with its obligations under the FOIA. The ICO will make an initial assessment of all complaints to establish whether they can be progressed. Where complaints can be progressed, we will send you an acknowledgment and case reference number. Your case will then be referred to an individual case officer to conduct any further investigation required.

If we cannot resolve your complaint informally the Commissioner may issue a Decision Notice. However, where it is deemed that a complaint is not eligible for consideration, the ICO will explain why, advise the appropriate course of action, and close the case.

How to help ensure your case is progressed

To ensure your case is eligible for consideration you need to supply us with sufficient evidence. Before any complaint can be progressed you must provide us with copies of the following documents:

Your initial request to the public authority
The public authority’s response or refusal (if the initial response is just an acknowledgement we shall require a copy of any full response received)
Your request to the public authority for an internal review
The public authority’s internal review result

If the complaint is about non-response to a request we only need a copy of the request and, if available, any evidence that it was received by the public authority.

We require complete and unedited copies of these documents including, where relevant, email headers showing sender, recipient and date details. It is the responsibility of the complainant to supply us with the documents referred to above. You should ensure, therefore, that you keep copies of relevant correspondence.

Why we might not progress your complaint

We may deem your complaint ineligible under Section 50 of the FOIA if:

We have not been provided with sufficient information or documentation in support of a complaint, or the information you have provided is unclear
You have not yet asked the public authority for an internal review of its response
There has been an undue delay in bringing the complaint to us; we will not normally accept complaints if more than three months have elapsed from the date the authority’s internal review result was sent to you
We deem the complaint to be frivolous or vexatious

We hope you find this information useful; if you need anything further please visit our website at www.ico.org.uk or call our helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Yours sincerely,

Gwen Swinburn

Gwen Swinburn left an annotation ()

Sadly the Council has ignored the ICO as well as me.

On Fri, 18 Oct 2019 at 14:36, <casework@ico.org.uk> wrote:
18 October 2019

Case Reference Number FS50879913

Dear Ms Swinburn,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Your ref: Request regarding 'Officer initiated standards investigation costing £98k'
Your information request to the City of York Council

Thank you for your correspondence of 4 October 2019 in which you complain about the above public authority’s failure to respond to your information request.

When considering complaints about delayed or failed responses to information requests our priority is to ensure requesters receive a response as quickly as possible where one has not been provided, and to monitor any persistent trends which might indicate that a public authority is routinely failing to respond within the statutory timeframe.

We will use intelligence gathered from individual cases to inform our insight and compliance function. This will align with the goal in our Openness by design strategy to improve standards of accountability, openness and transparency in a digital age. We aim to increase the impact of FOIA enforcement activity through targeting of systemic non-compliance, consistent with the approaches set out in our Regulatory Action Policy.

I have written to the public authority reminding them of their responsibilities and asking them to respond to you within 10 working days of receiving our letter.

If you do not receive any response within 10 working days, please contact us.

The late response will be recorded and as described will form part of our on-going activity to consider the performance of public authorities and the FOIA.

The Commissioner does not need to serve a decision notice in an individual case in order to use that case as evidence for future enforcement action. Should you wish the Information Commissioner to issue a decision notice for your specific complaint we are able to do so.

If the public authority responds and refuses to release the information you have asked for and you are dissatisfied, you may, after exhausting their internal complaints procedure, complain to us again.

Thank you for bringing these concerns to the attention of the Information Commissioner. If you require any further assistance then please contact me on the number below.

Yours sincerely,

xxx
Lead Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office
Direct Dial Number: 0330 313 xxxx

Gwen Swinburn left an annotation ()

So the ICO has issued a section 10 notice on CYC - they ignored my Foi and the ICO

Reference: FS50879913
Date:
Public Authority: Address:
Complainant: Address:
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) Decision notice
27 November 2019
City of York Council West Offices Station Rise
York
YO1 6GA

Decision (including any steps ordered)
1. The complainant requested information from City of York Council (“the Council”) relating to an investigation into the exonerated Deputy Leader.
2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the Council has failed to respond to the request within 20 working days and has therefore breached section 10 of the FOIA.
3. The Commissioner requires the Council to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation.
 The Council must issue a substantive response to the request in accordance with its obligations under the FOIA.
4. The Council must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court.
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Reference: FS50879913
Request and response
5. On 10 April 2019, the complainant wrote to the Council and requested information in the following terms:
“In this recently published foi you admit that the officer initiated standards investigation into the exonerated Deputy Leader has now cost us taxpayers £98.3k so far. That does not count all the staff costs in CYC and NYC, not does it account for work HR/legal that has had to be outsourced as CYC staff continued their Officer led lengthy investigation into the entirely exonerated Deputy Leader and an exec member, still shockingly mired in the process, after two years. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...
Considering this is such a large sum of money please provide every decision notice and all recorded information on authorities given to spend this massive amount. Also provide details of which officer signed off these invoices”
6. The Council wrote to the complainant on 10 April 2019 to acknowledge the request.
7. On 6 May 2019, the complainant wrote to the Council and requested an internal review as they had not received a response to their request.
8. On 4 October 2019, the complainant wrote to the Council to state that they would be contacting the ICO.
9. The complainant has provided evidence that she has received an acknowledgement from the Council but, by the date of this notice, had not received a substantive response to her information request.
Scope of the case
10. The complainant contacted the Commissioner on 4 October 2019 to complain about the Council’s failure to respond to her request.
11. The Commissioner contacted the Council on 18 October 2019 reminding it of its responsibilities and asking it to provide a response to the complainant within 10 working days.
12. The Commissioner also contacted the complainant on 18 October 2019 to explain that the Council had been given 10 working days from 18 October 2019 within which to provide a response to their request.
13. The scope of this notice and the following analysis is to consider whether the Council has complied with section 10 of the FOIA.
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Reference: FS50879913
Reasons for decision
14. Section 10 of the FOIA states that:
Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled –
(a) To be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b) If that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.
15. The Commissioner considers that the request in question fulfilled the above criteria and therefore constituted a valid request for recorded information under the FOIA.
16. Section 10 of the FOIA states that responses to requests made under the Act must be provided, “promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.”
17. The Council did not provide a substantive response to the request within 20 working days of receipt. Therefore, the Commissioner’s decision is that the Council has breached section 10 of the FOIA.
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Reference: FS50879913
Right of appeal
18. Either party has the right to appeal against this decision notice to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights). Information about the appeals process may be obtained from:
First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) GRC & GRP Tribunals,
PO Box 9300,
LEICESTER,
LE1 8DJ
Tel: 0300 1234504
Fax: 0870 739 5836
Email: grc@justice.gov.uk
Website: www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/general-reg... chamber
19. If you wish to appeal against a decision notice, you can obtain information on how to appeal along with the relevant forms from the Information Tribunal website.
20. Any Notice of Appeal should be served on the Tribunal within 28 (calendar) days of the date on which this decision notice is sent.
Signed ...
Ben Tomes
Team Manager
Information Commissioner’s Office Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
.....................
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