PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees

Jt Oakley made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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 partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section (Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of the Act.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK. The information should be immediately readable - and, as a freedom of Information request, not put in a PDF or any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access.

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::::::
Please consider the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on file, rather than newly written letters of response.
https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Nb PHSO - This request does not require a letter, drafted by the external affairs department after the date of request, or any other written input by reputational defence employees, purporting to be the response to a FOIA request.

The request:

Please provide an ‘organisational family tree’ of the PHSO’s public facing officers with their job titles,
together with an brief summary of their role and responsibilities .

I wish to to determine exactly who is responsible for poorly executed decisions.

I would imagine, due to current criticism still being levelled at the PHSO, that this would assist many people in complaining about an organisation, which seemingly doesn’t take the trouble to scope complaints ...before making snap judgements on misread and poorly understood complaints.

Therefore the response will be in the public interest.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley

 

Thank you for your email dated 6 July 2018 requesting information held by
the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. You have requested:

 

Please provide an ‘organisational family tree’  of the PHSO’s  public
facing officers with  their job titles, together with an brief summary of
their role and responsibilities .

 

Your request will be responded to in line with the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

 

A response will be sent to you on or before 3 August 2018 in line with the
statutory timeframes set out in the Act.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: www.ombudsman.org.uk  

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley

 

RE: Your information request: R0000104

 

I write in response to your email of 6 July 2018 in regards to your
request for information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO). Your request has been processed under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

You have requested:

 

Please provide an ‘organisational family tree’ of the PHSO’s public facing
officers with their job titles, together with a brief summary of their
role and responsibilities.

 

Response:

 

We publish an organogram with job titles/roles of public facing officers
on our website within our Publication Scheme [1]here. Therefore, Section
21(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been applied to this
element of your request as this information is reasonably accessible by
other means.

 

We do not hold an organogram with a more detailed summary of roles and
responsibilities.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way I have processed your
information request, it is open to you to request an internal review.  You
can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email] . You will need to specify that the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([3]www.ico.org.uk ).

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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References

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Dear InformationRights,

Response:

We publish an organogram with job titles/roles of public facing officers
on our website within our Publication Scheme [1]here. Therefore, Section
21(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been applied to this
element of your request as this information is reasonably accessible by
other means.

1. Thank you but I need a little more information than:

‘Here’

Could you provide a link to ‘Here’ ... wherever it is, please?

2. And that is ALL public facing officers, not just committee members and officers

For example: Communications employees certainly deal with the public face-to- face .

So do any officers who attend any meetings with the public, in whatever capacity.

Thus public facing employees,

==

3.Please also provide a brief description of public facing officers job descriptions - as requested.

And which you must have on record, as a condition of their employment.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley

The reference to 'here' was providing a hyperlink to the document which is published. I can only assume the format of the whatdotheyknow.com website has affected being able to access this. I have provided the full link below:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

I have also provided below a link to the publication scheme where this organogram is published within the 'who we are and what we do' section:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...

The organogram includes all departments including areas such as Communications/External Affairs & Insight. To ensure you are viewing the latest version of the organogram please access the second link above so that it takes you to the current version published.

Your request for internal review on the remaining points will be passed to another Officer to process.

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees'.

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you.

But I am asking for data that you hold on file under FOIA.

Not just to read what the PHSO has already ‘published’.

*Please refer to the FOIA ...before a Review is undertaken.

On reading it you will find that it specifies information , not exclusively ‘published information ’.

Therefore please respond fully to the request, as I’m sure that it would assist the public ( and the PHSO) for complainants to know public facing officer’s responsibilities for during their PHSO journey.

And, as explained, that needn’t be the whole job description, ( although if you cannot précis their responsibilities to few informative lines, then please provide them)

===

Here is the *FOIAct as a reminder...

The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Information held by Scottish public authorities is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. However, the Act does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover some charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions.

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.

==

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear JT Oakley,

 

Internal Review of Freedom of Information Request

 

I write in response to your email of 28 July in which you request an
Internal Review of our response to your request for information. I have
reconsidered your correspondence and our responses to you.

 

Timeliness of Response

 

The response to your request was within the 20 working days stipulated by
section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Information Provided

 

On 6 July you requested the following information:

 

Please provide an ‘organisational family tree’  of the PHSO’s  public
facing officers with  their job titles, together with an brief summary of
their role and responsibilities .

 

On 24 July our response was:

 

We publish an organogram with job titles/roles of public facing officers
on our website within our Publication Scheme [1]here. Therefore, Section
21(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been applied to this
element of your request as this information is reasonably accessible by
other means.

We do not hold an organogram with a more detailed summary of roles and
responsibilities.

 

On 24 July you contacted us in relation to your request:

 

1. Thank you but I need a little more information  than:

‘Here’

Could you provide  a link to ‘Here’ ... wherever it is, please?

2. And that is ALL public facing officers, not just committee members 
and  officers

For example: Communications employees certainly deal with the public
face-to- face .

So do any officers who attend any meetings with the public, in whatever
capacity.

Thus public facing employees,

==

3.Please also provide a brief description of public facing officers job
descriptions   - as requested.

And which you must have on record, as a condition of their employment.

 

On 24 July we responded with:

 

The reference to 'here' was providing a hyperlink to the document which is
published. I can only assume the format of the whatdotheyknow.com website
has affected being able to access this. I have provided the full link
below:

[2]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

I have also provided below a link to the publication scheme where this
organogram is published within the 'who we are and what we do' section:

[3]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...

The organogram includes all departments including areas such as
Communications/External Affairs & Insight.  To ensure you are viewing the
latest version of the organogram please access the second link above so
that it takes you to the current version published.

Your request for internal review on the remaining points will be passed to
another Officer to process.

 

Conclusion

 

Our response of 24 July stated “We publish an organogram with job
titles/roles of public facing officers on our website within our
Publication Scheme [4]here. Therefore, Section 21(1) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 has been applied to this element of your request as
this information is reasonably accessible by other means.”

 

On review, this aspect of the response was not correct as we do not hold a
specific organisational family tree of PHSO’s ‘public facing officers’.
There is no recorded information in relation to a role being specifically
‘public facing’. A link to our organisational chart was provided in our
response and the use of s21 of the Act was used as the organisation chart
is reasonably available online.

 

I am also of the opinion that more could have been done under our section
16 duty to advise and assist with your information request. We do not hold
an overall family tree of ‘public facing’ officers, however, we do have
teams who communicate with complainants and their representatives about
the complaints process such as the Intake Team, Senior Casework Team,
Casework Team, Complex Casework Team and Review & Feedback Team. The teams
and roles are within the organisation chart. Therefore, in my view these
teams fall under the definition of public facing. As such, to assist
please see below a brief summary of the roles within those teams:

 

Intake

 

·         Assistant Director Intake and Resolution

Considering and Investigating complaints through the casework journey is
PHSO’s core function and doing so is crucial for achieving PHSO’s
strategic aims. 

This role will lead by example, performance manage, motivate and develop a
team to deliver a high quality customer interface from first contact to
case closure (excluding operational casework). They will be responsible
and accountable for the quality efficacy of the customer experience
provided through their team to those people who come to PHSO for help; and
for continuously improving performance, and anticipating and responding to
the changing external environment.

The role has responsibility for the intake of complaints and ongoing
management of the end to end customer journey and maintenance of customer
care.

 

 

·         Intake Operations Manager

To lead, manage, motivate and develop a team of caseworkers to produce
work in a timely and proportionate way, to the agreed quality and output
standards whilst delivering excellent customer service as part of the
service. To make robust and sound decisions, as appropriate and in line
with the delegation scheme and PHSO’s policies and guidance, and to
quality assure decisions taken by teams.

 

·         Intake Caseworkers

To undertake casework in a timely and proportionate way to the agreed
quality and output standards under the direction of the operational
manager

 

Senior Casework Team

 

·         Assistant Director of Casework

Considering and Investigating complaints through the casework journey is
PHSO’s core function and doing so is crucial for achieving PHSO’s
strategic aims. 

This role will lead by example, performance manage, motivate and develop a
team of managers to support their teams to achieve agreed casework targets
with regard to quality and volume and in line with the business and
strategic plan aims and objectives. 

The post is responsible and accountable for the quality and efficacy of
customer experience provided through their teams to those people who come
to PHSO for help; and for continuously improving performance, and
anticipating and responding to the changing external environment.

The role has responsibility for the mainstream casework operation that
underpins PHSO service. 

 

·         Operations Manager

To lead, manage, motivate and develop a team of caseworkers to produce
work in a timely and proportionate way, to the agreed quality and output
standards whilst delivering excellent customer service as part of the
service

To make robust and sound decisions, as appropriate and in line with the
delegation scheme and PHSO’s policies and guidance, and to quality assure
decisions taken by teams

 

·         Senior Caseworker

To conclude casework in a timely and proportionate way to the agreed
quality and output standards and PHSO’s policies and take decisions on
cases, in accordance with the delegation scheme

Casework is varied and complex and requires the ability to progress cases
and make frequent decisions about cases in line with the delegation
scheme. This can be in conjunction with a variety of parties /
stakeholders.

 

Casework Team

 

·         Assistant Director of Casework

Considering and Investigating complaints through the casework journey is
PHSO’s core function and doing so is crucial for achieving PHSO’s
strategic aims. 

This role will lead by example, performance manage, motivate and develop a
team of managers to support their teams to achieve agreed casework targets
with regard to quality and volume and in line with the business and
strategic plan aims and objectives. 

The post is responsible and accountable for the quality and efficacy of
customer experience provided through their teams to those people who come
to PHSO for help; and for continuously improving performance, and
anticipating and responding to the changing external environment.

The role has responsibility for the mainstream casework operation that
underpins PHSO service. 

 

·         Operations Manager

To lead, manage, motivate and develop a team of caseworkers to produce
work in a timely and proportionate way, to the agreed quality and output
standards whilst delivering excellent customer service as part of the
service

To make robust and sound decisions, as appropriate and in line with the
delegation scheme and PHSO’s policies and guidance, and to quality assure
decisions taken by teams

 

·         Caseworker

To undertake casework in a timely and proportionate way to the agreed
quality and output standards under the direction of the operational
manager

 

Complex Casework Team

 

·         AD of complex casework

Considering and Investigating complaints through the casework journey is
PHSO’s core function and doing so is crucial for achieving PHSO’s
strategic aims. 

This role will have lead responsibility for complex cases and oversight of
all high risk cases, and performance manage, motivate and develop a team
of managers to support their teams to achieve agreed casework targets with
regard to quality and volume and in line with the business and strategic
plan aims and objectives. 

The post is responsible and accountable for the quality and customer
experience provided through their teams to those people who come to PHSO
for help; and for continuously improving performance, and anticipating and
responding to the changing external environment.

The role has responsibility for major complex, systemic, high risk and
high profile cases across PHSO. The post holder will lead by example,
providing a professional investigative role model for the organisation.

 

·         Operations Manager

To lead, manage, motivate and develop a team of caseworkers to produce
work in a timely and proportionate way, to the agreed quality and output
standards whilst delivering excellent customer service as part of the
service

To make robust and sound decisions, as appropriate and in line with the
delegation scheme and PHSO’s policies and guidance, and to quality assure
decisions taken by teams

 

·         Senior Caseworker

To conclude casework in a timely and proportionate way to the agreed
quality and output standards and PHSO’s policies and take decisions on
cases, in accordance with the delegation scheme

Casework is varied and complex and requires the ability to progress cases
and make frequent decisions about cases in line with the delegation
scheme. This can be in conjunction with a variety of parties /
stakeholders.

 

Review and Feedback Team

 

·         AD of Intake and Resolution

Considering and Investigating complaints through the casework journey is
PHSO’s core function and doing so is crucial for achieving PHSO’s
strategic aims. 

This role will lead by example, performance manage, motivate and develop a
team to deliver a high quality customer interface from first contact to
case closure (excluding operational casework). They will be responsible
and accountable for the quality efficacy of the customer experience
provided through their team to those people who come to PHSO for help; and
for continuously improving performance, and anticipating and responding to
the changing external environment.

The role has responsibility for the intake of complaints and ongoing
management of the end to end customer journey and maintenance of customer
care.

 

·         Operations Manager

To lead, manage, motivate and develop a team of caseworkers to produce
work in a timely and proportionate way, to the agreed quality and output
standards whilst delivering excellent customer service as part of the
service

To make robust and sound decisions, as appropriate and in line with the
delegation scheme and PHSO’s policies and guidance, and to quality assure
decisions taken by teams

 

·         Senior Caseworker

To conclude casework in a timely and proportionate way to the agreed
quality and output standards and PHSO’s policies and take decisions on
cases, in accordance with the delegation scheme

Casework is varied and complex and requires the ability to progress cases
and make frequent decisions about cases in line with the delegation
scheme. This can be in conjunction with a variety of parties /
stakeholders.

 

·         Caseworker

To undertake casework in a timely and proportionate way to the agreed
quality and output standards under the direction of the operational
manager.

 

 

For the reasons set out above I uphold your complaint as reasonable
provision of assistance as required under s16 was not provided.

 

Also, please note that if you require details of any position at PHSO you
are able to make a request for a summary or job descriptions of any
particular role.

 

If you remain unhappy with my review, it is open to you to complain to the
Information Commissioner’s Office ([5]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Andrew Martin

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [6]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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Dear InformationRights,

Thank you.

If public officials are paid to be public facing - in their contracts of employment - why should their names then be kept secret from the public? It would seem to be contradictory.

Since they are public facing...and this is a an FOIA public information request to an organisation which particularly espouses openness,...please supply their names with the job descriptions above, as requested.

==

I also be would be grateful - since the response is vague - to read the data on how the PHSO’s HR department can determine the line of its management - without holding it in any data form.

The PHSO must be the only organisation in the country in which has this new management non-data facility.

Surely it should be a matter of pride - and public knowledge - that such a system could exist and that the PHSO is in the vanguard of this new communication strategy?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

______________________________________________________________________
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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear Jt Oakley

 

RE: Your Information Request – R0000247

 

Thank you for your email of 14 September 2018 in which you requested
information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI).

 

In regard to your first question –

 

If public officials are paid to be public facing -  in their contracts  of
employment - why should their names then  be kept secret from the
public?   It would seem to be contradictory.

 

Since they are public facing...and this is a an FOIA public information
request to an organisation which particularly espouses  openness,...please
supply their names  with the job descriptions above, as requested.

 

When it comes to disclosing the names of PHSO staff in response to an FOI
request, where the information falls within the scope of an information
request, we would consider such a request on a case by case basis.

 

In most circumstances we would look to disclose the names of more senior
staff. However, in respect of more junior staff, such as caseworks, we
would usually withhold their names as this information is exempt in under
section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 by virtue of section
40(3)(a)(i). This is because disclosure of personal data into the public
domain would be against the legitimate expectations of the individual(s)
concerned and thus unfair, and a breach of the first data protection
principle as set out at Article 5 of the General Data Protection
Regulation.

 

In regard to your second question –

 

‘I also be would be grateful - since the response is vague  - to read the
data on how the PHSO’s HR department  can determine  the  line of its
management  - without holding it in any data form.

 

The PHSO  must be the only organisation in the country in which has this
new management non-data facility. 

 

Surely it should be a matter of pride - and public knowledge - that such a
system could exist and that the  PHSO is in the vanguard of this new
communication strategy?’

 

After conducting my initial consideration of your information request, it
has become clear that I need clarification from you as Section 1(3) of the
Freedom of Information Act states that a public authority is not obliged
to comply with a request for information in situations where it requires
further details in order to do so. As such, to enable me to process your
request I will require you to clarify exactly what information you
require.

 

Please note the Freedom of Information Act only covers information that is
in a recorded form. We would not therefore be able to disclose under FOI
an opinion or explanation unless it is held in recorded form.

 

Your request will now be placed on hold until I receive clarification. I
look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

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Our Service Charter explains how we work
[6]Click here to find out more

 

Watch our short animation to find out how we deal with complaints

 

 

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Dear InformationRights,

Thank you but you have not answered a plea for clarification .- in that I would need a 16 help and advice as to know how to reframe my request .

I have no knowledge of your HR system and no clarification has been provided on ‘public facing’ terms within contracts of employment as to what the term ‘public facing ‘ means to the PHSO in contracts of employment.

Pease therefore return to the request and provide the explanation ‘public facing’, as in theHR context and contracts

That would be the explanation of the term public facing - as given to employees in their contracts.

Because it seems to me that ‘public facing’ ‘means just thAt.

Which means ‘public facing’ ,as written in phos contracts , doesn’t seem to mean the term as a normal FOIA requester would understand.

This would help your response to the request become plain.

Because at the moment the response seems to be that ‘public facing’ is only applicable to some ...and not others. Who have the words written in their contractt. And ate presumably paid to be so. With public money.

thereforr please clarify the initial request Under S16 help and assistance the phso’s understanding of the term as used in employment contracts,

It may be of assistance to you to ead through former responses to this request and discover that, indeed, the PHSO previously gave fuller responses to the same request.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear Jt Oakley

 

RE: Your Information Request – R0000247

 

Thank you for your email of 25 September 2018 in which requested
information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
and for providing further clarity on your request.

 

In accordance with the statutory timeframe set out in the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, a response will be sent to you by 12 October 2018.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

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Our Service Charter explains how we work
[6]Click here to find out more

 

Watch our short animation to find out how we deal with complaints

 

 

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear Jt Oakley,

 

RE: Your Information Request – R0000247

 

Thank you for your email of 25 September 2018 in which requested
information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

 

Thank you as well for providing further information in relation to your
request. We acknowledge that there have been a number of correspondences
in regard to your request relating to ‘Public Facing’ roles, this has
included an internal review.

 

In regard to your request for the following information –

 

‘Pease therefore return to the request and provide the explanation ‘public
facing’, as in the HR context and contracts. That would be the explanation
of the term public facing - as given to employees in their contracts.’

 

We can confirm we do not hold the information requested and refer you back
to our response of  24 July 2018 in which we stated -

 

‘There is no recorded information in relation to a role being specifically
‘public facing’. A link to our organisational chart was provided in our
response and the use of s21 of the Act was used as the organisation chart
is reasonably available online.’

 

Previously we have also provided you with information on PHSO job roles
that require them to communicate with complainants and their
representatives about the complaints process, and in our view fall under
the definition of public facing.

 

In accordance with Section 16 of the FOI Act we have further conducted a
search of current employee contracts and can confirm that the term ‘Public
facing’ has not been used within the contracts.

 

In regard to your request for the following information –

 

‘I also be would be grateful - since the response is vague - to read the
data on how the PHSO’s HR department can determine the line of its
management - without holding it in any data form.’

 

We are still unclear what information is being requested and therefore it
is difficult to offer advice and assistance in accordance with Section 16
of the FOI Act.

 

From what we can determine, it would appear that you are seeking
information on how our HR department is structured, specifically
management within the department. In which case we politely refer you back
to our response of 24 July 2018. An organogram of our HR department can be
found by going to either of the links below –

 

‘The reference to 'here' was providing a hyperlink to the document which
is published. I can only assume the format of the whatdotheyknow.com
website has affected being able to access this. I have provided the full
link below:

[1]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

I have also provided below a link to the publication scheme where this
organogram is published within the 'who we are and what we do' section:

[2]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...

The organogram includes all departments including areas such as
Communications/External Affairs & Insight.  To ensure you are viewing the
latest version of the organogram please access the second link above so
that it takes you to the current version published.’

 

If you remain unhappy with our response it is now open to you to complain
to the Information Commissioner’s Office ([3]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [4][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

W: [5]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

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Our Service Charter explains how we work
[9]Click here to find out more

 

Watch our short animation to find out how we deal with complaints

 

 

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees'.

My understanding from your reply is that no PHSO/ employees’ employment contracts make the stipulation that part of their jobs will be to face the public directly - for example: in meetings with the public, talks on the PHSO in public places or representing the PHSO at any public function.

And that there will be no ‘public facing’ or clauses to meet the public in person (face to face/faces ) requirement in any of the PHSO ‘s advertised positions.

And that this extends to the public facing employees already referred to in your reply, having no wording in their contracts with the expectation that they should do so.

Are you therefore absolutely sure that this is the case?

=

In addition, I’m afraid you have misread the request yet again.

I am clearly not asking for the HR departments structure. A single specific department is not within the scope of this request, which is for an organisational family tree. Please read the title of the request, to understand the scope.

I am asking how the HR department can function, without any form of ‘organisational family tree’ to understand how the PHSO functions with with regard to management of its employees. Surely it is it’s basic function?

For example - Who reports to who ? But you state that there is no data in existence of this nature,

Once again, I am surprised that any organisation as a whole can function without knowing -and applying - this information, as this is a basic management tool.

Especially of the employee size of the PHSO’s organisation....Indeed my local garage has one.

Could you once again, confirm that no data exists on these points - before I refer it to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

An internal review has already been undertaken for your request. It is
open to you to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office if you remain
dissatisfied.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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show quoted sections

Dear InformationRights,

Thanks ..I was just trying to save the Information Commissioner’s Office ‘s time, energy and public expenditure.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
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If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office ..

1. Details of the organisation your concern is about
Organisation:    PHSO  
Contact name:     None given
Address:   
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

London
Millbank Tower
30 Millbank
Westminster
London
SW1P 4QP

Opens in a new windowManchester
Citygate
Mosley Street
Manchester
M2 3HQ
  
Telephone:  0345 015 4033 
  
Email: Sorry ...only have the one via the WDTK site
    
2. Your relationship with the organisation
     
Member of the public

3. What is your concern?

1 The PHSO’s response to this request is to argue that only a very few of its senior employees are public facing...ie part of their job is to speak, or listen, to the public face to face.

2.And that the term public facing ( or internal equivalent ) is unknown to it, with regards to employee contracts.
(The PHSO gives No S16 application on rephrasing the term , if needed)

3. And that it has no organisational chart to show it’s line of management which goes further than its senior officers.
I argue one must exist for its HR to function.

4. And that none the of it’s employee contracts specify a public facing role, in any form....Including the senior officers in the brief chart supplied.

5. Section 16 help and assistance on how I might reframe my request ( for example ‘family tree’ , or ‘public facing’ if I am not complying with the PHSO’s own equivalent internal terms) ..as logically I am not privy to the PHSO’ s internal terms..is almost absent.

I do not understand the reason why these terms seem so difficult for the PHSO to interpret or understand, and to apply S16 assist me, if I have got the terminology wrong.

Especially since the PHSO offers ‘face-to-face’ meetings in it’s service standards.

‘We will continue to gather face-to-face feedback from groups and the media, including social media’ .

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

Indeed an equivalent term is advertised:
We are currently recruiting for a Liaison Manager to join our team in Manchester. As part of your role you will act as an ambassador for PHSO when carrying out relevant liaison activities, and be accountable for delivering a high quality relationship management service to both Internal and external stakeholders.
https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/jo...

- It would be rather difficult to liaise with the public ( external) without any face to face contact as an ‘ambassador’.
==

PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees - a Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - WhatDoTheyKnow

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

It is reasonable for the public to know how a public organisation works and who is responsible for dealing with the public. Indeed it would save complainants a great deal of time to discover who they should appeal to, or contact. And how the organisation in terms of those who can be contacted, being public facing.

The PHSO has given this sort of detail in the past, which allowed me to have my case upheld...once I had managed to refer the case to a person who understood it.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

The court also upheld my FOIA request on who to approach, after it being deemed vexatious by the PHSO.

It is not vexatious to try and get a complaint fairly assessed, which is what many complainants face - and are at a loss as to how to do so.

http://informationrights.decisions.tribu... complainants have sOakley.,%20Janet%20Treharne%20EA.2014.0093%20(19.01.2015)%20.pdf

So I do not see why current complainants should not be able to reach the correct people who can then correctly assess their case - as I did - rather than being blocked and their complaints remain unanswered without any explanation.

Nb These are often NHS complainants, who are often distressed, and need to understand how the organisation functions, since several previous complainants have had difficulty in obtaining justice, as the Minister of Health points out.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/...

- In addition, the PHSO states that it is particularly open, transparent and and considerate the needs of complainants to receive information.

Something else. Please give details.
     
Please send us copies of relevant documents that support your concern.

PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees - a Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - WhatDoTheyKnow

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

4. What have you done to raise your concern with the organisation?

PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees - a Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - WhatDoTheyKnow

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing how you raised your concern with the organisation.

5. What did the organisation say?

PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees - a Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - WhatDoTheyKnow

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing the organisation’s response to your concern.
6. Reference number

Sorry - Couldn’t find any one.

Please tell us any reference number that the organisation has given you, eg account number, policy number etc.

As above.
     
7. Your details
Or, if you’re filling this in on behalf of someone else, put their details here.

Please only reply by email to save postal visits and the environment.

8. Declaration
▪ I have included all the necessary supporting evidence.
▪ I understand that the ICO may need to share the information I have provided so they can look into my concern. I have indicated any documents or information that I don’t want the ICO to share.
▪ The information I have provided is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.
▪ I understand that the ICO will electronically store the information relating to my concern including the documents I have provided and keep the electronic records for two years, or for longer if it is appropriate. The ICO will destroy the original hard copies after six months.
I agree.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

On 18 Mar 2019, at 08:27, casework@ico.org.

18 March 2018
 
Case reference FS50793764
 
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Your FOIA request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) dated 6 July 2018 for a specific organogram

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
Further to my correspondence to you of 8 February 2018, I’ve now received a submission from PHSO and have had the opportunity to consider it.   On behalf of the Commissioner I’m satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities, PHSO does not hold the information you have requested and has complied with section 1 of the FOIA.
 
Summary of the original correspondence
 
On 6 July 2018 you requested information of the following description:
 
“Please provide an ‘organisational family tree’ of the PHSO’s public facing officers with their job titles, together with a brief summary of their role and responsibilities.”
 
On 24 July 2018 PHSO responded – its reference R0000104.  It said the relevant information it holds is published on its website and is therefore exempt from release under section 21(1) of the FOIA. PHSO said it does not hold an organogram with a more detailed summary of roles and responsibilities.
 
You requested an internal review on 24 July 2018.  You said PHSO had not provided a functioning link to the published information. You also considered that the published information did not address all the elements of your request. 
 
PHSO sent you a link to the published information and provided an internal review on 13 September 2018. It confirmed that it does not hold a specific organisational family tree of its ‘public facing officers’.  PHSO acknowledged that it could have provided you with more advice and assistance.  It advised that it has particular teams that communicate with complainants and explained the roles of those teams.
 
Further correspondence between you and PHSO followed and the information you have requested and PHSO maintained its position that it does not hold the specific information you have requested, namely an organogram that details the roles and responsibilities of its ‘public facing’ officers.
 
The Commissioner’s preliminary assessment in this case
 
Under section 1(1) of the FOIA, anyone who requests information from a public authority is entitled (a) to be told if the authority holds the information and (b) to have the information communicated to him or her if it is held and is not exempt information.
 
PHSO has provided a submission, which I’ve considered.  PHSO has confirmed it does not hold the information you have requested ie an organogram of its public-facing staff.  It has also confirmed that it is not obliged to hold this information ie it has no reason to hold it. 
 
PHSO says it provided you with a link to the full organogram it does hold; this particular information is already reasonably accessible to you online and therefore exempt information under section 21 of the FOIA.

 * ( Er.. where?)

PHSO has gone on to say that at internal review it recognised that, although it does not hold an organogram of ‘public facing officers’, it does have teams who communicate with members of the public in the complaints process.  PHSO provided you with a brief summary of roles within those teams in order to be helpful.  PHSO says it also advised you that, should you wish to receive a summary or job description of any role contained within its published organogram, you could submit a new request for that.

In considering your request, PHSO says it made enquiries with its internal Human Resources department. This department is responsible for holding job descriptions for PHSO staff and would be the most likely team to hold information within the scope of your request.  That department confirmed that the specific information you have requested is not held.
 
PHSO has confirmed that it has not destroyed or deleted information falling within the scope of your request as it has never held this information – a separate organogram for public-facing staff – and there is no requirement to hold it.
 
Having considered PHSO’s submission and all the circumstances of this case I am satisfied with how PHSO handled your request and that it does not hold the information you have requested.  I appreciate that you consider that PHSO should hold this information but I am satisfied that it does not, and have noted that PHSO has confirmed that there is no requirement for it to hold this information.
 
Therefore, based on the likelihood that we could not require PHSO to take any further steps, I would be minded to close your complaint at this stage.
 
I should be grateful if you let me know if you disagree with my assessment, by Monday 25 March 2019, explaining why, despite the circumstances detailed above, you consider that PHSO does hold the requested information. Please note that if I do not hear from you by this date, I will assume you have withdrawn your complaint with us in accordance with my recommendation and the file on the case will be closed.
 
Thank you for your co-operation in this matter and for bringing it to the Commissioner’s attention.
 
===

1. The link provided in the response leads nowhere. 
So the PHSO  has not provided any requested details 

IT STATES: 

The reference to 'here' was providing a hyperlink to the document which is published. I can only assume the format of the whatdotheyknow.com website has affected being able to access this. I have provided the full link below:
https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

[Screen shot of a 401]

 2. That the PHSO  changed the terms of the request to ‘organigram’.

This is the request
PHSO organisational ‘family tree’ of public facing employees

You will also notice that ‘family tree’ is in quotes to give an idea of structure, and not to be literally interpreted as a family tree. ( or the quotes wouldn’t have been placed as such) 

3. It is impossible for any organisation to function without knowing which employees are  and their relationships to each other.
Surely the Information Commissioner’s Office must have one?

4. Their job descriptions must state whether they are  in contact with the public, or not, since employees have contracts. 

And to place  an employee, who has no such description in their job,  into a public facing role would be legally disputable - say in an industrial tribunal.

5. Therefore the HR department must carry this sort of information, as it is legally imperative that it does so, to safeguard the organisation.

6. From personal experience, I know that almost all employees in the communications department will have public facing ( or words to that meaning) within their contracts.  

Logically they would have to...communicate with the media  ...externally.

Is the PHSO stating that its external communicators don’t communicate, or that it simply doesn’t know who reports to who - in a structural form?

7.In either case, the HR department must hold this information, yet it seems to be stating that it’s external communicators and any other departments are not logged in terms of responsibilities, ie who reports to who. 

8.I honestly can’t think of how this organisation functions without some sort of indicative diagram into its structure.

Clearly those who have to be in contact with the public , would have their names in any such diagram, as - by the nature of their contractual obligations - their names would be on it, as the public would need to know who IS available to public contact.

9. Is the PHSO stating that it is a secret who it’s public facing employees are? 

What happened to its  ‘open and transparent’ boast?
Surely contradictory?

10.Nb

organigram
noun [ C ] also organogram UK  /ɔːˈɡæn.ə.ɡræm/  US   /ɔːrˈɡæn.ə.ɡræm/

a diagram (= simple plan) that showsthe structure of the people in an organization, for example who has the highest rank

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

As expected, the Information Commissioner’s Office always accepts exactly what the PHSO tells it.

Maybe the fact that the PHSO judges the complaints against the
Information Commissioner’s Office has something to do with it?

=

The interest in this Decision is that apparently providing a link to a non-existent page is ‘proof’ of having provided the information.
Even though it has no data on it.

The decision and the complaint can be judged from the above.
Apparently providing the Information Commissioner’s Office with screnshot of the empty page wasn’t enough evidence.

And neither was that, logically , most members of the external communications team have to be public facing.

- Must be the only external communications team in the UK that doesn’t have to communicate externally.

:::

The last time the PHSO was ‘economical with the truth’ to the Information Commissioner’s Office, it ended up in court, with the tribunal making some pertinent comments on its FOIA operation.

http://informationrights.decisions.tribu...

===

Decision (including any steps ordered)
1. The complainant has submitted a request for an organogram of its public-facing staff to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (‘PHSO’). PHSO provided some general information, applied section 21(1) of the FOIA to other information (reasonably accessible information) and said it does not hold the specific information the complainant has requested.
2. The Commissioner’s decision is as follows:
• On the balance of probabilities PHSO does not hold the specific information the complainant has requested and has complied with section 1(1)(a) of the FOIA with regards to this information.
• The information that PHSO holds which is broadly related to the complainant’s request is exempt information under section 21(1).
3. The Commissioner does not require PHSO to take any remedial steps.
1On 6 July 2018 the complainant submitted a request to PHSO through the WhatDoTheyKnow website in the following terms:
“Please provide an ‘organisational family tree’ of the PHSO’s public facing officers with their job titles, together with an brief summary of their role and responsibilities.”
5. PHSO responded on 24 July 2018. It said it publishes an organogram with job titles/roles of public facing officers on its website within its publication scheme. It seemed to suggest it was providing a web link to that page. PHSO applied the exemption under section 21 of the FOIA to this information as it said the information was already accessible to the complainant. PHSO said it does not hold an organogram with a more detailed summary of roles and responsibilities.
6. The complainant wrote to PHSO 24 July 2018. She said the link that PHSO had appeared to provide did not work. The complainant also clarified that she was requesting an organogram that included all public facing officers, not just committee members and officers. Finally the complainant requested a brief description of public facing officers’ job descriptions, which she said she had originally requested.
7. On the same day PHSO responded. It confirmed that it had sent a link to the complainant and suggested it might not have appeared to be an active link due to it being sent through WhatDoTheyKnow. PHSO provided the full link and also provided a link to its publication scheme, from where PHSO said the departmental organograms it holds are available.

8. The complainant requested an internal review on 28 July 2018. She said she had requested information that PHSO holds on file and not what it had already published. PHSO provided a review on 13 September 2018. Having re-considered the matter PHSO confirmed that, with regard to the first element of the request, it does not in fact hold an organisational family tree of its ‘public facing offers’ and that there is no recorded information in relation to a role being specifically ‘public facing’.
9. PHSO acknowledged that, in line with its duty under section 16 of the FOIA to provide applicants with advice and assistance, it could have done more. PHSO then provided some broad information about the different teams within PHSO that deal with complaints and it summarised the particular roles within those teams. In the Commissioner’s view this satisfies the second element of the request for a brief summary of roles and responsibilities.
210. Finally, PHSO advised the complainant that if she required details of any position at PHSO she was able to make a request for a summary or job descriptions of any particular role.
11. Further correspondence between the complainant and PHSO followed until, on 12 October 2018, PHSO again advised that there is no recorded information in relation to a role being specifically ‘public facing’. It confirmed that it had provided a link to its departmental organograms (which indicates to the Commissioner that this is the only recorded information PHSO holds falling within the scope of the complainant’s request) and referred the complainant back to its response of 24 July 2018.
Scope of the case
12. The complainant contacted the Commissioner on 15 October 2018 to complain about the way her request for information had been handled.
13. The complainant confirmed that the focus of her complaint was that she disputes that PHSO does not hold an organogram of (all) its public facing staff, with job titles.
14. Having received and considered PHSO’s submission, and considered all the circumstances, the Commissioner’s assessment was that PHSO does not hold the requested information. She communicated her assessment to the complainant and invited the complainant to withdraw her complaint. The complainant preferred to progress to a decision notice. She remains unconvinced that PHSO does not hold the specific information she has requested. The complainant has also told the Commissioner that the link that PHSO provided does not work and so she has not been able to access particular information ie the departmental organograms.
15. The Commissioner’s investigation has focussed on whether PHSO complied with section 1(1) with regard to the specific information the complainant has requested. She has also considered whether PHSO can rely on section 21(1) with regard to other, broadly related, information that it holds.

Section 1 – general right of access to information held by public authorities
16. Under section 1(1) of the FOIA anyone who requests information from a public authority is entitled (a) to be told if the authority holds the information and (b) to have the information communicated to him or her if it is held and is not exempt information.
17. In its submission to the Commissioner PHSO has confirmed it does not hold the specific information the complainant has requested ie a detailed organogram of its public facing staff. It has also confirmed that it is not obliged to hold this information ie it has no reason to hold it.
18. PHSO says it provided the complainant with a link to the full (departmental) organograms it does hold. It confirmed that this particular information is therefore already reasonably accessible to the complainant online and is exempt information under section 21 of the FOIA. This is discussed further below.
19. PHSO goes on to say in its submission that at internal review it recognised that, although it does not hold an organogram of ‘public facing officers’, it does have teams who communicate with members of the public through its complaints process. PHSO says it had provided the complainant with a brief summary of roles within those teams in order to be helpful and to comply with section 16 of the FOIA. PHSO noted that it also advised the complainant that, should she wish to receive a summary or job description of any role contained within its published organogram, she could submit a new request for that.
20. In considering the request, PHSO says it made enquiries with its internal Human Resources department. This department is responsible for holding job descriptions for PHSO staff and would be the most likely team to hold information within the scope of the request. That department confirmed that the specific information the complainant has requested is not held.
21. The Commissioner has considered PHSO’s submission and has noted the points the complainant has made in correspondence to her. However these points focus on the complainant’s belief that PHSO should hold this information - that is an organogram of public facing staff – in order to function effectively. As she advised the complainant, the Commissioner’s role is not to consider whether a public authority should hold information, but whether it does or does not hold information (on the balance of probabilities). In this case the Commissioner is satisfied
that PHSO does not hold the specific information the complainant has requested.
Section 21 – information accessible to the applicant by other means
22. Under section 21(1) of the FOIA information which is reasonably accessible to an applicant otherwise than under section 1 is exempt information.
23. Section 21 provides an absolute exemption. This means that if the requested information is held by the public authority, and it is reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means, it is not subject to the public interest test.
24. PHSO applied section 21 to the departmental organograms that are published on its website. During her investigation the complainant has indicated to the Commissioner that she has not been able to access this information through the links that PHSO provided to her.
25. As detailed above, on 24 July 2018 PHSO provided two web links to its published departmental organograms to the complainant through WhatDoTheyKnow. It provided what it described as “the full link” and also provided a link to its publication scheme, from where PHSO said the departmental organograms it holds are available.
26. The Commissioner has noted that the first of these links leads to a page that is now unavailable. However, the second link leads to PHSO’s publication scheme from where, under the headings ‘Who we are and what we do’ and ‘Organisation chart’, the departmental organograms are available1. The Commissioner has also subsequently visited PHSO’s website directly and was again able to access its departmental organograms from through that route.
27. The Commissioner has reviewed the complainant’s correspondence with PHSO up to 12 October 2018. She has noted that although the complainant may have advised the Commissioner that a particular link did not work, the complainant did not advise PHSO at the time of the request that she had been unable to access the departmental organograms through the links PHSO had provided on 24 July 2018.

Taking a pragmatic approach, the Commissioner is satisfied that at least one of the links that PHSO provided was functioning at the time it was sent.

**********It wasn’t.

Really. Which one?

The page :
‘404

Sorry we can’t find the page you are looking for. We may have moved or deleted it. 

Please try searching again or email us at digital@ombudsman.org.uk 

and we’ll look into it for you. ‘

Given that the complainant clearly has access to the internet the Commissioner considers that it was reasonable for PHSO to assume that the organograms would be accessible to the complainant through its website.

* The complainant had not advised PHSO otherwise at the time of the request. The Commissioner therefore finds that PHSO can rely on section 21(1) with regard to this particular information.

===

Really? I didn’t state so?

Given that I’d provided a link to the wdtk request with my complaint, it appears that the ICO caseworker didn’t read this.....

24 July, 2018.
Dear InformationRights,
Response:
We publish an organogram with job titles/roles of public facing officers
on our website within our Publication Scheme [1]here. Therefore, Section
21(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been applied to this element of your request as this information is reasonably accessible by
other means.

1. Thank you but I need a little more information than:
‘Here’
Could you provide a link to ‘Here’ ... wherever it is, please.

==

Given that the Information Commissioner’s Office dates it’s easy to find....

Try googling ‘PHSO ORGANIGRAM’

1. The first four hits are similar wdtk requests, which means there is public need for this data,

2. The fifth is an out-of- date 2015 organigram.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Bet you never thought things could get worse at PHSO. But they have! Pull up the drawbridge the public are trying to hold us to account!

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"...but this Tribunal add that the Appellant has satisfied us that the need for her persistence, in its various forms as it transpired on the facts, is justified by the failure of the public authority to respond more comprehensively, effectively, efficiently or adequately."

Not an "obsessive" request after all! It is greatly concerning that the Commissioner can be so wrong.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO lied to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

- When the first caseworker attempted to investigate the facts of my complaint, the PHSO closed her down.

Basically saying none of her business to ask it questions.

Then PHSO stated I’d made over 100 requests ( it must be on the same subject - one of the qualifications for vexation).

Unfortunately for the PHSO, my requests were logged on Wdtk.

So my statement on my requests was publically provable.

The Information Commissioner’s Office asked then to prove the allegation, it couldn’t.

Just sent a ‘sample’ of my request, not on the same subject ( would you believe) ..Hoping that would do.

-Collapse if Information Commissioner’s Office lawyer’s case.

His face must have face dropped considerably.

Plus it was evident many of the request showed that the PHSO playing silly games by extending deadlines, misquoting stuff etc.

And reviewing stuff three times. The usual PHSO techniques.

Presumably they thought my wdtk requests weren't admissible in court.

But once they’d accused me of making ‘over 100 requests) .....of course they were.

The QC at the Tribunal ‘got it in five’ as they say.

That’s why the court was so critical of the PHSO in its write up.

Because the PHSO just wasted public money and the courts time ....on a purely ‘vanity’ vexation.

And tried to back up its case it by using threatening arrogant tactics.

It must be the worst public organisation in the UK....

And it seems, after all these years, it’s hasn’t improved a bit.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Thanks for posting a link to your DN. Anyone faced with an obstructive public authority would benefit from reading it. It's excoriating.

“This failure to properly or adequately respond to this request led to confusion and frustration and a break down in communications such that the Appellant did not seek or deserve.”

Another decision that might interest some is this refusal by a UT judge to grant a public authority permission to appeal:

http://www.englandhighways.co.uk/190211-...

The argument that the FTT didn't take account of the number of requests submitted by Mr Swift was found to be 'unsustainable'.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The key is to keep your temper ...even if you KNOW they are lying.

The Tribunal remarked they wondered how I’d kept mine...but I was used to it working 17 years in public communications.

( Because they could see the efforts made to ‘play’ me - In the evidence),

People who haven’t had similar background will be angry, they feel it personally, so inclined to make accusations .
Which maybe true, but which they can’t prove, so it’s a waste of time.

Indeed organisations - like the PHSO - will try to entrap people towards vexatiousness.

Remember, if it ends up in court, you can offer their ‘game playing’ as YOUR evidence.

And courts really don’t like their time and public money wasted by public authorities.

So under any sort of vexing fire, think ‘it may be deliberate’...

And be eminently reasonable ...and keep cool.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Whom the public authorities would destroy, they first makes mad!

In Mr Swift's case, his use of WDTK was also added to the toxic mix of allegations against him:

“10. Furthermore, the Commissioner saw this as “patently a classic case of Appellant acting in concert”, as he accepts that he operates a website whereby he circulates information in relation to these issues, and comments on FOIA requests on this subject on the “WhatDoTheyKnow” website.”

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/GRC...

It's a similar story to yours:

“18. We find that the failure to recognise and process the requestswas principally caused by inadequate or inaccurate responses by the personnel within Public Authority. We find this to be the cause of what came to be described as “Obsessive behaviour” on the part of the requestor, which in our view, in all the circumstances was not manifestly unreasonable.”

The Commissioner's car-crash DN:

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The most amusing bit of evidence the PHSO used against me accusing me of vexation was that I’d ‘joined phsothefacts’.

That scurrilous terrorist group.

In fact, I’d helped set it up (for Della), by asking all those questioning the PHSO on wdtk if they wanted to join a new group... they did. .....Not surprisingly.

And I’d written a piece on FOIA for the new membership - and that was about it.
Technically, I wasn't member at the time of my alleged vexatious behaviour.
Which I could evidence in court.

But it proved that the PHSO could not brook any criticism, or, indeed , supported for free speech.

Incredible in a quasi- judicial body....

Which arrogantly had no idea that it couldn’t still shut people up once complainants got together on social media.

So beware, membership of this group maybe used as evidence that you are vexatious.

Next step...Thinking critical thoughts.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Section 14 really is the Joker in the FOIA pack. If membership of a respected pressure group like phsothefacts can be used by the PHSO as 'evidence' of a request being vexatious then we are all being played for fools by both the PHSO and the ICO.
Section 14 was built into the FOIA as the great 'get out of jail free card', which allows authorities and the ICO to brush off legitimately tenacious requestors and equally to hide serious wrongdoing in public office.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Luckily.. I had a LEGAL ace ...which came in time for court.

The PHSO hadn’t banked on the external investigator backing me.

So I could include his summary of its appalling botch up within my evidence, since the PHSO had actually stated -as evidence - that I had NO chance of winning it...so logically I was therefore vexatious.

The court couldn’t really argue that my requests were vexatious... after I’d had to keep going via Foia requests to GET my case to an intelligent legal expert ....Who agreed with me.

GHOSTING

My requests were also trying to find a way for other people to get their complaints about the service logged, over and above the tin-eared and frankly careless and incapable review team, who were consistently failing to respond to complainants’ emails.

By logging these complaints via a central point, so it couldn’t be stated that the PHSO (review team) had not received them.

Who knew where they ended up ...as complainants couldn’t get replies.

===

VEX STRATEGY

I agree - Vexes are a clever way of faulting people - by deliberately making the public angry... by ignoring time elements and proper FOIA responses..... And they fall for it.

They get angry and go off topic. Start making it personal....which is the absolutely worst thing you can do.

The authority can then claim their employees were harassed ...almost fainting in the office in sheer terror. ETC.

Easy win.

But my tribunal result stated that the PHSO had NOT given any evidence of the results of this terrible harassment on FOIA employees. So it lost on this point too.

No doubt the PHSO has upped It’s evidence of the fragile vulnerability of its employees to requesters angry insistence of getting a sensible reply by now.

==
FRIVOLITY

It seemed to me that, after the Dransfield case and it’s outcome, it was suddenly open season for vexations on any tricky requests which the Information Commissioner’s Office then stamped.

Without the stats, I have no evidence that there has been a rise in vex cases lately but I would add, that if they can’t get you positioned on a vex, they will state you are ‘frivolous’

I’ve twice been declared ‘frivolous’ on sensible requests by the ICO.

One was absolutely ridiculous - as I’d spent ages on the phone with one caseworker who told me her personal problems. And how bad the Information Commissioner’s Office equipment was.

- It’s no use asking for another caseworker..even after they’ve demonstrated a complete lack of a grip on a complaint by the way. So at that point you will know there won’t be any fair investigation of your complaint.

The other frivolity request had no apparent frivolity logic that I could find. Because it boils down to the caseworker, or their managers, personal opinion.

==

YOU'RE STUCK

Its also no use complaining to the Information Commissioner’s Office of the frivolity-alleging caseworker is in one particular team. They will ALWAYS. be in the right- WITHOUT having to give ANY reasons for your ‘frivolity’.

It’s a personal opinion-based accusation - not based on any discernible frivolous facts, which equals an easy close down on any tricky request.

==

CAN’T BE CHALLENGED ..

It is certainly NOT appropriate for any public body to allow its employees to use personal opinion to stop access public access to information, rather than apply FOIA rules.

....Yet it seemingly can’t be stopped.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Totally agree with what you say Jt Oakley.

One other important point is that which may 'vex' one person may not 'vex' another. It is a largely subjective concept. One particular tribunal may decide that a request is vexatious, but a differently constituted tribunal may not. It is therefore pot-luck to SOME extent whether a tribunal decide a case is vexatious or not. This subjectivity applies to Section 14 much more than it applies to other sections of the FOIA - even those that include a public interest balancing test. In the final analysis, whether your request is refused as vexatious or not may well depend on the sensitivities of each tribunal panel member.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

A classic example of this subjectivity is the difference between persistence and obsessive behaviour. Obsessive behaviour is always characterised by the ICO and tribunals as 'bad'. If someone is obsessed with obtaining justice for themselves and the wider society, why is that always 'bad'? I think it is simply wrong to say that obsessive behaviour is always wrong - and according to the ICO it is always wrong, because it is one of their descriptors of vexatious behaviour.
If the FOIA had existed at the time of the anti-slavery movement in the UK, those fighting for its abolition would most certainly have been shouted-down and defeated by virtue of their 'obsessive behaviour' -being obsessed by justice.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Excellent explanation.

The other difficulty is if you are a working journalist- as I was.

Does the ‘obsession’ include chasing down the truth, or not?

Are you entitled to ask more than once..if you suspect that the organisation is not being entirely truthful as, LOGICALLY , data must exist?

The Information Commissioner’s Office always seems to believe that the organisation is entirely truthful.

And if, at a later date, you get the withheld data ( which I did) ..data which, according to the organisation ‘didn’t exist’.... it makes no apologies......The public is always In the wrong.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

FOI Man on section 14:

https://www.foiman.com/wp-content/upload...

The Welsh government on how to get out of not having information it should have but doesn't (FS50865468) :

“30. Taking account of all the circumstances of this case The Commissioner is prepared to accept the Welsh Government’s position that the only explanation for the absence of document in question is that it has been inadvertently lost or deleted in error and this was only brought to light following receipt of the request in this case. As such, the Welsh Government is unable to explain why or when the information was lost or deleted in error.”

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

"[I]nadvertently lost or deleteted in error" = THE END.

An FTT example:

“18. There is a mismatch between the information provided by the Trust in 2016 as compared to the information provided in response to this Request. The Trust previously stated there was one incident recorded in 2010. No information about staff incidents in 2010 has been disclosed in response to the Request in the “from staff” document, or in the “from patients” document. On the evidence we have it appears that not all held information has been provided. We therefore find on the balance of probabilities that the Trust does hold additional information about staff complaints in 2010. The Trust should provide this additional information to the appellant, or explain how this information has already been provided, or explain why this information is not held.”

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/GRC...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Ah ....the WRIGHTINGTON WIGAN AND LEIGH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST strikes again.

I made a request to them on the number of foreign patients using it’s service... and if it ever got paid, since there was a deficit.

And what a lot of Wriggling around to avoid replying that was.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

The Trust’s Excuse: ‘I hope that you will appreciate that we have to balance many competing demands on our budget and that patient care is always our highest priority’.

==

- THE medical staff respond to FOIA requests???

Me:

Thank you for your apology.
You may like to note that other NHS trusts do not ' scold' requesters for making FOIA requests - due to the expense of response. Or imply that money being taken away from patient care.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

Eventually got an answer.... but by the next year it had amazingly reduced its outgoings to nil.

==

Second highest in the country for wrong diagnosis too.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic...

.....Must be the lack of those nursing staff teams diverted to responding to FOIA enquiries.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

“The most amusing bit of evidence the PHSO used against me accusing me of vexation was that I’d ‘joined phsothefacts’.”

I remembered what you wrote when reading this recent FTT decision (EA/2019/0347):

http://informationrights.decisions.tribu...

“14. … He is a member of the Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum,which has been designated as a recognised statutory body ...and they represent the interests of circa 5,000 villagers. The Forum have made a request for information also and have been refused on the basis that the Appellant is named as a member.”

The Commissioner wrote him off as an obsessive:

6. ...the Appellant’s pursuit of information on this subject to show an “unreasonable persistence” and an“obsessive quality”, and any serious purpose to the request had been diminished by the fact that it had “already been answered”.

The Tribunal thought different:

“16. ...We have read the correspondence in the OB carefully and find that the tone is not particularly objectionable and not likely to cause offence. The correspondence generally demonstrates proper purpose and real concern even if on occasion, with a degree of frustration. In all the circumstances we do not accept that the subject request is manifestly unreasonable.”

Link to dodgy DN:

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Agreed.

The Information Commissioner’s Office seems to go along with the idea that if you join a pressure group, you are subversive ...and therefore a potentially dangerous person.

And MUST BE STOPPED.

Worrying, as the UK generally has Freedom of Speech.

It seems to be a fairly new departure ...to the control of British opinion.

PLUS there were 4,999c others in his group.

People don’t support groups in those numbers UNLESS there is a problem.

....And people aren’t normally over-interested in sewage.

SEWAGE !

Thank goodness the courts are overturning these over-restrictive, protective nonsense Decisions.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Yes, but they are not overturning these decisions nearly often enough.

Authorities all too often used the burdensome excuse to refuse a request as vexatious, when properly section 12 of the FOIA should be applied and tested. Why? Because the very second an authority uses the word and accusation of 'vexatious' the ICO always agree. 'Vexatious' refusal was built into the FOIA and similarly the EIR simply in order to allow authorities and the ICO to summarily dismiss persistent and valuable FOI requests and to silence legitimate enquiry.
An authority merely has to be 'upset' by a request to refuse it as vexatious, and the current snowflake world view has only exacerbated this problem. If an authority is doing something seriously wrong, they need only go blubbing to the ICO saying that they are 'upset' for the ICO to say there, there pet, we will sort out those who request fairness and justice and shut them up good and proper.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Tony Blair was elected in 1997 on a manifesto pledge to finally introduce a freedom of information act. The rest of the world had had an FOIA for many, many years. When in office Mr Blair tried to get out of this promise, but unable to do so he made sure that the FOIA would have so many exemptions built into it (including section 14) that it was already a sinking ship before it was even launched in 2000. This enfeebled FOIA was further neutered by the creation of the Information Commissioner's Office whose role was to effect a refusal of information regime and not a freedom of information regime. A further example of this is the ICO's persistent attempt to illegally convert qualified exemptions into absolute exemptions, for example making section 42 - legal professional privilege - into an absolute exemption.
We have probably the weakest FOI regime in the civilised world and it is becoming weaker by the day and our liberal democracy is being undermined by this.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The Information Commissioner’s Office leant on organisation to vex, after the Dransfield verdict

https://panopticonblog.com/2015/05/14/ve...

Before that, Vexing seemed to be a way to stop members of the public from wasting public money by trying to win unwinnable cases. Which was fair,

The Information Commissioner’s Office uses it to stop requesters from asking the same Q ..even though the information must LOGICALLY exist.

It’s now target oriented .. get the cases through ASAP to look impressive, instead of trying to get a just result - by pointing out that logically data must exist, even when organisations swear blind that it doesn’t.

And I’ve detected that certain caseworkers take an almost gleeful approach to upholding a vex.
They enjoy their little power.. because seemingly they aren’t really scrutinised.

And if they can’t give any explanation why a request merits a vex , they declare it ‘frivolous’.

Even if you ask them for their reasoning on this ‘frivolity’ they do not give you an answer, because it’s only their opinion and a quick way of getting you off the books .

Frivolous cases should be stuff like asking councils if they are prepared for unicorn attacks,.

Not normal FOIA requests on organisational data held.

So IMO the professionalism that caseworkers used to have..and some still do, has been reduced to a rather spiteful and desperate level of a non-professional opinion of caseworkers, who often don’t know anything about the background of the request that you are making.

And just want to hit the case targets they’ve been given, without ANY. thought of how they are diminishing the FOIA and the public - who are paying for this fast supermarket checkout belt of half investigated cases.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

“Authorities all too often used the burdensome excuse to refuse a request as vexatious, when properly section 12 of the FOIA should be applied and tested. Why? Because the very second an authority uses the word and accusation of 'vexatious' the ICO always agree.”

Another recent EIR example (EA/2019/0365):

http://informationrights.decisions.tribu...

The Request:

“Can you send me the advice given to [named councillor] referenced in the email below please. Can you also provide me with all formal and informal advice offered to councillors who sit on the planning committee with regard to meeting members of the public.”

The Council refused to respond because it:

“3. ...would require an unreasonable diversion of resources from the Council’s core activities...”

The Tribunal's view:

“20. In relation to the councillor who communicated with the Appellant it will be a simple matter for the Council to acknowledge whether it holds the information or not....It seems to us that responding to the first part of the request will not be onerous....”

“21. In relation to the second part of the request ... our initial thoughts are that this would entail asking members of the planning committee at the time of the request, whether they have a record of advice received on the issue, and maybe identifying individual officers (like the Assistant Director) who may have given such advice.”

Link to dodgy DN (FS50833295):

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

The public would indeed benefit from the Commissioner pressing authorities a bit harder.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The interesting viewpoint for me is Point 39.

It’s often used by the Information Commissioner’s Office which seems to think that BECAUSE you have personal knowledge of the internal workings of the council, and may have sniffed out a certain councillor isn't playing by the rules , that somehow is a point against you.

How dare you make an FOIA request for your own purposes!

But what about pressure groups ..such as phsothefacts, where membership is ALSO used against you?

So who is it - exactly - the Information Commissioner’s Office approves of making FOIA requests?, which should be ‘blind’ anyway.

Presumably people who have little knowledge, or personal interest in the way Public authorities work for us.. And are entirely dispassionate?

==

One person’s personal knowledge gained can be relevant to all members of the public , if say that person proves that a member of the council is acting erroneously.

The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled against me , stating I was using an FOIA request for me own benefit.

I was asking what was the procedure for changing boundaries.

But without seeing a boundary changed and wondering Why,? How? ...why would it if been of any interest to me?

In effect I was ’frivolous’ for asking . And certainly there was no data available because the Land Registry said so.

the Land Registry eventually coughed up its ’non-existent’ procedures, which ARE of interest to ANY member of the public who wonders the same thing. That’s huge scale.

Indeed, I’ve been thanked for getting them and told the data is absolutely of use, as the Land Registry had been stating the same thing for years. - There were NO LR instructions on boundary changing.

Which HAD to exist. It’s Logically done every day.

No apology from the Information Commissioner’s Office of course.

- Apparently it doesn't ever do apologies...even if you prove it has been totally illogically wrong,

=

So the ICO continues to use paragraph 39 on anyone it’s caseworkers THINK shouldn’t be asking questions in which they have a personal interest.

I find that an elitist and protectionist view.

’ You’re a pleb with an interest in this data.

‘How DARE you be so impertinent as to try and find out how your money is spent?’

- Isn’t that what the FOIA is all about?

The Freedom to ask?

M Boyce left an annotation ()

I don't agree that the ICO only refuses those requests as vexatious that ask for the same information. Very few people would ask for the same information in successive FOI requests.

A particularly prescient sentence occurs in the preface to 'Blackstone's Guide to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (2005 ed.):

'His [the ICO] role, particularly in balancing the public interests in disclosure and non-disclosure, will be CRUCIAL in ensuring that the Act [FOIA] becomes an effective tool for public openness.'

The ICO are clearly not fairly balancing the public interest test, as they nearly always favour non-disclosure. Both the FOIA and the EIR have an inbuilt presumption in favour of disclosure, but the ICO has an opposite and much stronger inbuilt presumption in favour of exemption. This fact is there for all to see in the ICO's DN's and the fact that not infrequently the First-tier Tribunal disagrees with the ICO's decisions that favour exemption.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Agree, it’s certainly tipped its scales against the public.

Started off so well too.

Now it’s completely target driven and proper investigations take time.

So it just takes the easiest path.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

It took a long time to provide the multiple job titles at the PHSO. Wouldn't it be more cost effective for the public purse, if all roles could be grouped together. Renamed as Plebs for example. It's a more appropriate descriptor and a great cost saving for the public.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

A bit tricky all round ...as the PHSO, seems to be a revolving door of job titles and replacement if people working in them.

Detailing a Who’s Who is like painting the Forth Bridge..