Policy regarding information release from services delegated from local authorities

Joe Turner made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would like the following information:

Any guidance, reports, policy documents or any other information which may be related to whose responsibility it is to collect and respond to FOI requests for local authority services which they have chosen to delegate to a third party.

For example, many local authorities have chosen to delegate management of allotment sites to non-pubic bodies, such as local committees. Can local authorities refuse to release information on the basis that a third party is responsible for the management of their allotments and/or are local allotment committees deemed to be public bodies for the purposes of the FOI Act 2000?

Yours faithfully,

Joe Turner

Information Commissioner's Office

Link: [1]File-List

26th October 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0356695

Dear Mr Turner

Thank you for your email of 25 October 2010 in which you have made a
request for information to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Your request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.  We will respond by 22 November 2010 which is 20
working days from the day after we received your request.

Should you wish to reply to this email, please be careful not to amend the
information in the ‘subject’ field. This will ensure that the
information is added directly to your case. However, please be aware that
this is an automated process; the information will not be read by a member
of our staff until your case is allocated to a request handler.

Yours sincerely

Joanne Crowley

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

show quoted sections

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

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/rad40DC9_files/filelist.xml

Margaret Campbell left an annotation ()

Good question. See the request below for allotment data on privately managed council-owned allotment sites. The requestor said that "As the Allotment Societies are delegated powers by the Council, the requested information is precisely the type of information envisaged by the Act which needs to be made public to allow proper transparency and ensure the Committees are exercising their powers fairly and appropriately." It worked for that request.
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/al...

Joe Turner left an annotation ()

Thanks - it seems a common excuse from councils to avoid releasing information about allotments.

Information Commissioner's Office

1 Attachment

Link: [1]File-List

22 November 2010

Case Reference Number IRQ0356695

Dear Mr Turner

I am writing further to our email dated 29 October 2010, in which we
acknowledged your request for information to the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Your request has been considered under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA).

In your email of 25 October 2010, you asked for:

“Any guidance, reports, policy documents or any other information which
may be related to whose responsibility it is to collect and respond to FOI
requests for local authority services which they have chosen to delegate
to a third party”.

You further clarified the context of your request by explaining that

For example, many local authorities have chosen to delegate management of
allotment sites to non-pubic bodies, such as local committees. Can local
authorities refuse to release information on the basis that a third party
is responsible for the management of their allotments and/or are local
allotment committees deemed to be public bodies for the purposes of the
FOI Act 2000?

In response, I can advise that we do not hold any guidance, reports or
policy documents in relation to the specific circumstances you have
identified. As you might appreciate, we do hold guidance information and
policy documents in relation to the broader issue of a public authorities
responsibilities’ when responding to FOI requests, but I have not
interpreted your request as for this more general advice, only for
information in relation to when “they have chosen to delegate to a third
party”.

As you might be aware, for the purposes of FOI, information is said to be
held by a public authority if—

(a) it is held by the authority, otherwise than on behalf of another
person, or

(b) it is held by another person on behalf of the authority.

By way of background explanation it would therefore appear that in the
circumstances you have outlined, the key factor would be whether the
information was held on behalf of the authority. As you may appreciate,
this may well be different on a case to case basis. 

Please find below a link to a Decision Notice the ICO issued in a case
where the Commissioner investigated what, if any, information was held by
the Council and what information was held, on behalf of the Council by the
contractor.

[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/d...

Finally, I note that your request included a request for “any other
information which may be related…” this issue.

Whilst we may have further information relating to your request contained
within complaints within our electronic casework management system, this
system is not set up to easily provide us with the type of information you
have requested. By and large this is not the sort of information we would
need for our own day to day business purposes.

The system allows us to search for the cases we have dealt with in a
number of different ways, such as by the unique reference number the case
was given, the name and address of the person who contacted us and the
name of any organisation or individual that has been complained about. We
can also search for cases on the basis of the broad nature of the
complaint, but I can only search on a limited number of fixed criteria
which are structured around the main sections of the FOI.

A public authority (such as the Information Commissioner’s Office) is
not obliged to comply with an FOIA request if the authority estimates that
the cost of complying with the request would exceed the ‘appropriate
limit'. The ‘appropriate limit’ for the Information Commissioner’s
Office, as determined in the ‘Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004’ is £450. We have
determined that £450 would equate to 18 hours work.

Unfortunately, I am not able to conduct an electronic search specifically
for complaints about the issue where information is held on behalf of a
public authority. We would need to search each case to determine the
nature of the complaint to establish if it was comparable to the
circumstances of your request.  As at 22 November 2010 this office had
received 14116 FOI complaints. If it took on average 5 minutes to search
for those that had supporting documents this would equate to over 1176
hours which would be well in excess of the 18 hours which would accrue a
charge of £450 or less.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received and wish to
request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how your
request has been handled you should write to the Internal Compliance Team
at the address below or e-mail [3][email address]

Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such request
received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.

If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation.  To make such an application, please write
to the Case Reception Team, at the address below or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information
Act or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.

 

A copy of our review procedure is attached.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Walsh

Lead Internal Compliance Officer

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

T. 01625 545363 [4]www.ico.gov.uk

show quoted sections

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

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/rad21AEB_files/filelist.xml
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/d...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. blocked::http://www.ico.gov.uk/
http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Denarsha left an annotation ()

Is there any way that Joe Turner could be contacted? I would like to discuss with you your situation. I am a plot holder and do not work for the council.