Protecting Human Rights in Care Proceedings.

LS Palmer (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Buckinghamshire County Council

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 refused by Buckinghamshire County Council.

LS Palmer (Account suspended)

Dear Buckinghamshire County Council,

1. Since 1 April 2009 how many applications for a Care Order have been made by the Local Authority?

2. At the date of replying, how many children are in the care of the Local Authority under:

a. A S31 Order
b. A S20 Order

3. How many of the applications for a Care Order made since 1 April 2009 have resulted in:

a. A Supervision Order
b. A Care Order - Permanent Foster Care/Care Home
c. An Adoption Order.
d. A Special Guardianship Order - placed with family
e. No Order

4. In relation to 3b, 3c and 3d how many of the parents had:

a. Been convicted of a criminal offence against their children
b. Had the benefit of a residential family assessment

5. In relation to 3c how many applications for freeing orders were made?

6. In relation to question 1. how many of the parents had made an official complaint against children's services prior to the commencement of care proceedings?

Yours faithfully,

LS Palmer

Doling, Neil, Buckinghamshire County Council

Dear LS Palmer

Thank you for contacting Buckinghamshire County Council.

This email is to confirm receipt of your request.

Neil Doling
Freedom of Information Officer and Modern Records Manager
Freedom of Information Team
[Buckinghamshire County Council request email]
01296 383960 (or 01296 382907)
Buckinghamshire County Council
County Hall
Walton Street
HP20 1UU

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Freedom of Information Mailbox, Buckinghamshire County Council

Dear Sir/Madam


Thank you for contacting Buckinghamshire County Council.

Your, and others, requests for information have now been considered and our response is as follows:

We are sorry but your, and others, requests for information, as they stand, will not be processed further.

Section 12 of the FOIA provides that public authorities are not obliged to respond to a request or the same or similar requests, from one person or persons acting together, for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request, or requests, would exceed the "appropriate limit", (Section 12(4) - ".where two or more requests for information are made to a public authority. by one person, or.different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign, the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them").

The appropriate limit for local authorities as stated in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 is currently £450. This is calculated as being work resulting in up to 18 hours of staff time at £25 per hour. Accordingly, where a request or aggregated requests is/are likely to take longer than 18 hours to answer, the authority is not compelled to respond.

The Council reasonably estimates that the aggregated costs of providing (indeed, searching for) the information that you alone and, additionally, others acting together, have requested well exceeds the appropriate limit (individually and together).

We would note that there are 40 separate (and sometimes very detailed) questions contained in these requests, many of which would take several hours to respond to on their own. Accordingly, we believe that it is self evident, from the nature and breadth of these requests, that an estimate of the cost of determining whether the requested information is held would be above the appropriate limit, therefore, we are not required to conduct searches for the information at this stage, as carrying out searches alone would exceed the appropriate limit - please see Randall v Information Commissioner and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, where the Tribunal stated that "the effect of section 12 is not to impose a limit, leaving the authority obliged to carry out work up to that limit; it is to remove the information from the scope of the section 1 duty to disclose altogether".

We think that the nature of your, and others, extensive requests show clearly that your, and others, requests (both individually and together), in their current format, will require searches of much more than 18 hours to determine whether we hold the information requested. For example:

Some of the questions asked drill down to very specific aspects of care and would require interrogation of each child's record to establish the information requested e.g. at the end of 2010, there were 2105 cases held on ICS (our Children's database), and it is reasonably estimated that it would take approximately 3 minutes per record to establish just one specific detail (bearing in mind that your requests ask for numerous specific details covering several years). 2105 cases at 3 minutes each equates to approximately 105 hours.

Aggregation of requests

The test for aggregation, of same or similar requests, under Regulation 5 of the Fees Regulations is very wide. The requests need only relate to any extent to the same or similar information. Requests will be similar where there is an overarching theme or common thread running between them in terms of the nature of the information that has been requested. Please see Ian Fitzsimmons and Department for Culture, Media and Sport where the Tribunal made the following general observation at paragraph 43:

"The test in Regulation 5 of the Fees Regulations seems to us to be very wide; the requests need only relate to any extent to the same or similar information [Tribunal emphasis]".

We would note that there is a common thread running between your, and others, requests in terms of the nature of the information that has been requested i.e. social care for children and families. We have also taken note of other information publicly available on the 'whatdotheyknow' website. Moreover, we have also taken into account information revealed by some of the requests themselves, which suggest that the requests are similar in terms of their references to dates, wording and subject matter.

Taking the above into account, it is reasonably estimated that the authority will incur costs substantially in excess of £450.00 on the following activities in complying with your, and others, requests:

. Determining whether we hold the information requested,
. Locating the information, or a document containing it,
. Retrieving the information, or a document containing it, and
. Extracting the information from a document containing it.

Accordingly, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this email acts as a Refusal Notice under Section 12(1).

Nevertheless, you and others may wish to refine and resubmit your requests so that it reduces the overall cost to within the "appropriate limit". For instance, you and others may wish to:

1) Specify a narrower timeframe for your requests,
2) Narrow the information requested or reduce the number of questions asked,
3) Identify which areas are priorities and request that the Council respond to these queries up to the appropriate limit.

Given that it would be inappropriate for the Council to make assumptions as to what information most interests you and others, we would need you to state which elements of your requests are of the most interest/importance to you.

Please contact us if you would like to establish a dialogue to explore available options for refining/narrowing your, and others, requests or advice as to what information could be provided within the time allowed by the appropriate limit.

If you have any further queries or concerns then please contact us.

If you have a complaint about the handling of your request then please use the Council's complaints procedure (at Stage 3) in the first instance. This is available at:
Or by writing to:
FOI Monitoring Officer
Head of Legal and Democratic Services
Buckinghamshire County Council
County Hall
HP20 1UA
Or via email: [Buckinghamshire County Council request email]

You can also then complain to the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Tel: 0303 123 1113
Fax: 01625 524510
Email: [email address]

Freedom of Information Team
[Buckinghamshire County Council request email]
Buckinghamshire County Council
County Hall
Walton Street
HP20 1UU

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