Serious case reviews/child death inquiries – Carmarthenshire

The request was refused by Carmarthenshire Council.

Dear Carmarthenshire Council,

Please send me electronic copies of all serious case reviews or child death inquiries (otherwise or also known as Part 8 Reviews) conducted by the Local [Carmarthenshire?] Safeguarding Children Board or by any other predecessor or successor body, which have been published since 1st January 2003 to date.

Please send copies of the Overview/Full Report; otherwise please send copies of the Executive Summaries. Where Executive Summaries only are available please provide reasons for absence of the overview/full report.

If none are available or are withheld please provide the reason for non-publication.

01.04.2017

Yours faithfully,

dai pugh

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mr Pugh,

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 1st April, 2017 and is being dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are therefore required to provide a response within 20 working days, which will be on or before 3rd May, 2017.

If we require clarification we will also contact you as soon as we can – please note that the timescale for response specified above may be subject to change if this is the case.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries, remembering to quote the reference number above in any communications.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth a Chwynion
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Information Governance & Complaints Team
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

show quoted sections

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mr Pugh,

I refer to your request for information, which was received on 1st April, 2017 and has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

The specific information you requested was as follows:

“Please send me electronic copies of all serious case reviews or child death inquiries (otherwise or also known as Part 8 Reviews) conducted by the Local [Carmarthenshire?] Safeguarding Children Board or by any other predecessor or successor body, which have been published since 1st January 2003 to date.

Please send copies of the Overview/Full Report; otherwise please send copies of the Executive Summaries. Where Executive Summaries only are available please provide reasons for absence of the overview/full report.”

In response, one such review was carried out by the Carmarthenshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) during the period covered by your request.

However, the LSCB was a statutory body in its own right, distinct from Carmarthenshire County Council. (Regional Safeguarding Boards replaced LSCBs in Wales by virtue of Part 7 of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014. The Mid & West Wales Regional Safeguarding Board (Cysur) now covers the counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Powys).

The LSCB/Cysur was/is an independent body, with a similar status to bodies such as the Coroner’s Office. Members of the Council’s staff, who sit as members of the Board, were provided with the review purely for the purpose of their work for the Board.

Where a public authority holds information solely on behalf of another person it is not held for the purposes of a request under FOIA. The review in question is not held for the Council's own purposes, rather it is for agencies and individuals to learn lessons to improve the way they work collectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Section 1(1) of the FOIA states that:

“Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled – (a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and (b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.”

Section 3(2) of the FOIA provides that:

“For the purpose of this Act, information is 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.”

In this case, information which is physically in the possession of the Council is held on behalf of the LSCB/Cysur and is therefore not held by the Council for the purposes of the FOIA.

It should also be noted that Carmarthenshire LSCB and its successor, Cysur were/are not classed as public authorities for the purposes of the FOIA.

As I am refusing to provide the requested information, please therefore consider this email as a formal notice of refusal under Section 17 of the Act.

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been handled, you can request a review by writing to:

The Head of Administration & Law
Carmarthenshire County Council
County Hall
Carmarthen
SA31 1JP

Email: [email address]

If you remain unhappy with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth a Chwynion
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Information Governance & Complaints Team
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

Dear Carmarthenshire Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Carmarthenshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Serious case reviews/child death inquiries – Carmarthenshire'.

Thank you for your response which is disappointing as far as disclosure of the requested information viz Serious Case Reviews [SCR’s] is concerned.

It is disturbing that SCR’s are not publicly available [even in anonymised format] and I note that Haringey Council in a response to a Robin Smith [Ref: 144095] dated 01.02.2013 disclosed three SCR’s plus an Executive Summary following a request going back to 01.01.1975.

In addition in a similar request to Pembrokeshire Council [01.04.2017/ref 638015] some material was disclosed or where it could be accessed [via website]. Pembrokeshire are a party to the Mid Wales LSCB/CYSUR?

I should be obliged if you would conduct a review not least to establish that

1. such information can be withheld from public scrutiny [including scrutiny by Council Members acting for their constituents or as Corporate Parents];

2. information [SCR’s] is only published by the selection or the discretion of non-public authorities, such as the Mid Wales LCSB/CYSUR which is/are nevertheless publicly/taxpayer funded, as to what information should be disclosed.

3. The SCR’s are reliant on information being provided to a Safeguarding Board eg the Mid Wales LCSB/CYSUR by the local authority and other agency services which may or may not be withheld from the Report writer.

4. The terms of reference for the SCR are drawn up by the agency services possibly limiting the probative and outcome value of any SCR.

Thank you in advance of your response/review.

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

Yours faithfully,

dai pugh

Robert Edgecombe, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Sir,

 

Your email of the 6^th May requesting an internal review in this matter
has been passed to me to deal with.

 

I will contact the relevant officers in the Council who deal with Serious
Case Reviews to establish the position and revert to you as soon as
possible and certainly by the 8^th June (20 working days from today)

 

Yours sincerely

Robert Edgecombe

Robert Edgecombe, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Sir,

I write further to my email of the 10th May and in particular your request for an internal review of your information request which was received on 1st April, 2017 and had been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

THE INFORMATION REQUEST

You requested the following information;

“Please send me electronic copies of all serious case reviews or child death inquiries (otherwise or also known as Part 8 Reviews) conducted by the Local [Carmarthenshire?] Safeguarding Children Board or by any other predecessor or successor body, which have been published since 1st January 2003 to date.

Please send copies of the Overview/Full Report; otherwise please send copies of the Executive Summaries. Where Executive Summaries only are available please provide reasons for absence of the overview/full report.”

OUR ORIGINAL RESPONSE

On the 2nd May the authority responded to confirm that one review had been carried out by the Carmarthenshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) during the period covered by your request.

However the authority refused to disclose that report or the executive summary on the grounds that the information was not held by the Council for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.

REVIEW REQUEST

On the 6th May 2017 you requested a review of that decision, citing occasions when other authorities had disclosed such information in the past and posing 4 issues that you would like the review to address.

MY DECISION

I can again confirm that during the period of your request one serious case review was carried out by the LSCB.

As set out in the original response, at the time of the review the LSCB was a statutory body in its own right, distinct from Carmarthenshire County Council. Part 7 of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 replaced LSCBs in Wales with Regional Safeguarding Boards. The Mid & West Wales Regional Safeguarding Board (Cysur) now covers the counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

The LSCB was an independent body and had a similar status to bodies such as the Coroner’s Office. As such, Council’s staff who sat as members of the Board were provided with the review purely for the purpose of their work for the Board.

As such I am satisfied that the review in question is not held for the Council's own purposes, rather it is held so as to enable agencies and individuals to learn lessons to improve the way they work collectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

I have therefore considered the relevant parts of the Freedom of Information Act, which I consider to be the following;

Section 1(1):

“Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled – (a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and (b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.”

Section 3(2):

“For the purpose of this Act, information is 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.”

As a result of the above I am satisfied that although the information you have requested is physically in the possession of the Council, it is in fact held on behalf of the LSCB and its successor and accordingly is not held by the Council for the purposes of the Act.

As such I uphold the original decision of the authority in this case.

Turning to the 4 issues identified within your review request. I am of the view that these are not valid requests for information under the Act nor are they relevant to the issues that I have to determine in order to decide whether or not to release the information that you have requested. As such I do not propose to address them.

If you remain unhappy with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours Faithfully

Dear Robert Edgecombe,

Thank you for your responses.

Bearing in mind the adjoining authority [Pembrokeshire] subject to the same restrictions, with a common police force and agencies, including CYSUR [safeguarding board] publishes at least the executive summaries of SCR's on its own website your responses are seemingly out of step with the expectations if not continuous drive that local authorities become more open and transparent.

Something Welsh Government and/or Minister will need to bear in mind if shared services between councils becomes a reality and considering which managers from which authority should be in charge.

Yours sincerely,

dai pugh

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