'Vextious' requests from a person...
Mark Salter made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.
Dear Department for Communities and Local Government,
In your response to my recent FOIR:-
you kindly provided a copy of your previous letter to 'Derek Tickles' :-
which included a link to the ICO guidance on vexatious requests.
I have read through the guidance you are using but find nothing that allows your office to consider a person as vexatious, so please can you provide:-
- the information you hold that permits your office to refuse requests from a person (or people).
especially since your stance seems contrary to these ICO guidance you say they are using?
Just for context, the guidance states:-
"Note that it is the request that can be considered vexatious, not the requestor;"
Your office may not therefore block people from asking for information but instead refuse to answer if:-
- would cost too much to comply;
- is vexatious or repeated; or
the information is exempt from disclosure under one
of the exemptions in the Act.
In order to comply with the guidance, your office must consider the content of a request, not the person ; you must also always provide a properly structured refusal response.
There are a few well defined reasons to refuse requests (including a 60 day running total of the cost of *replying*), but none of them based upon the person making them - and it would seem none of them apply to the varied requests that 'Derek Tickles' has made of your department over time.
Whilst I appreciate that the content or manner of 'Derek Tickles' requests are sometimes cutting or perhaps meant to be funny, the ICO guidance and the FOI act itself must always be followed.
Dear Mr Salter
Please see the attached response to your request for information of 31
December 2011, together with one attachment.
Department for Communities and Local Government
Knowledge and Information Access
D/06 Ashdown House
St. Leonards on sea
Tel: 0303 44 41025
Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.
Dear Martin Harding,
thank you for your reply to my request.
I would like to initially say that I still do think your approach of refusing to reply to requests from a name is incorrect.
The ICO guidance does not allow you to simply ignore ignore requests from an individual even if you might consider them vexatious *after* you have considered them. To simply not respond and possibly not even consider there contents is not acceptable; instead you must...
consider each request own it's own basis,
if it is really vexatious then you :-
must issue a refusal notice to the requester within 20 working days. The refusal notice should state that you are relying on section 14(1) or 14(2) and give details of your internal review procedures and the right to appeal to the ICO.
you have already given the same person a refusal notice for a previous vexatious or repeated request; *and* it would be unreasonable to issue another one.
Replying to an email request that you consider vexatious is not unreasonable, might I suggest a prepared reply with the mandated components included is the best way to go?
Certainly responses like:-
do not contain the mandated components and take the same effort to provide (perhaps more) than a complete and proper Refusal Notice.
I know you know this already, but...
WhatDoTheyKnow.com is a terribly useful website and unfortunately the view from this service is that your organisation appears to be conducting itself badly especially if you consider requests that have been left hanging:-
Now whilst you might have referenced these requests within other responses you have given you are not correctly following the ICO guidance in responding to the correct "return address" for these emailed requests which is the unique email assigned to each request submitted through whatdotheyknow.com.
Might I suggest that you visit your Department's list on whatdotheyknow.com and correctly answer and respond to each outstanding request :-
hopefully particular attention to those with a status of "Delayed", "Long overdue", "Awaiting internal review" - for these especially ones that are also very old.
You may be surprised that there are significant numbers of these cases going back as far as the 26th March 2008, not very many from 'Derek Tickles'!
This process might feel onerous, but it will certainly help to balance and perhaps correct the public view on how your department is conducting themselves in handling Freedom of Information requests; I suspect it will also save you time and effort going forward.
I hope you can make the effort to assess the whatdotheyknow.com website carefully and thank you again for your time, patience and attention you have provided me.
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