Why is the summary/title text of an FOIA request not part of the request?

Jt Oakley 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,

Why is he summary/title text of an FOIA request not part of a request?

I make this request to clarify the content of FOIA requests.

This ICO decision states that the TITLES ( or summaries as WDTK describes titles) of requests do not form part of requests.

'18. However, the Commissioner’s view is that the title is immaterial, as this is not part of the request'

I rang the ICO Office to check that exclusion of all summaries/ titles is indeed the fact - and that be been wrong on my assumptions - and was categorically assured that summaries/ titles are NEVER considered as being any part of any FOIA requests. Whether sent via WDTK, or by other means.

And play no part in defining their scope.

Yet I had presumed that the summary /title, since the title summary/ text is received with the body text, by the PA, that it is part of the request. And even helpfully defined part of the scope of the request for the PA.

I would therefore like to know whether requesters should be specifically be stating that summaries/ titles are part of their requests, when making them.

....As its a mistake that other requesters might make - or have made - and been puzzled that the response does not comply with the title of the request and therefore what they thought to be the request.

Hopefully this will avoid any more confusion and more reviews.

::::

::

The ICO 's 'Guide to Making Requests' doesn't stipulate that request summaries/ titles are not part of the request.

And I cannot find any warning guidance that any specific parts of written requests sent to PA's are not taken into consideration.

Could you therefore please provide the documents / data /files - as allowed by the FOIA Act -

1. Any ICO guidance given to requesters that summaries/ titles are NOT part of requests - and will therefore will be ignored by Public Authorities(PA's)... And that the ICO will do likewise.

2. Any guidance on excluding summaries/ titles from FOIA requests given to PA's by the ICO.

3. When this decision on summaries/ titles not being part of requests was made by the ICO.

As summary/ title exclusion from requests is not specified in the Act - so a subsequent decision must have been taken by the ICO, after the Act.

4. The documents on file, with the logic which led to the decision and the decision itself.

5. Does the ICO's decision on this also extend and apply to SAR Titles?*

If so, please provide files on this decision.

:::

NB *Also including any ICO guidance on where a person might request information - on behalf of another person - but put the name of the person requesting a SAR in the title.

Presumably - if all summary titles are not part of a request and are to be ignored - the ICO must issue some guidance on replying to such requests, which logically cannot be fulfilled.

6. Does this summary/ title decision only apply to WDTK requests, or all requests?

Please provide any information where a decision has been made specifically excluding any parts of WDTK requests - which are sent to PA's - with titles - from any determination under the Act.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

AccessICOinformation, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO we will contact
you as soon as possible if we need any further information to enable us to
answer your request. If we don't need any further information we will
respond to you within our published, and statutory, service levels. For
more information please visit [1]http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply

 

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

 

If you are concerned about the way an organisation is handling your
personal information, we will not usually look into it unless you have
raised it with the organisation first. For more information please see our
webpage ‘raising a concern with an organisation’ (go to our homepage and
follow the link ‘for the public’). You can also call the number below.

 

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days.

 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

 

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

 

For more information about our services, please see our webpage ‘Service
standards and what to expect' (go to our homepage and follow the links for
‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to expect'). You can
also call the number below.

 

If there is anything you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113.

 

Yours sincerely

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

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.

Yours sincerely

TC
Information Governance Officer

.....So the summary/subject/title of a request WAS a necessary part of a request at this point - as it states above.

Presumably it is a very recent decision that subjects/ summaries/ titles are NOT to be considered as part of requests.

Information Commissioner's Office

5 December 2015

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0606986

 

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Request for Information
 
Further to your information request to the ICO of 25 November 2015, titled
“Why is the summary/title text of an FOIA request not part of the
request?”, your request is being dealt with by the Information Access Team
in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, under the
reference number shown above. 
 
We are processing your request, but would appreciate clarification on one
aspect of your request so that we are clear about what information you are
asking for.
 
Amongst other things you have asked:
 
“Could you therefore please provide the documents / data /files - as
allowed by the FOIA Act -

1. Any ICO guidance given to requesters that summaries/ titles are NOT
part of requests - and will therefore will be ignored by Public
Authorities(PA's)... And that the ICO will do likewise.

2. Any guidance on excluding summaries/ titles from FOIA requests given to
PA's by the ICO.

3. When this decision on summaries/ titles not being part of requests was
made by the ICO.

As summary/ title exclusion from requests is not specified in the Act - so
a subsequent decision must have been taken by the ICO, after the Act.

4. The documents on file, with the logic which led to the decision and the
decision itself.”
 
In respect of point 4, we understand your information request, and the
“decision” you have referred to, relates to the decision notice recently
issued by the ICO under our reference FS50559082, which has been published
on our website [1]here. 
 
Can you please confirm if you are asking for either:
 
 

 1. ALL the “documents on file”, ie all information held under our case
reference FS50559082? 

 
or
 
 

 2. Only any information we may hold relating to “… the logic which led to
the decision and the decision itself” which relates specifically to
this case, and the conclusion at paragraph 18 of the decision notice
that “… the title is immaterial, as this is not part of the request”?

 
Once you have clarified the scope of this part of your request we will
continue to process it, and will respond to this part of your request
within 20 working days of receipt of the additional information we need. 
 
When you reply please be careful not to amend the information in the
‘subject’ field, so that it can be redirected to the correct case on our
system. 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Antonia Swann      Lead Information Access Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [2]www.ico.org.uk
 

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Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

I hope this will clarify the request for you.

I'm asking on what basis the ICO determined that summaries/ titles are not included within FOiA requests.

When, why and who.. made this decision?

Was there any ICO guidance on the exclusion of request summaries/titles pre- November 2015, or is this an entirely new criteria by reason of the Cabnet Office(CO) decision quoted above?

Reasoning:

When I rang the ICO to ask why the title/summary had been excluded from the specific request ( above on thread) the caseworker on the request above could not tell me when the decision to do so had been made by the ICO.
In fact, he got quite heated about it.

He stated that since the decision to exclude summaries/ titles was made within the new CO Decision provided ( for your reference above ), it was now policy anyway.

So I took it to mean that HENCEFORTH all summaries/titles will be ignored as being parts of requests.

::

However, I thought that he may just not have known when the original decision to ignore titles/ summaries was made, as he must have been conforming to some sort of guidance, rather than just create a new criteria.

So I am trying to ascertain :

1. Whether that is now a change of policy- due to the CO request -(since he stated so).

2. OR if there was previous guidance as to whether or not the ICO should exclude the summaries/titles of requests - since, from reading previous requests, this doesn't seem to be the case.... And he just didn't know when the decision was made.
If that is the case, then guidance on titles /summaries ( and its background ) must exist.

:::

I think it is important to find out as I had previously been assuming ( along with others) that the requests that I have made ( as received by a PA - with the summary/title) were being considered as a WHOLE, rather than only in part (as edited and considered without summary/title by the PA). This may have been the reason for confusion.

Therefore it's relevant to ask the date that a decision to exclude titles/ summaries was made by the ICO ...and the reasoning for doing so, as I may have to remake some previous requests ......by rewriting the part-defining summary/ title part of the request .....within the following text, into new requests.

If I do so, and this is not the case, then my requests may be vexed - for repetition.

And any new requests would also have to repeat the summary/title within the following text ... as the semi-scoping summary/ title ( of necessity - short........ as WDTK does not provide the space to fully scope a request) for consideration.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

casework, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days. 

 

Please note that if you are concerned about the way an organisation is
handling your personal information, we will not usually look into it
unless you have raised it with the organisation first. For more
information please see our webpage ‘raising a concern with an
organisation’ (go to our homepage and follow the link ‘for the public’).
You can also call the number below.

 

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days.

 

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO - we will
contact you as soon as possible if we need any further information to
enable us to answer your request. If we don't need any further information
we will respond to you within our published, and statutory, service
levels. For more information please visit our webpage 'access information
about the ICO' (go to our homepage and follow the link for ‘about the
ICO’).

 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer. 

 

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us. 

 

For more information about our services, please see our webpage ‘service
standards and what to expect’ (go to our homepage and follow the links for
‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to expect'). You can
also call the number below.

 

If you have a matter you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113 (local rate).

 

Yours sincerely

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

Our newsletter 

Details of how to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter can be found at
[1]http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...

 

Twitter 

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Information Commissioner's Office

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    FS50559082 Extract from ICO complainant emails re title of FOI request.docx

    13K Download View as HTML

11 December 2015

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0606986

 

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Request for Information
 
Thank you for your email to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of
25 November 2015, in which you have asked for various items of information
relating to “Why is the summary/title text of an FOIA request not part of
the request?”.
 
We have dealt with your information request in accordance with your ‘right
to know’ under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA),
which entitles you to be provided with any information ‘held’ by a public
authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies. 
 
We have already established that your request, and the additional queries
you have raised, relate to the recent decision notice we have issued under
our reference FS50559082, and paragraph 18 in particular (this is
available from our website [1]here). 
 
Before addressing the various points you have raised, including those
flagged in your further correspondence of 5 December, it may help to
confirm at the outset that the ICO does not hold, and never has, any
recorded information, whether in the form of advice, guidance, a line to
take, policy or procedure, which suggests to any public authority
(including the ICO) that any information given by a requester in a
summary, title or subject line should, or should not, be included as part
of the request. 
 
As you have already suggested, our published advice for individuals does
not make any reference to whether information included within a summary or
title is considered to be within the scope of a request or not.  Our
guidance for public authorities on [2]Interpreting and clarifying requests
talks about taking account of the context and background of requests in
order to understand what the requester wants. If the requester has
included information within the title, heading or a summary of their
request this may well help to clarify the meaning, and if so should be
taken into account.  The ICO accepts that the title can have some
relevance in informing the context of the request, the test is what the
objective reading of the request is.  However, the circumstances of
whether any information provided in a summary or title is relevant to an
information request will differ from one request to another, and should be
considered in each individual case. 
 
Although in case FS50559082 it was concluded that the information
contained in the title was immaterial to the request, and did not form
part of the request, this view only applies to this particular request,
and this decision notice.  This is not an ICO policy, or ‘line to take’ in
respect of all other requests. 
 
Indeed, we are aware that in the decision notice for [3]FER0545885, dated
December 2014, the ICO criticised a public authority for not taking
account of the title (see paragraph 28).
 
Bearing this in mind, our responses to your various queries and
information requests are detailed below:
 
Why is the summary/title text of an FOIA request not part of a request?

The summary/title text contained within an FOIA request may form part of a
request, depending on the phrasing, context and content of that particular
request.

I would therefore like to know whether requesters should be specifically
be stating that summaries/ titles are part of their requests, when making
them.

As long as the phrasing, context and content of an information request is
clear, there should not be any need for a requester to specifically state
whether information provided in a summary and/or title is in fact part of
the actual information request or not.

Could you therefore please provide the documents / data /files - as
allowed by the FOIA Act -

1. Any ICO guidance given to requesters that summaries/ titles are NOT
part of requests - and will therefore will be ignored by Public
Authorities(PA's)... And that the ICO will do likewise.

As stated above, we do not hold this information.

2. Any guidance on excluding summaries/ titles from FOIA requests given to
PA's by the ICO.

As above, we do not hold this information.
 
3. When this decision on summaries/ titles not being part of requests was
made by the ICO.

No overriding ‘decision’ on whether summaries/titles are part of a request
has been made by the ICO.

4. The documents on file, with the logic which led to the decision and the
decision itself.

The only recorded information we hold in connection with the file, ie
FS50559082, is a small extract from an email exchange between the
complainant and the ICO’s Case Officer, where the Case Officer responded
to a query about the relevance of the request title. This extract is shown
in the attached document. 
 
5. Does the ICO's decision on this also extend and apply to SAR Titles?*

As explained, as long as the phrasing, context and content of an
information request is clear, whether this is made under the FOIA, the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 or the Data Protection Act
1998, there should not be any need for a requester to specifically state
whether information provided in a summary and/or title is in fact part of
the actual information request or not.

If so, please provide files on this decision.

No such overriding ‘decision’ has been made, so no information is held.

NB *Also including any ICO guidance on where a person might request
information - on behalf of another person - but put the name of the person
requesting a SAR in the title.

Our website provides advice on making a request on behalf of another
person [4]here, but this does not make any specific reference to any
information included within a title or subject line.  We do not hold any
separate guidance on information contained in a title or subject line for
subject access requests, so the information you have asked for is not
held.

6. Does this summary/ title decision only apply to WDTK requests, or all
requests?

No such overriding ‘decision’ has been made.

Please provide any information where a decision has been made specifically
excluding any parts of WDTK requests - which are sent to PA's - with
titles - from any determination under the Act.? 
 
Aside from the two decision notices referred to above, we are not aware of
any more DN’s which have addressed this issue. 
 
We have tried searching the published DN’s on our website using various
search terms, but it has not proved possible to identify any further
cases.  We have also checked our electronic case management system, which
records (amongst other things) all FOIA and EIR complaints submitted to
the ICO, but again there is no automated search criteria we can use to
easily identify the WDTK cases you are interested in.  We do not have a
separate record of whether a request is made via WDTK, nor do we keep a
record of whether any information included in a title or subject line was
considered to be within the scope of the request.  It would therefore be
necessary to conduct a manual check of all cases raising the issue of what
information was taken into account when deciding on the scope of the
information request.  Given that between 1 April 2014 and 25 November 2015
(the date of your request) there have been approximately 1040 FOIA and 96
EIR cases, and allowing for approximately 3 minutes consideration of each
case, this would take over 56 hours to attempt to find the information you
have asked for.
 
You may be aware that section 12 of the FOIA makes clear that a public
authority (such as the ICO) 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
ICO, 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.  Given that the search
I have outlined above would take well in excess of 18 hours it is for this
reason, and in accordance with section 12 of the FOIA, that we are not
obliged to comply with this part of your request for information.
 
However, if you can narrow the scope of your request we may be in a
position to provide the information free of charge, if it will cost us
less than the appropriate limit to do so.  For example, if you can narrow
the dates you are interested in, or if you can name any of the specific
data controllers/public authorities that you want information about, then
we may be able to conduct further searches and provide the information you
seek.  I should point out that any reformulated request you may wish to
make to the ICO will be treated as a new FOI request, and the 20 working
day time limit will begin again.
 
Review Procedure

We hope this reply has been helpful, but if you are dissatisfied with this
response 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
Information Access Team at the address below or e-mail
[5][ICO request email].
 
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 our Customer Contact Team at the address given or visit our website if
you wish to make a complaint under either the Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations.
 
A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website [6]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 

Antonia Swann
Lead Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [7]ico.org.uk  [8]twitter.com/iconews
Please consider the environment before printing this email

 
 

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Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Thank you but this request was occasioned by a phone call I made to the ICO , asking when this decision in summary/ title had been made, as clearly I was unaware of the rule.

And wondering if I'd have to re-request requests where I hadn't specifically mentioned the title in the body text.
Clearly the date of this decision was important to avoid lt's if work and avoid vexation.

The caseworker on this Decision told me that the answer to my request for clarification was in HIS decision.
And that the summary/ title decision had been made by HIM in this particular decision.

So presumably that would be the case for any further ICO decisions.

Which is why I was puzzled - as I wouid have thought that any statement if this sort wouid be ckear ICO guidance. ..which I why I made this request.

As you ask...

I went to grc court on a request called 'Executive Office' an office in which around six people work.

I was rather alarmed that the ICO made a decision after the PHSO had informed it that I had asked for the name of ALL PHSO employees ( around 430 of them). I couldn't understand why the title if the request seemed to be ignored, as plainly I had never made any such ridiculous request.

(The court, which referred to the title , upheld my argument against the ICO)

So I wondered if this rule has been in place at the time - and that wouid explain this strange misconception. Indeed some of the extraordinary progress to court.

That is why I wanted to know if the there was specific guidance, or, as the caseworker told me, HIS decision now meant that titles were no longer to be considered.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

casework, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

We don’t monitor this email address, so please don’t respond directly to
this email.

 

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days. Please note
that if you are concerned about the way an organisation is handling your
personal information, we will not usually look into it unless you have
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webpage ‘[1]raising a concern with an organisation’.

 

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days.

 

If you have reported receiving spam email – we will use the information
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If you have made a request for information held by the ICO - we will
contact you if we need any further information to help us answer your
request. If we don't need any further information we will respond to you
within our published, and statutory, service levels. For more information
please visit our webpage [2]'access information about the ICO'.

 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

 

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

 

For more information about our services, please see our webpage
‘[3]service standards and what to expect’ (go to our homepage and follow
the links for ‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to
expect'). You can also call the number below.

 

If you have a matter you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113 (local rate).

 

Yours sincerely

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I certainly have never intended to challenge this decision, it's a waste of public money to do so.

But I have my answer from the ICO......

'No such overriding ‘decision’ has been made'.

So although the caseworker told me that HIS Decision meant that titles/ summaries were NOT included in fOIA requests, and it wouid set a precedent, it wouid seem that he was incorrect no such ruling or new guidance has been made via his decision.

Dear casework,

Clarification :

On the Decision- from which the text was taken - clearly I never wanted to pursue the matter - as I already had my answer from the Cabinet Office in another request.

And so challenging it or taking the decision to court was a complete waste of my time, not to mention everyone else's.
So I was never objecting to the Decision. But I wanted to find out from the caseworker if ignoring the title/summary was a new thing.. If f it had akways been procedure.

Which is a reasonable question to ask.

But the caseworker stated that - as it had been made - the 'no need to or apply summary/title when responding to FOIA request, or making a decision' within this particular decision it, that it is a precedent. The decision had been made on this premise.

Therefore , because it was so difficult to talk to this caseworker ( another complainant has stated exactiy the same opinion about this individual caseworker on the internet), I wanted to know if ALL Decisions had been made on the same basis in the past and that if that wasn't the case if ALL decisions would follow this one on the same basis....that titles and summaries wouid be ignored in the future.

::::

The point of this request is:

Since there was no guidance on this particular point - summaries/titles inclusion- in effect, does an individual ICO caseworker have the POWER to set a PRECEDENT with his decision, as the caseworker on this decision stated?

And if so, once a precedent has been set by a caseworker within a Decision, would the Decision have to be challenged in court to overturn it?

:::

Therefore I am asking for ICO to provide information the process on precedents made within decisions, as it seems that if one has been made as has been stated , then I must - albeit unwillingly- take the decision with the 'no title /summary precedent ' in it , to court.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Dear casework,

1. The links do not seem to work on this request.

::::

2. Since you have asked me to narrow the scope if my request....

I wouid like to narrow it to all requests that the caseworker, Michael Avery, on the request stated ( no working link) has handled.

:::

3. Could you also provide more information on the other case mentioned ( no working link) where the converse is true. Ie. The title was considered important - and part of the request.

::::::

4. You have also stated

'The ICO accepts that the title can have some
relevance in informing the context of the request, the test is what the
objective reading of the request is. However, the circumstances of
whether any information provided in a summary or title is relevant to an
information request will differ from one request to another, and should be
considered in each individual case'.

Therefore my understanding is that you are stating that the caseworker can decide whether or not to completely ignore part of the request..as made by the requester.

And that logically the request is not within the 'ownership' if the requester.

And can be rephrased or part ignored by the caseworker.

Yet seemingjy the ICO has no power to edit, or rephrase a request, of which the title is part.

If it had, then this could lead to a request being misinterpreted or ignored in part.

Which obviousiy creates more work for the requester ( appeal) or the ICO.

::::

Therefore are there any plans to determine who exactiy 'owns' the request. ....The requester, or the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The reason for making this request is the difficulty in conversing with ICO employee Mr A on his judgement, when asking a perfectly reasonable question as to whether or not request titles are taken into account in decisions,

The ICO cannot seem to locate any other decisions ignoring a titles - which, in my case, clearly helped define the scope of the request,.

Initially I just sought clarification from Mr A ( thinking about how to frame requests in general) not expecting any problems,.

However, Mr A said as the decision had been made by him, ithat was now the was now the case.. Requester titles could be ignored - and that since he had bade this decision on behalf of the ICO, it was up to me to challenge the ICO decision on the matter in court. Which wouid be a complete waste of my time, if as he stated, he had the power to do so.

.....Therefore it was up to me to find out whether or not he was acting within the powers of the ICO in making this what seemed to me to be a policy change which would impact on how requesters scoped requests.

::::

For reference, I am not alone in the difficulty of communicating with Mr Avery.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID...

NB Mr A has continued to send me emails, even after I have asked the ICO that he should not do so - while a complaint was investigated and to avoid any more communication difficulties with an individual officer.

The ICO response is that I cannot do so and that Mr A would continue to handle my requests. This put me in a position of no longer being able to refer requests to the ICO.

NB Apparently, the ICO does not have a employee complaints system, other than to send complaints straight to the manager of the employee concerned ( also demonstrated in the link above).

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Forgive me...have left reading glasses down so what part of FOI was "partially successful"?

Dear casework,

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

This is yet another example of the work of the PHSO - where it's response ignores the title of a request.

The ICO may note that I requested to know WHY the scoping Title of the request had been ignored. And if the PHSO had received the title via the WDTK format within this request - but received no response.

That is why I attempted to find out from the ICO why both the PHSO and the ICO ignored the titles of requests.

And whether it not they were sent by WDTK to the respondent - since it was now a continuing pattern of behaviour to ignore titles.

:::

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you.But I am not asking about how to make a complaint.

The request is called 'Review Procedure' and pertains to FOIA and SAR requests.

So the response doesn't address the request .... presumably the
Customer Care Guidance was provided by mistake

Perhaps WDTK does not provide the title of the request for the
PHSO?

Please you would you let me know on this point, as - in future - I
can include the title of the request In the request for clarity.

:::

My request - called 'Review procedures ' is about review procedures
on FOIA requests and SAR's, how their integrity is ensured....etc etc

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Information Commissioner's Office

1 Attachment

13 January 2016

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0609592

 

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Request for Information
 
Thank you for your email of 13 December 2015, which included the following
information request to the Information Commissioner’s Office:
 
“… I am asking for ICO to provide information the process on precedents
made within decisions …”.
 
We have dealt with your request in accordance with your ‘right to know’
under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which
entitles you to be provided with any information ‘held’ by a public
authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.
 
Whilst there is no recorded information held by the ICO which specifically
addresses or details a “process on precedents made within decisions”, we
do hold information about the process case officers and the signatories of
decision notices (DN’s) are expected to follow within our ‘ICO Operations
Directorate - Service Guide’, which is available on our website here:
 
[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...
 
We would refer you to section 8 ‘Progressing FOIA and EIR cases’ (page
29), and the last two paragraphs in particular headed ‘Our investigation’
and ‘The decision notice’.
 
As the Service Guide suggests, it is the case officer who will consider
all of the issues raised by the complaint, and carry out any necessary
enquiries with the public authority.  They will also draft the DN, taking
into account any relevant “… case law, legislative requirements and
developing precedent, along with any other relevant guidance, with
specific reference to the policy delivery knowledge base”. 
 
Case officers frequently consult with colleagues in our Policy Delivery
Department, who are responsible for ensuring that all advice and guidance
relating to the legislation the ICO regulates is relevant and up to date
including, where necessary, any Tribunal decisions which may necessitate
the ICO either amending an existing ‘line to take’, or creating a new
one.  As we confirmed in our response to your previous FOI request about
‘summary/title text’, there is no current line to take or guidance on this
issue.
 
The draft DN is then passed to a senior member of staff for approval, and
‘sign off’. The Service Guide confirms “The signatory will check that the
decision notice has been adequately researched, reasoned, evidenced and
drafted.”.
 
You may also find it helpful to see our standard ‘DN Sign off form’ (copy
attached), which shows the process that is followed between the case
officer drafting the DN and the DN signatory approving and signing it, and
it being issued to the relevant parties.  You will see the form includes
the response ‘yes’ to all the questions asked, but this will be amended to
‘no’ where necessary.
 
In response to your queries, an ICO case officer does not have “the power
to set a precedent” as the DN is ultimately signed off by a senior member
of staff following a rigorous process, and as the Service Guide confirms
on page 59, “If someone disagrees with a decision notice we have issued
about their FOIA complaint, they cannot complain under this process but
must appeal to the First–tier Tribunal (Information Rights).”.
 
Please also note that we are treating your additional email of 22 December
2015 within this ‘WhatDoTheyKnow?’ chain of correspondence as a further
FOI request to the ICO, and will provide you with a response by 22 January
2016.
 
We hope this is helpful, but if you are dissatisfied with this response
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 Information Access
Team at the address below or e-mail [2][ICO request email].
 
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 our Customer Contact Team at the address given or visit our website if
you wish to make a complaint under either the Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations.
 
A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website [3]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 

Antonia Swann
Lead Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [4]ico.org.uk  [5]twitter.com/iconews
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Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

References

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1. https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...
2. mailto:[ICO request email]
3. https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...
4. http://ico.org.uk/
5. https://twitter.com/iconews

Information Commissioner's Office

22 January 2016

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0606986

 

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Your email of 6 January 2016
 
Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
through the [1]whatdotheyknow.com (WDTK) website.
 
The WDTK website was created to help people request information from
public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the
Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs).
 
The ICO is the regulator responsible for overseeing information rights
legislation. We are also subject to the legislation we oversee.
 
As a public authority we are subject to the FoIA and EIRs, so if people
want to request information we might hold about our work as a public body,
they can do this through WDTK.
 
The correspondence you have sent to us is not a request for information we
might hold. It appears to be a concern, complaint or enquiry about the way
an organisation has complied with the legislation we oversee. We do deal
with issues like this. However, we do not deal with this part of our work
through the WDTK website.
 
Please visit the ICO website [2]www.ico.org.uk for information about the
legislation we oversee and advice on what to do if you are unhappy with
the way an organisation has met its information rights obligations.
 
If you need to raise a complaint or concern with us you can do this by
following the instructions on this page of our website -
[3]www.ico.org.uk/concerns.
 
Please also contact our helpline for any further advice on 0303 123 1113.
 
Please do not reply to this message through the WDTK website. We make no
commitment to respond if you do.
 
Yours sincerely
 
The Information Commissioner's Office
 
 

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

References

Visible links
1. http://whatdotheyknow.com/
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/concerns

Information Commissioner's Office

22 January 2016

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0611288

 

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Request for Information
 
Further to your email of 22 December 2015, amongst other things you have
narrowed the scope of part of your earlier information request to the ICO
of 25 November 2015. 
 
In your first email of 25 November you asked:
 
“Please provide any information where a decision has been made
specifically excluding any parts of WDTK requests – which are sent to PA’s
– with titles – from any determination under the (FOI) Act”
 
Following our response you narrowed it further in your second email of 22
December as follows:
 
“I would like to narrow it to all requests that the caseworker, Michael
Avery, on the request stated … has handled”
 
As before, we have dealt with your narrowed request under the new IRQ
reference number above, and in accordance with your ‘right to know’ under
section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which entitles
you to be provided with any information ‘held’ by a public authority,
unless an appropriate exemption applies.
 
We have checked the information we hold within our electronic case
management system.  We can confirm that there are 20 FOI/EIR cases that
are still held on this system which have been dealt with by Michael Avery,
and which resulted in a decision made relating to an information request
submitted to a public authority via ‘WhatDoTheyKnow?’ (WDTK).  Having
checked all 20 cases only one of them (FS50559082) includes any
determination or view that that any part of the request, including the
title or summary, was excluded from the scope of the request. 
 
As you know, we have already provided you with information held under
FS50559082 which records the reason why the title/summary was not
considered to fall within the scope of that request.
 
We have now received a number of information requests from you that relate
to the same or similar issues, and target an individual member of staff. 
You have also been advised that the proper way to challenge a decision
notice is through an appeal to the Tribunal.  You should be aware that
under section 14 of the FOIA we have the right to refuse a request made
under the legislation if that request is deemed to be vexatious.  The ICO
has published guidance on vexatious requests, and is available from our
website here:
 
[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
 
In your email of 22 December you also said that the links to our website
included in our response of 11 December did not work.  Please accept our
apologies for this, and find the links in their full format provided
below:
 
Decision Notice for FS50559082:
 
[2]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
 
Interpreting and Clarifying requests:
 
[3]https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
 
Decision Notice for FER0545885:
 
[4]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
 
ICO guidance: Can I access personal information on someone else’s behalf?
 
[5]https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/person...
 
Review Procedure:
 
[6]https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...
 
 
We hope this is helpful, but if you are dissatisfied with this response
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 Information Access
Team at the address below or e-mail [7][ICO request email].
 
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 our Customer Contact Team at the address given or visit our website if
you wish to make a complaint under either the Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations.
 
A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website [8]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 

Antonia Swann
Lead Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [9]ico.org.uk  [10]twitter.com/iconews
Please consider the environment before printing this email

 
 

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

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
2. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
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4. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
5. https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/person...
6. https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...
7. mailto:[ICO request email]
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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I made this request to find out if the format on WDTK ( Where a title seperate) , did, or did not include the title in requests..

This was because I'd had a WDTK request title igored before...and been forced to go to court to sort it out. ( my case upheld).

And I couidn't get an answer from the ICO when I rang in,

I just wanted to know if the title was received by the PA ( it is) and if I needed to send the titles within the text of requests in the future, so that they could NOT be ignored and excluded in any decisions.

Or if I had to look through old requests- to see if I might rephrase them ....if the titles not considered part of the request by the ICO - even after they have been received via WDTK.

Which seems to me to be a reasonable me enquiry.

::::

So this is the reason for the request :

I would therefore like to know whether requesters should be
specifically be stating that summaries/ titles are part of their
requests, when making them.

....As its a mistake that other requesters might make - or have
made - and been puzzled that the response does not comply with the
title of the request and therefore what they thought to be the
request.

Hopefully this will avoid any more confusion and more reviews.

:::::

The response doesn't seem to really match the enquiry.

It seems there is an intention to link it to a request ( involving the Cabinet Office.- Which first denied having the request at all ... thanks WDTK - for technically proving that it was received).

Which took ages to process.

As this old request is outdated, and as I know the answer and it wouid be a waste of public money to pursue it , I stated to the caseworker that I had no intention of challenging ....but I just wanted to know the answer to the above.

But he stated that I had to challenge the decision in court to find out. So I made the request instead,

::::

I've done my best to narrow the request for the ICO, as prompted.

IMO : But it wouid seem that the surrounding issues on the Cabinet Office request have clouded the response to the request.