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FOI Requests - Campaign for Freedom of Information


 
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4244
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:24 pm    Post subject:
FOI Requests - Campaign for Freedom of Information
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ear Supporter

Many people experience delays getting a response to an FOI request. Sometimes by the time a response is received it's too late for the information to be used.

Our new report [1] - released this week - highlights the scale of this problem:

Some London councils are failing to comply with the FOI time limits in as many as 40% of the requests they receive.

25 out of 34 London councils failed to meet the Information Commissioner's target of answering 90% of requests on time.

Many of the underperforming councils publish no statistics on their handling of requests, shielding their poor performance from scrutiny.

Worryingly, it also reveals that some councils have Ďspecial proceduresí for dealing with press requests and others likely to attract publicity, which encourage questionable practice. And it identifies errors in some council's guidance which could lead to FOI requests being wrongly refused.

We need to get the word out about this: please will you take two minutes to forward this email to your friends and contacts?

Our report shows how the Information Commissionerís Office (ICO), which enforces the FOI Act, has failed to keep up pressure for improvements on public authorities which persistently breach legal deadlines.The ICO used to publicly name and monitor under-performing bodies.

In 2010 it monitored a total of 33 authorities, including 7 London councils because of delays.

But in 2016 and 2017 it monitored only 2 authorities each year across the whole country. Not a single authority was monitored in 2018.

It has also failed to use its power to issue enforcement notices, which could require an authority to deal with all overdue requests by a set deadline.

The ICO has both informal and powerful formal tools for addressing persistent delays by public authorities, so why is it currently using neither?

Our detailed report, which makes 14 recommendations about how FOI practice can be improved, is just one of the ways we are working hard to strengthen the FOI Act and improve how it works in practice. This week we have also:

Briefed MPs for a debate on extending Freedom of Information to contractors providing public services and housing associations.[2] A change that is long overdue.

Heard that our representations on behalf of a requester at the Upper Tribunal have helped persuade it to refuse the Home Office permission to appeal against a First-tier Tribunal decision requiring the disclosure of correspondence between it and the Crown Dependencies about the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

But we have only two staff and a handful of committed supporters like you. To keep improving and defending the Act, we really need to bring more people like you on board. Please can you help amplify our work today?

Here is what you can do right now:

Forward this email to your friends and ask them to sign up to our mailing list at https://www.cfoi.org.uk/

Share our new report on social media - including a link to cfoi.org.uk - encouraging your contacts to sign up

If you are able to, and havenít already, consider setting up a monthly donation to support our work.

If you can help in these ways we'd be really grateful.

Maurice Frankel and Katherine Gundersen

Campaign for Freedom of Information

[1] Our report FOI Good Practice: A Survey of London Local Authorities is available here https://www.cfoi.org.uk/2019/03/london-councils-foi-performance-assessed/

The report was funded by the charitable foundation Trust for London.

[2] Westminster Hall debate on extending the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to housing associations and public contractors, 6 March 2019.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-03-06/debates/13D3C282-16DE-4378-913B-4E5577E116B2/HousingAssociationsAndPublicContractorsFreedomOfInformation[/quote]
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