Wednesday, February 16, 2005

James Ashley case

BBC news - No files released on Ashley death
"Police have refused to release a report on the fatal shooting of James Ashley, saying it would be too expensive. Sussex Police said files on his death in 1998 contain 30,000 pieces of paper, which would cost £3,000 to photocopy."

This case was featured in Radio Merseyside yesterday and was asked to provide comment in the lunctime news feature.

There would appear to many issues here:

-The costs of the providing files relating to the case have clearly breached the £450 limit in the fees regs-Duty to assist and advise - the requestor in this case should receive help to narrow down the reqest
-The statement by Sussex Police that: "The force also adds that because of legal difficulties it would cost 11,500 of lawyer's time to examine the papers to work out which sections could be released." is not following the Fees regulations
-The Fees guidance from DCA states: "An authority may not take into account any costs other than those set out in the Regulations. In particular it may not take account of the expected costs of: the time taken to check that a request for information meets the requirements of the FOI Act [Endnote 5]; considering whether the information requested should be withheld in reliance on an exemption under the FOI Act. This includes any costs incurred through seeking legal advice about whether exemptions apply;"
-There may grounds for appeal on calculation of costs

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And do we really believe that the report is only available on paper? Any copying costs would be disbursements and chargeable to the requestor, not a reason for refusal. If they needed to copy their paper to consider the case internally then I would advance an argument to the ICO that their systems were not compliant with the requirements of the Code of Conduct/Code on Maintenance of records and the requestor ought not to be penalised/refused for their lack of preparedness.