Some interesting decisions here, the DFID case for the statement in the DN about S16:
"A public authority cannot be judged to have provided advice and assistance if it suggests to a complainant that they refine their request and subsequently claim that to comply with this refined request would exceed the appropriate limit."
and the IPCC case for the debate over issues in releasing information with "errors" in that could be misleading:
"They additionally argued that part of the information contained an 'error' which could be misleading and would be likely to prejudice police investigation, and which could only be corrected by the disclosure of the requested information and that the part of the information containing an 'error' could have been disclosed by being put into context or explained furthe..Subsequently, the IPCC accepted that there were no exemptionswhich could be applied, and so provided the complainant with all the information requested."
Case Ref: FS50077102
Public Authority: Bolsover District Council
Summary: On the 8 April 2005 the complainant made a request for the necessary information so that he would be able to calculate for himself whether he was due council tax benefit and if so how much. The Council did not initially recognise the complainant's request as a request under the Freedom of Information Act and sent him an application form for council tax benefit. A further response from the Council explained that the usual method of assessment involved inputting the information from benefit application forms into the Council's computer system which then analyses the data and generates an assessment. After an investigation the Commissioner is satisfied that the Council were unable to disclose the information requested because they did not hold it. The Council have demonstrated that there is no general formula or calculation that could have been provided to the applicant that would allow him to calculate for himself how much council tax he may have been due. However, the Council did not make it sufficiently clear to the complainant that they did not hold the information.
Section of Act/EIR and finding: FOI s.1(1)(a) - Complaint Upheld; FOI s.1(1)(b)
- Complaint Not Upheld; FOI s.16 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full transcript of Decision Notice FS50077102
Case Ref: FS50085601
Public Authority: City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Summary: On 10 January 2005 the complainant requested information about speed cameras held by West Yorkshire Casualty Reduction Partnership on behalf of the Council. The Council responded on the 31 March 2005 therefore breaching the statutory time period for compliance, and the complainant was not satisfied that the information provided adequately answered his request and so asked for the information to be provided in full. The council did not respond, prompting the complainant to ask for details of its internal review procedure. The council then referred the complainant to the Commissioner. The complainant understood that an internal review must be completed prior to an appeal to the Commissioner, and therefore he again requested details of a procedure to facilitate this. The Council again refused to conduct an internal review and so an appeal was lodged with the Commissioner. Before the Commissioner began his investigation the council initiated an internal review into the handling of the request, the outcome of which satisfied the complainant. The Commissioner is of the view that further advice and assistance, as required by s.16, could have been provided and that this may have prevented this request resulting in a complaint.
Section of the Act/EIR and finding: FOI s.1 Upheld; FOI s.10 Upheld; FOI s.16 Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50085601
Case Ref: FS50077717
Public Authority: Royal Berkshire Fire Authority
Summary: The complainant requested the name of the insurance company and policy number for the cover provided under a particular section of the Fire Authority's personal accident scheme. The Fire Authority provided information which stated that AIG Europe (UK) Limited was the company providing the cover. However, the complainant had written separately to AIG and had been informed that it did not cover the policy. He therefore questioned the discrepancy between these two contrasting responses and asked the Commissioner to review whether all relevant information has been provided by the Authority in response to the second part of his request. The public authority told the Commissioner that this information was sourced from the Policy Schedule, which was held in a filing cabinet in the authority's Treasurer's Office, where information on the Authority's insurance policies is usually kept. However, the policy certificate, relating to the schedule, is displayed in the workplace as a statutory requirement. The authority has assured the Commissioner that there is no further information held in relation to the second part of the complainant's request, and the Commissioner is satisfied with this assurance.
Section of Act/EIR and finding: FOI s.1 - Complaint Not Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50077717
Case Ref: FS50082257
Public Authority: The Department for International Development (DFID)
Summary: The complainant requested copies of all minutes and notes of all meetings between the DFID and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) held since 1997. DFID responded by claiming that to comply with this request would exceed the appropriate cost limit and asked that the complainant refine his requests, suggesting minutes and notes of meetings involving the topics of Health and Education. The complainant agreed to this, but after an investigation by the Commissioner it became clear that to do so would exceed the appropriate limit. It is the Commissioner's decision that DFID's suggestion set out in section 16 of the Act. A public authority cannot be judged to have provided advice and assistance if it suggests to a complainant that they refine their request and subsequently claim that to comply with this refined request would exceed the appropriate limit.
Section of Act/EIR and finding: FOI s.16 - Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50082257
Case Ref: FS50066868
Public Authority: Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCC)
Summary: The complainant requested copies of correspondence with Hull City Council and a Member of Parliament regarding the IPCC's investigation into allegations surrounding the previous Humberside Police investigation into Colin Inglis, ex-chairman of Humberside Police Authority and former leader of Hull City Council. The request was refused on the basis that information would be likely to prejudice a criminal investigation being conducted by the police. However, the IPCC has only provided evidence in support of the likelihood of prejudice in relation to part of the requested information. They additionally argued that part of the information contained an 'error' which could be misleading and would be likely to prejudice police investigation, and which could only be corrected by the disclosure of the requested information and that the part of the information containing an 'error' could have been disclosed by being put into context or explained further, (awareness guidance number 3). Subsequently, the IPCC accepted that there were no exemptions which could be applied, and so provided the complainant with all the information
Section of Act/EIR and finding: FOI s.31 Complaint Upheld
Full Transcript of Decision Notice FS50066868