Friday, August 22, 2008

Hampshire Constabulary must disclose details of cars provided to chief officers

ICO press release
21 August 2008
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ordered the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary to disclose the make and model of vehicles provided to Chief Police Officers for their personal use. The public authority confirmed that two Assitant Chief Constables are provided with vehicles for their own use.

The Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary refused to release the requested information maintaining it was exempt from disclosure as the details could allow the vehicles to be identified and to make them less effective for policing purposes. Hampshire Constabulary also argued that disclosure may lead to criminals and members of the public being able to identify the vehicles which could increase the likelihood of the officers being attacked.

In reaching his decision, the Assistant Information Commissioner Steve Wood considered whether disclosing the relevant details would prejudice policing operations carried out by the police officers. He accepted that disclosure of the requested information could lead to the cars being identified as police vehicles. However there was no evidence to suggest that either car is used in covert surveillance operations that could be undermined if information assisting their identification were released.
Full press release.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ICO orders the release of confidential papers on the Worker Registration Scheme

Press release
13 August 2008
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ordered the release of Cabinet Office papers prepared for a Ministerial Working Group meeting in October 2005 which took the decision to continue the Accession States Worker Registration Scheme (WRS). The ICO has ruled that releasing the information under the Freedom of Information Act would improve public understanding of the controversial decision.
The Assistant Information Commissioner considers that there is a public interest in disclosing the information as the Government's decision on this matter is still considered to be controversial for a variety of reasons, including the impact on immigration and the UK labour market. In his view, the controversy stems, in part, from a lack of public engagement in the decision-making process.
Full press release.

Friday, August 08, 2008

NDA right to withhold draft papers on radioactive waste storage methods

ICO press release
8 August 2008
"The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ruled that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was right to refuse a request, under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), for the draft report into potential areas of radioactive waste storage measures in the UK.
The Assistant Information Commissioner believes there is a stronger public interest in maintaining the exception and therefore withholding the requested material than in disclosing it. The draft report represents a dated review of the NDA's position and disclosure would be likely to lead to researchers being less willing to be open and honest in such papers, meaning that policy formulation in areas of scientific research other than radioactive waste storage may also be harmed which could undermine the effectiveness of future reports.

In the view of the Assistant Commissioner, the draft report contains personal views of the particular author, rather than the official position of the NDA, on the status of radioactive waste disposal and should not be released. In general, the ICO does not normally accept that civil servants would be easily deterred from offering candid opinions through fear of disclosure."

Full press release.

Monday, August 04, 2008

ICO urges public authorities to publish meeting minutes

Press release 31 July 2008

The Information Commissioner's Office is renewing its call to public authorities to become more transparent by routinely publishing minutes and agendas of meetings. The ICO is today publishing new guidance to help public authorities understand what information should be made public under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations.

According to the guidance public authorities should be routinely publishing minutes and agendas of public meetings and senior-level meetings. The guidance also states that documents which should be made public under other legislation such as the Local Government Act and background documents which are referred to in the agenda or minutes should, where possible, also be published proactively.

Full press release
Practical guidance What should be published: minutes and agendas