Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Information Commissioner intervenes to improve internal review process

ICO press release
22 Dec 2009
Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, has used his powers to secure improvements in the way two public bodies conduct internal reviews under the Freedom of Information Act. In line with the Information Commissioner’s enforcement strategy, Christopher Graham has issued practice recommendations to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Cardiff County Council. Both authorities have repeatedly failed to comply with the timescales for responding to requests for internal reviews set out in the Code of Practice and the Commissioner’s guidance.

The Information Commissioner has issued a practice recommendation to Cardiff County Council after it repeatedly failed to conduct internal reviews promptly. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found evidence which showed a number of internal reviews appeared incomplete despite being open for over two years. The recommended period of time for completing an internal review is 20 working days or 40 days in exceptional cases. In no instance should the time taken to conduct a review exceed 40 working days.
The Information Commissioner has also issued a practice recommendation to UKBA after it failed numerous times to conduct internal reviews. Following complaints to the ICO, UKBA confirmed that during the period 21 January 2007 to 21 July 2008, only 17 of 46 internal review decisions had been completed within 40 working days. During the period of 1 August 2008 to 31 January 2009 only 10% were completed within 20 working days and 57% of reviews took in excess of 40 working days to complete. Prior to serving this practice recommendation the ICO monitored UKBA’s handling of internal reviews. Despite some progress, UKBA has still been failing to meet the Information Commissioner’s recommended targets.
ICO press release here.
Cardiff County Council practice recommendation here.
UK Border Agency practice recommendation here.

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