Friday, July 30, 2010

Police sector publication scheme monitoring: follow-up report

In March 2010, the ICO published a second publication schemes monitoring report looking at police forces and police authorities (the first report looked at central government). A brief follow-up report has now been produced, which looks at developments since the publication of the main report.
The most disappointing aspect of our findings was that out of the 90 authorities monitored some 26 (or approximately 30%) were found not to be operating an approved publication scheme. We found various reasons for this. These included missing a class of information out of their adopted scheme (therefore only publishing six classes of information rather than the seven in the model scheme), using an old scheme which was no longer approved and not having any sort of publication scheme in operation.

When the fact that they were not meeting their legal obligations was pointed out to these authorities, most responded in a positive manner and took steps to meet the requirements imposed by s19 of FOIA. As a result of this by the end of June 2010 all but Northumbria Police Authority, Staffordshire Police Authority and Merseyside Police Authority (in this last case a class of information was missing) were operating an approved publication scheme.
For all the authorities we checked (who were operating an approved scheme) we wrote to them with our findings and recommendations. The feedback that we have had from this was often from senior level staff (including from Chief Constables) and has on the whole been very positive.

At the same time a few issues have been identified where some public authorities thought that we had not been fair to them.

Nottinghamshire Police insisted that they did respond to our request for information. Unfortunately (and as we said in the original report) we did not receive this response. Humberside Police Authority got in touch with us to ask that we make it clear that they do recognise the difference between responding to an application for information from their scheme and dealing with a full FOI request. We are happy to do this.
Publication Schemes Police Sector Monitoring Report March 2010 here (pdf) 
Follow-up report here (pdf).

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