Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Informing Better Regulation

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has made good progress putting better regulation principles into practice according to a new report from the Better Regulation Executive published today.

The report, part of a series of reviews of national regulators, examined how the ICO, which promotes public access to official information and protects personal information, matched up to the principles of effective regulation set out by Philip Hampton in 2005.  The reviews, which look at regulators’ interaction with businesses, focused on the ICO’s activities under data protection legislation. The report found that the ICO:

  • has taken a lead role in Europe on data protection issues, showing impressive strategic leadership;
  • has a good working relationship with its main stakeholders, working proactively and constructively with them; and
  • is an accessible organisation that produces  clear guidance for businesses and the public at a range of general and specialist levels.

Despite making real progress the report also identified some issues the ICO needed to address to improve its performance further, including articulating more clearly the outcomes that it is seeking to achieve, and instituting a more systematic approach to its audit work.

Notes to editors

  1. The Better Regulation Executive’s full report on the Information Commissioner’s Office can be found at www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/bre/inspection-enforcement/implementing-principles/reviewing-regulators/HIR%20Reports/page52313.html
  2. The ICO was created in January 2001 following the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act in 2000, bringing together the responsibilities of the Data Protection Commissioner. The ICO now has responsibility for the Data Protection Act 1988; Freedom of Information Act 2000; Environmental Information Regulations 2004; and  Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The review team was drawn from the Better Regulation Executive within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and from government and the regulatory sector, including the Gangmasters Licensing  Authority  and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
  4. The Hampton Implementation Review process, that will examine a total of 31 national regulators, follow two independent reports by Sir Philip Hampton and Professor Richard Macrory on making inspection and enforcement of regulation more effective.
  5. The Hampton Review in 2005 - led by Sir Philip Hampton - recommended an end to the one size fits all approach to regulation and that regulators should take a risk-based approach to enforcement and information gathering. Among its findings were that regulators should carry out inspections only when needed and avoid unnecessary form-filling and duplication of effort or information.
  6. In 2006 Professor Richard Macrory's review of penalties for failure to comply with regulatory obligations recommended that regulators should focus on outcomes, rather than action.  He recommended that sanctions should be aimed at changing the behaviour of non-compliant businesses and eliminating any financial gain from non-compliance.
  7. Examples of how individuals and businesses are benefiting from changes to regulation can be found on www.betterregulation.gov.uk. The site also invites suggestions for what else can be done to reduce red tape.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future

Contacts

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Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
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