Information Commissioner's Office
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Three authorities being monitored over FOI responses
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced that three public authorities will be monitored this quarter over concerns about the timeliness of their responses to freedom of information (FOI) requests.
Under the Freedom of Information Act a public authority must respond to an FOI request within 20 working days. The Metropolitan Police Service, the London Borough of Barnet and Manchester City Council are being monitored after the ICO received a significant number of complaints about each authorities’ failure to respond to requests within the statutory time limit.
The monitoring period will last until 30 June 2013. Failure to show signs of improvement during this period may result in enforcement action.
Commenting on the announcement of today’s monitoring list Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:
“Responding to freedom of information (FOI) requests within the time limit of 20 working days is not only a legal requirement under the FOI Act, but also an important means of demonstrating transparency and accountability to the UK taxpayer.
“The three authorities on today’s list have been selected because they are failing to respond to FOI requests in a timely manner and are generating a high number of complaints to my office. We expect to see clear signs of progress throughout the monitoring period.
“We are aware of further concerns expressed about shortfalls in the performance of some government departments. We are reviewing the most recent set of statistics issued by the Ministry of Justice and comparing these with our own experience in dealing with complaints about these departments.”
The latest monitoring exercise follows a similar monitoring period which took place during the first three months of this year, the results of which will be published in the coming weeks.
Notes to Editors
1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. In Scotland, freedom of information is a devolved matter and Scottish public authorities are subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 which is regulated by the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner in St Andrews.
4. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides individuals or organisations with the right to request official information held by a public authority. The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) provide access to environmental information. The ICO’s policy on enforcing public access to official information and the powers at its disposal are set out in its Freedom of information regulatory action policy.