UK Freedom of Information E-news - May 2011

28/02/2011
Tags:
  1. ICO takes action on slow FOI responses
  2. Central government FOI performance improves
  3. Abortion statistics can be disclosed
  4. Information Tribunal website archived

1. ICO takes action on slow FOI responses

The ICO is resorting to regulatory action in an attempt to make some public authorities, including the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence and Birmingham City Council, meet the requirement to reduce the time they take to respond to FOI requests. Four other authorities - the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the London Borough of Islington, Wolverhampton City Council and Westminster City Council - have been asked to sign undertakings to improve their performance.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:

“I am delighted that over two thirds of the authorities whose performance we have been monitoring have managed to overcome their problems. However, the remaining authorities have not done enough to convince us that they have a clear and credible plan for getting back on track. Over the next four weeks, we shall be discussing appropriate next steps with them.”

2. Central government FOI performance improves

Government statistics show that central government received 8% more FOI requests in 2010 than the year before, but managed to respond to 86% of all requests in time (20 working days). The Department of Health performed particularly well at 99% and HM Treasury at 95%. The Ministry of Justice received most requests, followed by the Department of Work and Pensions, the Home Office, and the Ministry of Defence.

The 2010 statistics are at http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/statistics-and-data/mojstats/2010%20Annual%20and%20Q4%20FOI%20bulletin%20vfinal.pdf

3. Abortion statistics can be disclosed

The High Court has decided that data on late abortions must be disclosed, as it did not see that the disclosure would have significant data protection implications.

An anti-abortion group, the ProLife Alliance, had requested the publication of all abortion data in England and Wales.  The ICO decided to order the disclosure of the statistics, and its view was supported by the Information Tribunal. The Department of Health’s appeal to the High Court was dismissed. The judgement has not yet been published.

4. Information Tribunal website archived

With the changes in the Tribunals’ structure, the Information Tribunal’s website has been archived and visitors are directed to the Justice Department. However, the site is not as user friendly as the previous site, and regrettably, not all information that was previously published is available.

The new site is at http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/courts-and-tribunals/tribunals/information-rights/index.htm

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Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2011

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