Creative commons: Flickr/KenJonBro
Creative commons: Flickr/KenJonBro

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today announced that three more public authorities will have their performance in responding to Freedom of Information requests monitored following a high number of complaints. 

The Metropolitan Police, Manchester City Council and Barnet Council will  be watched for the next three months to ensure the amount of requests they respond to within the 20 working day period increase.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said:

“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 ICO has previously said that they use the Ministry of Justice’s quarterly report on FOI in central government to decide which authorities are monitored, however all the bodies in the report which was published last week have managed to escape monitoring this time round.

They also detail the following reasons, in their guidance, as to why the authorities may be monitored by the watchdog:

  • our analysis of complaints received by the ICO suggests that we have received three or more complaints citing delays within a specific authority within a six month period
  • (for those authorities which publish data on timeliness) – it appears that less than 85% of requests are receiving a response within the appropriate timescales. 
  • Evidence of a possible problem in the media or other external sources.

In the first three months of this year the Department for Education, Department of Work and Pensions and Wirral Council were all monitored by the ICO, with the results due to be published in the coming weeks.

Th monitoring period for the three public authorities announced today started on April 1 and will end on June 30th.

 

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.