ICO to monitor four councils over FoI responses

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is monitoring four councils over their responses to freedom of information (FoI) requests.

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is monitoring four councils over their responses to freedom of information (FoI) requests.

The ICO will track the London Borough of Lambeth, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Warwick District Council and Wigan Council for the timeliness of their responses to requests until 30 November.

Deputy Commissioner Graham Smith said: “The four councils we have named today should see their inclusion on the latest monitoring list as a clear signal that they need to improve their practices.

“Responding to FoI requests within the permitted timeframe is one of the cornerstones of ensuring transparent local governance. We will be happy to work with the councils in their efforts to turn their performances around.”

The watchdog is also examining the performance of Greenwich Council, which has been under observation since May and is due to submit details of FoI response times for July later this month.

Met Police

The ICO added that it was “concerned” over the timeliness of responses by the Metropolitan Police, which it has been monitoring for over a year.

It said in a statement: “Despite numerous internal changes aimed at improving their performance, the authority is still failing to respond to over 85 % of requests in time.”

The ICO will be meeting with Met Police representatives in the coming weeks before deciding whether to take further action.

Improved performance

However the BBC and Essex Police were praised by the ICO for improving their performance during monitoring from 1 May to 31 July.

Both organisations are now responding to 95 percent of FoI requests within the statutory deadline or 20 days.

Smith said: “We are pleased that the BBC and Essex Police have risen to the challenge after being placed on our FOI monitoring list…both of these organisations should be proud of the changes they have made to make sure requests are responded to in a timely fashion and we expect these improvements to continue.”

The ICO added that the Cabinet Office, Crown Prosecution Service and Hackney Council have all come off formal monitoring after “significantly” improving their performance with over 90 percent of FoI requests now receiving a response in time. 

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