Now it has been announced that, following confirmation that it was indeed very shit, the council has had to sign an 'undertaking' in order to avoid formal enforcement action. The undertaking includes acknowledgement that only 40% of requests were responded to on time within the monitoring period.
An undertaking is the lowest level of action the ICO can take, below issuing a practice direction or court action. It's hardly onerous either, broadly all NCC is promising to do is to do what the law requires it to do anyway. Imagine if the only sanction for shoplifting is promising not to do it again eh?
There are some further promises on training of staff etc and NCC is required to provide monthly performance updates for 6 months ending in June. It remains to be seen whether this demonstrates any improvement but, considering JoCo's obsession with secrecy and resultant constant denigrating of FoI I suspect it won't.
In further FoI news, two further decision notices have been issued against NCC by the Information Commissioner. You can find them here and here. These concern requests for information regarding similarities between NCC publicity and Labour's election campaign for 2007 which was reported on by the District Auditor. Two council officers used gmail accounts for official business and the Commissioner was not satisfied that these had been checked properly.
What makes these decisions pretty extraordinary is the following -
- the officers are named. They of course include Stephen Barker but also Jamie O'Malley. Harold Tinworth is also mentioned
- it's pretty rare for the ICO to refuse to accept claims of not holding information
- the Commissioner requires NCC to check the above accounts if possible, requiring them to ask Barker to let them search his gmail account even though he has now left. That said, he was still employed at the time of the original request