Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Net is Closing...

It's the thing that JoCo has been hoping would go away but, in the manner of pulling teeth, NCC is being forced to reveal information on the Housing Allocations scandal. Subject to appeal of course.

The Information Commissioner has just released a decision notice on the issue. You may remember that, despite initial positive noises the police were never asked to mount a formal investigation into the matter. Council officials did meet with the police in 2006 but we don't know what was discussed. That maybe about to change.

Somebody has asked NCC for the minutes of those meetings under the Freedom of Information Act. Amazingly, NCC refused and went off on its usual delaying tactics and exemption bingo and the matter has ended up in the Information Commissioner's lap. He has now released his decision notice.

Initially, NCC's refusal was based on the exemption for information used in an investigation which an authority has a duty to carry out to decide whether someone has committed a criminal offence. The ICO was having none of that, saying that NCC was under no such duty. At most, its possibilities amounted to a power to decide on whether to conduct civil recovery proceedings against individuals but only the police could press criminal charges e.g. for misconduct in public office.

NCC's second objection, that the minutes included details of a 'group' of individuals they were investigating and releasing details of them would breach Data Protection principles was on stronger ground. After all, you can't go around being 'cavalier' with people's personal data can you? Even though the number of people in Nottingham who aren't aware of who EXACTLY that group is now only consists of sub-rock dwellers.

So the Information Commissioner has ordered the release of the minutes of three meetings between the council and the police in 2006 but with the details of the 'group' of individuals redacted. Like I say, that won't diminish their impact a great deal. It might finally shed some light on why the hell the police utterly failed to do their job at the time.

Will they appeal? Time will tell.

Note; I've also still got an outstanding complaint to the ICO about a request that covers the same ground plus some extras. Will let you know how I get on...

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