The ICO Regional Offices in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland primarily aim to influence and support key local stakeholders who play an important role in the delivery of information rights to service users and the wider public by explaining the ICO’s position on the proper application of information rights law and good practice in information handling. The offices, which are based in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, also ensure that the institutional and legislative frameworks within their areas of responsibility are properly reflected in the broader work of the ICO.
Whilst the specific activities of each office reflect local needs and demands, they nevertheless largely provide the same range of services to their stakeholders as the office in Wilmslow. These include a helpline and general enquiry service for individuals and for organisations, the promotion of information rights and responsibilities through talks, seminars and conferences, and working with public authorities to ensure information rights are properly reflected within policy initiatives.
Staff in Wales and Northern Ireland also undertake FOIA casework relating to public authorities in their respective areas (Scottish public authorities are subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act which is regulated by a separate Scottish Information Commissioner.).
The ICO Wales office is also responsible for ensuring that ICO services in Wales are delivered in accordance with the Welsh Language Standards, and staff there are encouraged to use Welsh in their work.
Roles in the Regional Offices
The department is composed of three teams led by the Head of ICO Regions. The Head travels between all offices on a regular basis and is supported by a Regional Manager in each. Staff in the offices tend to undertake a much wider range of tasks than their colleagues in our Head Office given the small size of the teams.
The Regional Manager is responsible for the delivery of their team’s Business Plan by keeping under review the office’s activities, the state of key stakeholder relationships and the potential for developing new ones. They also ensure that the team are clear about the standards expected and are managed effectively to develop their potential.
Senior Policy Officer and Lead Policy Officer
The Senior Policy Officers and Lead Policy Officers in the department fulfil a wide range of functions promoting information rights. Liaising with key stakeholders and providing advice and guidance on their policies and practices is an important part of their work. They lead on awareness raising activities, including delivering talks at conferences, seminars and workshops. In addition, they may assist in elements of our Assurance and our Enforcement activities when a local organisation is involved.
Senior Case Officer (not Scotland)
The Senior Case Officers have responsibility for assessing complaints and concerns brought to the attention of the Information Commissioner by members of the public who believe their information rights have been breached. These predominantly relate to the handling of Freedom of Information requests by local public authorities but other matters may be considered by them too. On occasion, they will deliver presentations at awareness raising sessions.
Advice Officer / Support Officer
Advice and Support Officers provide administrative services to the offices as well as operating the local enquiry service for members of the public seeking advice either by telephone or email.