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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued an enforcement notice to Shropshire Council for its poor handling of requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.

Following enquiries made by the ICO, the council confirmed it had a weak FOI request handling system, with individual service areas responsible for recording and collating their own FOI requests.

The council said it had plans to clear its backlog of FOI requests by the end of March, but still had 143 unanswered requests towards the end of April. The oldest unanswered request dated back to April 2021, with remaining requests dating from January 2022 and every subsequent month.

The enforcement notice requires the council to respond to all outstanding requests over 20 working days old, no later than six months from the date of the notice. It is also required to devise and publish an action plan to mitigate any future delays to FOI requests, within 35 days from the date of the notice.

Phillip Angell, Head of FOI Casework at the ICO, said:

“People have a legal right to be able to ask their council about its actions and receive an answer promptly. In its poor handling of FOI requests Shropshire Council has been failing to be transparent and accountable. We’ve demanded it does better.”

The action comes under the ICO’s renewed approach to regulating the FOIA where public authorities are clearly not complying with the law. The approach is set out in the ICO’s new FOI and Transparency Regulatory Manual and three-year strategic plan, ICO25.

Phillip added:

“Any public authority with poor Freedom of Information compliance levels may be subject to enforcement or practice recommendations as part of the ICO’s commitment to promoting openness, transparency and accountability.”

An enforcement notice is issued under s52 of FOIA, and requires a public authority to take specific steps to comply with part I of the Act. It is a formal notice issued to address system-wide or repeated breaches. Failure to comply with the enforcement notice may lead to the council being found in contempt of court.

Notes to editors
  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The  ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five acts and regulations.
  3. The ICO can take action to address and change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
  4. To report a concern to the ICO telephone call our helpline on 0303 123 1113, or go to