- Information Commissioner issues Enforcement Notice relating to backlog of 261 FOI requests
- Council must provide action plan on improving response times
- Council can be found in contempt for failure to meet terms of Enforcement Notice
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued an Enforcement Notice to City of York Council to clear its backlog of 261 unanswered Freedom of Information requests.
The council must further provide an action plan of how it plans to improve its performance, which must include a ‘lessons learned’ exercise which examines the root cause of delays to responding to information requests.
Following investigations by the ICO, the council stated that it had not yet responded to 96 requests received between April to December 2021, 102 requests received during 2022 and 63 requests received between January and August 2023. Whilst by the date of the Enforcement Notice significant progress had been made by City of York Council in clearing this backlog, the notice formalises the requirement for it to be cleared fully.
“Responding to Freedom of Information Act requests effectively and efficiently is important for maintaining transparency as well as the trust of the public.
"In this case, there has clearly been a failure to meet these expectations. What we are saying to City of York Council is – this needs to be dealt with. We are pleased to see that the Council has already made good progress in this area, and hope to see this continue.
“We are also mandating that the council provides us with a plan for improvement, where they learn the lessons of the mistakes made here and ensure that they are not repeated.
“Senior leaders in all public authorities should look at what we are saying to their colleagues and make sure that their own organisation’s performance and processes comply with the law as the public rightly expect them to and that we will use our powers to enforce when needed.”
- Phillip Angell, Head of FOI Complaints and Appeals
Notes to editors
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.