The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the office of the regulator for information rights legislation in the United Kingdom, and has a number of legal obligations in relation to the Welsh language. These are set out in full in the Welsh Language Standards compliance notice.
One such requirement is to publish an annual report detailing actions taken in relation to compliance with the above standards. This report covers the period from April 2022 through to March 2023.
The ICO is a UK-wide regulator, covering England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The primary function of the ICO Wales Regional Office (WRO) is to ensure that matters specific to Wales are appropriately reflected in the work of the wider organisation. The WRO is also responsible for delivering Welsh language services to Welsh speaking stakeholders in Wales.
The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 makes Welsh an official language in Wales. This means it must be treated no less favourably than English. The ICO is subject to these standards and a copy of our compliance notice can be found on our website at www.ico.org.uk in Welsh and English.
Actions taken over the year
Throughout the year, we have continued to provide services in Welsh to Welsh speaking stakeholders. We are pleased to note that we have continued to receive positive feedback in relation to our Welsh language provision and despite an increase in demand for our services over the year, our bilingual service has been uninterrupted. This reflects the ICO’s ongoing commitment to engaging with stakeholders in Welsh.
Below are some of the key actions taken between April 2022 and March 2023:
- We have continued to work on our bilingual user interface on our website, which allows visitors to select Welsh as their preferred language on our accessibility toolbar and navigate our website in Welsh. Where Welsh content is available, it will automatically be displayed. To date 230 pages are available to view bilingually.
- We have promoted our corporate Welsh Language policy internally and have held awareness sessions for internal staff to help improve understanding of the language and to remind staff of the ICO’s obligations under the Welsh Language Measure 2011.
- We celebrated Welsh Language Rights Day by creating videos and posting on social media in Welsh to highlight the services that people are entitled to receive through the medium of Welsh.
- We have continued to develop our bilingual telephony system to allow callers to select their preferred language at the start of the call, allowing them to receive advice and guidance in Welsh. Callers are also able to leave voicemails in their preferred language and guarantee a call back in that language.
- Despite largely working from home, we have continued our “Dydd Gwener Cymraeg” initiative via Teams, and encouraged the use of Welsh in our internal meetings. The increased use of Welsh in everyday conversations amongst Welsh speakers has been noticeable given that 80% of the ICO Wales team are Welsh speakers or learners.
During the year, the ICO received 166 enquiries in Welsh, representing almost 8% of all enquiries handled by the ICO Wales office. The enquiries can be broken down to 39 by email and 127 telephone enquiries.
We conducted 7 cases in the Welsh Language and all were dealt with in line with our service standards.
We received 3 complaints in relation to our provision of Welsh language services, which we dealt with and resolved in accordance with our Welsh language complaints procedure. To see a copy of our procedure, please click here.
We have been working hard to raise awareness of the requirements of the Standards by holding internal presentations and awareness sessions on our Welsh Language obligations. A large amount of work has also been undertaken with our Communications Team with the aim of improving the quality and availability of our online provision through the medium of Welsh. This has included Welsh speaking staff involved in Comms project meetings to develop bilingual tools for our public website.
Our Wales team have developed an e-module that includes the requirements of the Standards that is mandatory for all staff to complete. This has been recorded and made available on our staff intranet pages to view at any time.
Over the course of the year, the WRO has continued to receive considerable proactive contact from other departments of the ICO in relation to the Welsh language, which has been pleasing to note and illustrates the efficacy of our awareness-raising campaign.
Social media / website
All messages, posts and requests sent to our social media platforms through the medium of Welsh are responded to in the Welsh language without delay. Over the reporting period all posts that were relevant to Wales only were published bilingually.
All guidance on our external website that is relevant to Wales is made available bilingually and published the same time as the English version.
The ICO continues to encourage and equip staff to be able to deal with stakeholders in Welsh throughout their service journey. All members of staff based in Wales are annually given an opportunity to develop their Welsh skills should they wish to do so, which will be supported by the ICO. During the reporting period, two members of staff have continued to develop their welsh language skills through funded online learning modules.
Staff skills assessment
Of five members of staff at the WRO, three have excellent spoken Welsh language skills. All are encouraged to respond to written or email enquiries in Welsh where they feel confident enough to do so without invoking a professional translator. This is helping to develop in-house written skills and confidence.
There were no vacancies or posts advertised during this reporting period.
During the period covered by this report, we spent £4378.06. on translating documents. And a total of 47 documents were translated, some internally. These included casework documents, press releases, letters to Welsh speakers and text for webpages falling within scope of our Welsh language website project.
- We will continue to raise awareness of our Welsh Language obligations in Wales and to ensure all members of staff in our head office are aware of our commitment to engage with our stakeholders in Welsh.
- We will design and develop a new Welsh Language landing page on our website which will pull together useful information rights guidance in one place for Welsh language users.
- We aim to create a Welsh learning hub that is open to all staff across the ICO who live in Wales or expresses an interest to learn Welsh. We aim to meet regularly to converse in Welsh and help support the development of Welsh oracy/literacy skills amongst other staff across the organisation.
- We aim to increase the number of pages available on our bilingual interface so that visitors are able navigate more of our website content in Welsh.