Presentation on theme: "The Central Clearing House Belinda Crowe Head of Information Rights Division Information Rights User Group July 2006."— Presentation transcript:
The Central Clearing House Belinda Crowe Head of Information Rights Division Information Rights User Group July 2006
Information Rights Division What do we do? Data protection policy, UK and in Europe Data sharing FOI policy ICO sponsorship TNA sponsorship and the Clearing House ….
The myth March 2005: The Independent A secret "spin department" has been set up inside Whitehall to deal with questions brought under the Freedom of Information Act that threaten to damage or embarrass the Government.
The Reality ensuring consistency on round robin requests and precedent-setting cases providing guidance on specific cases promoting/ensuring compliance with the Act (including advising disclosure of non- exempt information) producing/updating guidance to practitioners
The CH team Four grade 7 posts Seven SEO and HEO caseworker posts Back office support Budget = £540,000
Referrals in 2005 Referrals in 2005 = 3417 c 8% of total FOI requests to central Government High - January = 462 Low - December = 180 Average per week = 66 Breakdown by month and by dept in 2005 annual report
Process Dept uses referral form in toolkit CH logs cases on CMS Allocation meeting Dept told case officer and asked to produce analysis previously formal advice now CH reviews s 17 draft If necessary advise on simultaneous release
FOI requests DCA has refused FOI requests for records relating to cases individual cases - because Parliament created IC to enforce the Act information which would inadvertently expose national security and allow breach of NCND
Ensuring compliance Quarterly monitoring of volumes, timeliness and disclosure rates Each dept has a dedicated relationship manager Regular meetings to review performance Training thro seminars and presentations
Evolution of the Clearing House First referrals: Depts acquired greater capacity gone from formal advice to quick tips and sharing best practice Focus now: ICO and Tribunal cases ensuring depts prepared properly What next?
Commercial users Information laws abused by firms competing for NHS jobs Private companies competing for hospital contracts are abusing FoI laws to obtain commercial details from NHS trusts. The Times Aug 2005
Dealing with requestors Analyse requests and publish proactively reduce burden of requests destroy commercial benefits sought If info of commercial value specify charges in your Publication Scheme license it under PSI regulations
If information sensitive Protect it: s 43 - including commercial interests of the authority s 41 - actionable breach of confidence - must have quality of confidence Mature dialogue with suppliers of information explain FOI protect if sound justification given