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Enforcement action taken after IPCC fails to respond to FOI requests

The Information Commissioner’s Office has taken enforcement action against the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for failing to respond to FOI requests within the 20 day time limit. The enforcement notice states:

This action was prompted by a letter from the IPCC which stated that it was experiencing difficulties in responding to requests for information under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “Act”).  The IPCC confirmed to the Commissioner that it had a backlog of 72 requests, 69 of which were ‘out of time’.  In addition to this backlog, the Commissioner was aware that he had received nine complaints under section 50 of the Act which identified a failure to respond to requests for information within the statutory time limits, four of which remained outstanding at the time of drafting this notice.

The IPCC has repeatedly failed to respond to requests for information within the statutory time limits.  Further the Commissioner is concerned that the timescale proposed by the IPCC for the elimination of its backlog of overdue requests may not be met, unless the authority is compelled to take such action by way of an Enforcement Notice. 

This is only the second time the Commissioner has issued an enforcement notice under s.52 of the FOI Act. The first was in relation to multiple complaints about the non-disclosure of the Attorney General’s advice on the legality of military intervention in Iraq. Failure to comply with an enforcement notice could result in the Commissioner referring the matter to the High Court where it can be dealt with as contempt of court.

A copy of the enforcement notice is here. The ICO’s Enforcement Strategy is here.

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