Three London councils have been asked by the Information Commissioner’s Office to sign formal undertakings to improve their response times to FOI request while four other London bodies, including the Metropolitan Police Service, have been warned of “areas of concern.”
The ICO says it has been monitoring the performance of 33 local and national government bodies including the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence and Birmingham City Council “about which the Commissioner has particular concerns.” Discussions “on appropriate regulatory action” against those bodies causing concern “are now taking place.”
In London, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Islington councils have been asked to sign undertakings to improve their performance as has Wolverhampton City Council.
The ICO says 26 other bodies have improved sufficiently to avoid formal action however Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has written to the Met Police, Croydon and Newham councils “to put on record that, while all of them are now meeting the required standard, the monitoring has revealed some areas of concern.”
The same warning has also been issued to the Scotland Office, the Home Office and NHS North West.
Mr Graham said: “Responding promptly to FOI requests is key to delivering citizens’ rights. Too many public authorities are taking too long to decide either way whether to release information or to refuse requests.”
The Commissioner added: “I am delighted that over two thirds of the authorities whose performance we have been monitoring have managed to overcome their problems. However, the remaining authorities have not done enough to convince us that they have a clear and credible plan for getting back on track. Over the next four weeks, we shall be discussing appropriate next steps with them.”