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PDP - FOI News Update - 24 April 2018

Council fined after revealing personal data in FOI response
 
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  Issue: 25/04/2018

News

Council fined after revealing personal data in FOI response
After being issued with seven decision notices regarding late FOI responses earlier this month, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office after it unlawfully identified 943 people who owned vacant properties in the borough. The fine was made under the Data Protection Act. Names of the owners and the addresses of their unoccupied homes were sent to three journalists who had requested statistical information under the Freedom of Information Act. The journalists later published three of the names.
Council fails in appeal over FOI request and commercial prejudice
Hartlepool Borough Council has lost an appeal against a ruling by the Information Commissioner because it failed to provide evidence of what harm to commercial interests would be done by disclosing material dating from 2005 and relating to the transfer of ownership of Durham Tees Valley Airport. FOI Applicant John Latimer had made a FOI request for papers relating to how ownership of 75% of the airport came to be transferred by the six Tees Valley local authorities to property firm Peel. Some information was provided but the council withheld the rest, though it later made further releases, and Latimer took his case to the Commissioner, who ruled in his favour. Giving judgment in the First-Tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights), Judge Anisa Dhanji said neither the council nor property firm Peel had shown any convincing reason for keeping private details of the deal they did over the airport.
Labour proposes to make housing associations subject to FOIA
A new Labour Green paper proposes making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act and requiring all social landlords to publish fire safety reports regularly. Currently, housing associations can refuse to answer requests about fire risks, safety problems, eviction policies, waiting lists and other matters. Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey will unveil the paper, titled Housing for the Many, at the Local Government Association headquarters in London this week.
Councillor attacks press use of FOI
An East Renfrewshire councillor has attacked the press and public over Freedom of Information requests. During a recent meeting Labour Member Alan Lafferty slammed "lazy journalists" and political researchers and demanded that those who use FOI laws be "weeded out." Councillor Lafferty also complained about residents' use of FOIs. He said: "We're getting to the stage where it's diverting resources from frontline services." Cllr Lafferty was speaking after it was revealed that the council dealt with a record 1,296 FOI requests last year. That was up by 10 per cent on the previous highest total, with requests from political groups making up 13 per cent of submissions.
BBC obtains copy of "Bruno letter"
The BBC has obtained a document that sheds new light on the decision by British politician Jeremy Thorpe's lawyers not to let him give evidence at his Old Bailey trial in the 1970s, when he was charged of conspiracy and incitement to murder. The letter was from Mr Thorpe to an American man called Bruno, sent after they had met in San Francisco in 1961. Had Mr Thorpe given evidence, he would have faced questioning about his sexuality which he wanted to avoid. The FOI Specialist Martin Rosenbaum received the "Bruno letter" and connected records from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation after making an FOI request under US Freedom of Information law.
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Professional and practical Training Courses enable delegates to understand the legal requirements in key areas of compliance.  
 
The following is a selection of some of PDP's current courses.  
Estelle Dehon, Cornerstone Barristers
Estelle Dehon
Cornerstone Barristers
Since the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into force in 2005 we have experienced a fundamental change in the relationship between UK government and its citizens as government information has become more publicly accessible. Greater transparency is also a key policy of the Coalition Government, and in light of the deficit reduction programme there is an ever increasing public interest in how public money is spent. This has led to the publication of a wide range of public sector datasets and proposals to expand the Freedom of Information Act through the Protection of Freedoms Bill. Information Officers are central to these developments and need to be fully aware of the Act and the impact of future changes to it.This training session is designed to help those who are on the receiving end of requests for information and those who advise and assist them.This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information.Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Belfast           Monday, 24th September 2018
  • Manchester   Tuesday, 16th October 2018
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download the PDF Training Catalogue 

 
FOI Practical Training - Level 2 (Applying the Exemptions)
Liz Fitzsimons, Eversheds
Liz Fitsimons
Eversheds

Public sector bodies must make daily decisions on how to respond to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and how to apply the exemptions in the Act. Those decisions are increasingly reviewed and, in many cases, overturned by the Information Commissioner, the Information Tribunal and the Courts. As case law develops and changes, public authorities need to ensure that they understand when the exemptions can be applied, and what they have to demonstrate to apply them correctly.This training session considers in detail the practical application of the main FOI exemptions.A discount is available for delegates booking both FOI Level 1 and FOI Level 2.This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information.Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Belfast           Tuesday, 25th September 2018
  • Manchester    Wednesday, 17th October 2018
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download the PDF Training Catalogue 

FOI and Data Protection - How They Work Together

Damien Welfare, Cornerstone Barristers
Damien Welfare Cornerstone Barristers
The competing demands of Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation in the UK present challenges for all public bodies involved in collecting, holding and disclosing personal information. Understanding the interface between Freedom of Information laws (including the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)) and the Data Protection Act 1998 (as well as the provisions of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation) is essential for all those involved with information management in the public sector.This session, which is designed for people who already work with FOI issues, explains the key principles underlying the differences between FOI and data protection laws, including when personal data should and should not be released in response to subject access requests and FOI/EIR requests. Delegates who do not have an existing understanding of the basics of FOI law are recommended to attend FOI Level 1 before attending this session.This session enables delegates to understand how to manage requests for information, and to achieve best practice within their organisation.This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information.Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Belfast            Wednesday, 26th September 2018
  • Manchester    Thursday, 18th October 2018
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download the PDF Training Catalogue 
 
Understanding the Environmental Information Regulations
Damien Welfare, Cornerstone Barristers
Damien Welfare Cornerstone Barristers
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 cover a wide range of information which has often been assumed to fall under the Freedom of Information Act.The scope of EIR is not restricted just to "green" subjects or information, but extends to land use, planning, transport, waste, energy, agriculture, housing development, public nuisance, and aspects of public health, food safety, buildings maintenance and cultural sites.Public authorities and their advisors, and those contracting with the public sector or carrying out public functions, need to understand the scope of the Regulations in order to handle information requests correctly. This session explains the meaning and scope of the EIR. It examines in detail the boundary with FOI, based on decisions of the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal and on guidance from DEFRA; including the potential role of a remoteness test in limiting the range of information covered. It analyses the "exceptions" and how to approach the public interest test.The course equips practitioners to recognise and handle practical issues arising under the Regulations with confidence, and to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with information requests under the wrong regime.This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information.Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Belfast            Thursday, 27th September 2018
  • Manchester    Friday, 19th October 2018
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download the PDF Training Catalogue 
The latest edition (Volume 14, Issue 3), features the following articles:Back to the FOIA: how FOIA affects historical records - Paul Gibbons, aka FOIManTo hold, or not to hold - that is the question - Lynn Wyeth, Leicester City CouncilRecent decisions of the Commissioner and Tribunal - Alison Berridge & Imogen Proud, Monckton Chambers
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For more information, please visit PDP Journals


Advanced Records Management Training
Glasgow - 22nd June 2018
 
 

This training course provides an in-depth analysis of the key issues and challenges facing those responsible for the management of records and information in the current business environment.
 
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PDP Training Catalogue 2018  
available for download
 
Browse through PDP's leading information compliance qualifications and training courses 
 
PDP Training Catalogue 2018 
  
 
     
Flexible training options allow you to train alongside other commitments  
   
 
"I am very pleased to have achieved the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information. The programme provides excellent knowledge and understanding on the practical applications of handling requests for information"
Louise Smith
Financial Ombudsman Service
"A very worthwhile qualification which I wholeheartedly recommend to colleagues"
Barbara Tyldesley
The Environment Agency
"I am so pleased to have passed the Practitioner Certificate in FOI. The 4 day course was excellent and I am now confident in my role as FOI Officer for Social Services. The course has helped me develop my skills and knowledge of FOI/EIR and DP and I would encourage anyone working in this area to attend."
Rachael Strand
Flintshire County Council
"The Practitioner Certificate in FOI was an excellent opportunity to receive specialised training and gain a recognised qualification. In particular, I found the instructors to be both knowledgeable and engaging. As a regulator in an overseas territory, I was easily able to translate the learning into practice. I have and do encourage other FOI practitioners to take advantage of this training programme."
Clara Smith
Information Commissioner's Office (Grand Cayman)
"I am delighted to have passed my examination, achieving this qualification and attending the courses have been a very positive experience which have boosted my confidence and enthusiasm for this subject. I found the courses very informative and the course handout binders are an excellent reference tool which is very relevant to the workplace."
Julie Johnson
Durham County Council
"I'm delighted to have passed the exam; it was hard work preparing for an exam, having not sat one for over 10 years, but the course materials really helped structure my revision. Passing has increased my confidence in dealing with the Act which will be of benefit to myself as well as my organisation."
Heledd Thomas
Comisiynydd y Gymraeg
"I found this to be a comprehensive course, which was well structured to be relevant and of interest to everyone from FOI beginners to more seasoned practitioners. The course tutors were very knowledgeable and clearly very interested in their respective topic areas, and the course was similarly detailed and well-taught."
Mark Reynolds
Barclays
"I'm thrilled to have gained this qualification. FOI can be a complicated area to understand and apply, but the tutors were excellent in bringing it to life in an interesting way."
Angela Sanderson
Big Lottery Fund
"The Practitioner's Certificate has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to undertake my role. I found the courses well presented and easy to follow. The case studies are particularly useful, as they give an insight into different scenarios that one may experience. I would recommend PDP to anyone wanting to gain this qualification."
Kim Starbuck
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham "Both the thought provoking training and materials as well as passing the exam will help to ensure we provide a prompt quality service when dealing with information requests particularly as those involving planning can raise complex issues"
John Pierce
The Department for Communities and Local Government 
 
PDP, Canterbury Court, Kennington Park, London, SW9 6DE, United Kingdom
 
 
 

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