PDP - FOI News Update - 30 August 2018

Journalist wins two-and-a-half-year FOI battle at Upper Tribunal
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  Issue: 30/08/2018


Journalist wins two-and-a-half-year FOI battle at Upper Tribunal
Journalist Claire Miller has won her long battle for information on homelessness from the government. Ms Miller's request, made in December 2015, was refused on the grounds that it was not in the public interest to release the relevant files, because the government had to redact personal information in order to prevent individuals from being identified. In coming to her findings, Judge Markus said neither the government nor the ICO had "advanced any possible basis on which individuals could be identified from the data". She concluded: "Moreover, it is quite fantastical to suppose that, several years later, there would be anyone sufficiently motivated to try to identify an individual to which the data related. The information... is not such as is likely to attract those with investigative skills, such as a journalist, to attempt to identify individuals." Ms Miller commented: "This decision is a reminder that public bodies should go through the process of assessing whether the information is actually personal data and identifiable no matter how small the numbers are."
ICO upholds complaint against Sussex police
The Information Commissioner's Office has upheld a complaint made against Sussex police, which has been trying to avoid explaining allegations it made about Crystal Palace supporters being armed with "knives and knuckle-dusters" at a game against Brighton last November. Fanzine Five Year Plan attempted to learn about the allegations by submitting FOI requests late last year, but the force refused disclosure on public interest grounds. The ICO has now issued a decision notice requiring the force to respond.
Police force misinterprets information request
Suffolk Police has confirmed that it misunderstood a request for information about thefts near cashpoints, leading it to issue incorrect information. Price comparison website MoneySuperMarket had compiled statistics, based on the police force's FOI release, claiming that the town of Bury St Edmunds had more thefts and robberies near cashpoints per resident than any other town or city in the country over the last decade. Following the publication of the MoneySupermarket report, Suffolk Police reviewed the original FOI request and realised it had been 'misinterpreted'. This led to the force's response including 800 incidents across the county, when the correct total was in fact 189.
FOI qualification - latest exam results
The results of the Summer 2018 Examination on the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information Programme have been announced. Joanna Wallis, Freedom of Information and Governance Officer at the University of the West of England, one of the successful candidates, said "The four days of training and detailed course materials helped me to prepare for the exam and gave me a good understanding of my new role as FOI Officer. I now feel ready for anything, though I do keep my course ring binders handy - just in case!" The names and organisations of the successful candidates will be published in an upcoming edition of Freedom of Information Journal.
MP Charlie Elphicke submits FOI requests about Channel illegal immigration
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has submitted a series of FOI requests to the Home Office regarding illegal immigrants following a series of high profile cases. Mr Elphicke said: "The number of stories surfacing in recent weeks is extremely concerning. That's why I have asked the Home Office for a detailed breakdown. We need to get a sense of the scale of this problem. It will help make an even stronger case for the investment I have been calling for to ensure our borders are truly safe and secure". Mr Elphicke says there needs to be proper investment in border security and no "Dad's Army-style" set-up.
Full transparency demanded over talks between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon has been warned it would be "completely unacceptable" to keep hidden from the public the nature of her discussions with Alex Salmond after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Opposition parties demanded "full transparency" and called on the First Minister to reveal what was said in three meetings with her predecessor, after two female civil servants accused him of harassment. Labour said it wanted to know whether Mr Salmond, who strongly denies the allegations, had asked her to intervene in an official government investigation on his behalf. The party has submitted freedom of information requests in a bid to reveal what was discussed by the current and former First Minister, and is seeking the release of any minutes of the talks.
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Nottingham University Hospitals NHS TrustSubscribe to two or more journals at the same time and receive a discount
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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
  • London          Monday, 22nd 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

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
  • London          Tuesday, 23rd 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 
John Wilson, Mosaic
Organisations face increasing pressure to manage their records according to statutory and business requirements. As the use of electronic records and the deployment of electronic document and records management systems continue to increase, the core skills of the person responsible for records management become ever more important to the organisation. In many cases, appropriate data protection and FOI compliance will depend upon a good records management system.This invaluable training session, led by John Wilson, examines core concepts of good records management practice.Records Management 1 is an introductory level session that provides delegates with a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of records management, including:
  • introduction - basic concepts
  • records management tools
  • records lifecycle approach
  • designing a file plan
  • records destruction
  • legal framework / compliance
  • management of electronic records and email 
Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Edinburgh      Thursday, 4th October 2018
  • Isle of Man     Thursday, 18th October 2018  
  • Belfast            Thursday, 25th 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 

This course examines how to implement good records management practice. Led by John Wilson, Records Management 2 is an intermediate level session that provides a grounding in the fundamentals of records management, including:
  • introduction - initiating a records management project
  • records audit
  • process mapping
  • building a business classification scheme
  • measuring performance
  • sustaining a records management programme
Delegates are encouraged to share their own experiences at the session. The day will be a mixture of presentation and practical exercises. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions.Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Edinburgh       Friday, 5th October 2018
  • Isle of Man      Friday, 19th October 2018 
  • Belfast             Friday, 26th October 2018 
A discount is available for delegates attending both the Level 1 and Level 2 sessions, as well as for multiple delegates attending from the same organisation.
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 

Next training sessions taking place in Edinburgh, Isle of Man and Belfast
Records Management Levels 1 & 2
These highly practical sessions provide a thorough grounding and examine the core concepts of good records management practice (crucial for effective FOI and Data Protection compliance).  
The latest edition (Volume 14, Issue 4), 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
Next training sessions taking place in Belfast, Manchester & London 


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 training 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.
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
"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 
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