Freedom of Information: Complaints

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 1st March 2021.

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Photo of Dehenna Davison Dehenna Davison Conservative, Bishop Auckland

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the average length of delay in initiating the investigation of complaints submitted to the Information Commissioner under section 50(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is; and what steps he is taking to tackle that delay.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Minister of State

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) is regulated and enforced independently of Government by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO is dealing with rapidly growing numbers of complaints; currently it receives around 100 new complaints a week. The ICO responds to all FOI complaints with an email acknowledging receipt, which sets out current expected timescales for a response. All complaints are triaged: investigations into relatively simple cases usually commence within 30 days of receipt, while more complex cases may take up to 7 months to be allocated to an ICO officer for investigation.

The ICO is taking steps to increase its resources in this area so that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible, whilst ensuring a high quality of response.

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