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FOI Response - Herts Constabulary (Read 42,844 times)
GrahamH
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FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Jun 22nd, 2005 at 12:13am
 
Following  this part of a previous thread

Quote:
Surrey Police also now have a totally faceless call centre on 0845 which answers the calls quickly but which everyone hates because the staff have no local area knowledge.

The reason they did it of course was because they got the call centre phone equipment and ongoing maintenance cheaper because of the subsidy from the members of the public calling them.  Nominally they don't get the money directly but as they pay less for the equipment and the phone system maintenance in practice they do get the cash.


Quote:
If a journalist were able to get some gormless PC purchasing officer up for interview......

"So officer - you've saved Surrey Constabulary a one-off couple of hundred £££ on equipment - but do you realise the general public now has to pay £X thousand every year in premium rate costs as a result?"

Multiply by 300 doctors' surgeries, add in all the other state bodies, and the bill would be a big number, hopefully enough to get some big cheeses to take notice.

Trouble is we don't yet know the savings and extra cost numbers to use to make the case...



I finally received a response from Herts Constabulary (took them two months rather than 20 working days, as they claim they first had to undertake research, and then work out whether they were exempt from giving the answers!)

Using kk's handy template, I got the following: (responses shortened and paraphrased as the reply came as hard copy only)

Q. Why do you use 0845 numbers?

A. Herts police requested a single number as part of creating a call centre, and we wanted it to be easily memorable
   
Q. What is the equivalent geographical number? 

A. 01707 354 000

(obviously far more difficult to remember than 0845 3300 222 ..??)

Q. What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0845 numbers? 

A. Can't tell you - commercially confidential

Q. Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your callers?

A. Can't tell you - commercially confidential

Q. What would have been the cost of any free equipment  or maintenance you obtained by agreeing to use your telecom provider's 0845 number

A. No free equipment or maintenance was obtained or required

Q. Have you considered the revised COI guidelines? 

A. Yes

Q. If so, what conclusions did you come to?   

A. That they provided helpful advice

Q. Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same? 

A. Yes

Q. Do you realise that 0845 numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective or their location, only disadvantages? 

(And this is hilarious, especially straight after the previous answer...)
A. 0845 numbers offer advantages to to callers who are NOT dialling a local number. But one can still use the geographical number, and most people who call are local.

Q. Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, when using 0845 numbers? 

A. Callers are free to use the 0845 number or other published numbers, and the costs may depend on oon their telecom provider and package used.
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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idb
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #1 - Jun 22nd, 2005 at 12:31am
 
As it has not answered some of your questions, citing commercial confidentiality or some other BS, you should now ask for an internal review. There is no need to withhold such information and other government agencies are providing these data. If it still fails to provide the info, then appeal to the IC. Irrespective of whether it gives you the info you want, it costs these organizations a fortune to respond to FOI requests from the public. The more they have to pay, the more is eroded from their fat profits from NGNs. They need to understand that using these numbers has consequences, one of which is that the public, who they are supposed to serve, has a right to know certain details! Good luck.
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #2 - Jun 22nd, 2005 at 1:08am
 
So unfortunately we're no nearer finding out the kickbacks received, and therefore still unable to give public bodies the cost benefit analysis they seem unable to do for themselves, which I am convinced would be the real "case against" this scam

However, I am dying to find out Herts police response to this one: "Thank you for your letter dated DD/MM/YYYY. I am puzzled by these responses:

Quote:
Q7. Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same?   

A. Yes

Q8. Do you realise that 0845 numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective or their location, only disadvantages?   

A. 0845 numbers offer advantages to to callers who are NOT dialling a local number. But one can still use the geographical number, and most people who call are local.


as you point out in your reply to Q7, all calls cost the same regardless of distance, so, for 15 minutes, I would pay:
EVENINGS / WEEKENDS
Herts:                              0845: 15p, 01707: nothing.
Penzance:  0845: 15p, 01707: nothing
DAYTIME
Herts:                 0845: 45p, 01707: 45p.
Penzance: 0845: 45p, 01707: 45p
ie: it costs me MORE to use the 0845 number evenings or weekends, from anywhere.  (on my bog standard BT Package)

And in daytime, even if I call you from Penzance, the saving if I use 0845 is precisely NOTHING.

Please now explain the Quote:
"advantages to callers who are NOT dialling a local number"
such as me calling from Penzance

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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #3 - Jun 22nd, 2005 at 1:10am
 
Thanks idb

I was still writing my 2nd bit when you posted your reply, so our messages crossed. Will add your comments into my letter

Graham
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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Dave
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #4 - Jun 22nd, 2005 at 1:19am
 
Quote:
Q. Have you considered the revised COI guidelines?

A. Yes

Q. If so, what conclusions did you come to?

A. That they provided helpful advice

That's it?! No other conclusions? LOL Roll Eyes

Quote:
Q. Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, when using 0845 numbers?

A. Callers are free to use the 0845 number or other published numbers, and the costs may depend on oon their telecom provider and package used.

This doesn't answer the question. It just shrugs off the issues and passes the book to telecom providers.

Alot of those questions require a yes/no answer. The above question is clearly worded "Are you aware of...?" and not "What are...?" It's to be hoped that they have a better command and understanding of the English language when upholding the law.
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idb
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #5 - Jun 22nd, 2005 at 1:25am
 
I will be making my own FOI request to Herts tomorrow. Even though I live 4500 miles away, I am a British citizen that has a right and possibly a need to contact police forces. One example - for US immigrant visas, and probably for some other countries, people need to obtain police certificates, as I did, before establishing permanent residence. Now if people are resident overseas only on tourist or temporary visas and need to contact the police force to obtain such certificates (as I had to), 0845 numbers are often not terminated from abroad. If these idiotic departments are shifting to discriminatory numbering systems, then I have no hesitation in submitting FOI requests that will probably cost them at least a hundred pounds to process and hopefully much more. Clueless government in the UK has to stop.
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As from November 21, 2013, I no longer participate in the forum and am unable to receive private messages.
 
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #6 - Jun 22nd, 2005 at 2:20pm
 
I think I will also submit my slightly amdended 3 page long FOI request as well.
But my questions are worded slightly differently so they cant drumb up a standard response to them all.
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #7 - Jun 23rd, 2005 at 1:53am
 
idb, mc661, Thanks for your support.

The email address for Herts Constabulary FOI requests is foi@herts.pnn.police.uk

Dave, good point about the lack of an answer to that question, I have incorporated a re-request into my follow up.

Hope it won't take them two months this time round...!
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #8 - Jul 9th, 2005 at 4:28pm
 
Obviously this week's work by you guys on the London Emergency number may help add weight to this one too.

Letter received saying my request for an internal review will go before the Herts Constabulary FOI Panel on September 27th.

It says the Freedom of Information Officer will prepare a report which will be presented to the panel, but that he will also present my case and put forward any points I wish to make.

So, is this the usual public service stitch up where one department justifies its previous actions to the panel and then explains, on my behalf, why I have no just cause to get the information?

Or is there a process for getting myself along to the "hearing" ? Has anyone any experience of working with these FOI officers? There's no further detail about process in the letter.

It reminds me of the doctors' disciplinary boards and previous inter-constabulary investigations where they all protect their own...!

The letter said a copy was to be emailed to me, but that's obviously too high tec for them!

Still, it's costing them money and time - latest letter signed by the FOI officer himself, rather than the deputy who did it last time, so I've moved up the food chain slightly!

Graham
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #9 - Jul 20th, 2005 at 2:09am
 
oh dear, herts have failed the 20 business working days to respond to my request, whooopsie. looks like im gonna have to do a section 50.
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #10 - Jul 28th, 2005 at 5:24pm
 
Just had the message which is still late under the 20 days rule.

Amazing how I get a response once I start a complaint with the Information Comissioner. I will still proceed with the complaint under section 50 of the act.

Oh and I sent the complaint on headed letterhead from the local council as im a local councillor.


-----Original Message-----
From: Susannah.JOHNSON@herts.pnn.police.uk [mailto:Susannah.JOHNSON@herts.pnn.police.uk]
Sent: 28 July 2005 14:04
To: me [censored]
Cc: Tanya.DRAKE@herts.pnn.police.uk
Subject: Your request for information: Our ref: FOI00219
Importance: High

Dear Mr ,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) dated 22nd June concerning 0870, 0845 and 0844 numbers.  This request was logged as received by Hertfordshire Constabulary's Information Compliance Office on 23rd June 2005 in accordance with the ACPO National FOI guidance on processing FOI requests.  The deadline for Hertfordshire Constabulary to respond to your request in accordance with legislative 20 working days requirement was 21st July 2005. 

I understand that a message was left by you with my colleague to enquire as to why you have not received a response.  I apologise for the delay and for not updating you with the status of your request.  The officer who was dealing with your request has been out of the office recently due to personal reasons.  There has been an administrative error in that your request was not passed to me to deal with in the officer's absence.

I am currently preparing a response to your request and estimate that this will be sent to you no later than 5th August 2005.

Yours sincerely

Suzy Johnson
Deputy Freedom of Information Officer
Information Compliance Office
Hertfordshire Constabulary
Tel:  01707 63 8504
Fax:  01707 35 46 69
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« Last Edit: Aug 17th, 2005 at 1:34pm by mc661 »  
 
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #11 - Aug 3rd, 2005 at 6:57pm
 
Information Compliance Office
Police Headquarters
Stanborough Road
Welwyn Garden City
Hertfordshire AL8 6XF

Tel: 01707 354 659

3rd August 2005
Dear Councillor

Reference No: FOI00219

I write in connection with your request for information dated 22nd June 2005 concerning questions on 0870, 0845 and 0844 numbers and whether Hertfordshire Constabulary currently uses these numbers. This request was logged as received by the Hertfordshire Constabulary Information Compliance on 23rd June 2005. The deadline for Hertfordshire Constabulary to respond your request was 21st July 2005.

I sincerely apologise for the delay in responding to you and not being within the 20 working day time limit under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. I understand from your email of 28th July 2005 that you would like an internal appeal/review of your question prior to you then taking your concerns to the Information Commissioner. I replied to this email on 29th July 2005 attaching our internal appeals process. I also stated that a response to your request would be provided by 5th August 2005. A letter advising you of the next appeal session is also enclosed for your information.

In your request you asked the following questions and a response has been given underneath each question posed:

1. Do you use 0870 telephone numbers?
Hertfordshire Constabulary does not use 0870 numbers.
<snip>

2. Why do you use 0845 numbers?
This is a single use number for contact purposes to allow the public an easy to remember number should they wish to use it. The Hertfordshire Police Authority had requested a single contact number as part of the creation of a centralised call centre. A 01707 number is still published for those callers that wish to use it as an alternative contact telephone number.

2.1 And if so, what are the equivalent geographical numbers?
The equivalent geographical number is 01707 35 40 00.

2.2 What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0845 numbers?
It is not possible to disclose this information as it is commercial in confidence. The exemptions used and public interest test applied in respect of this is question are detailed below.

2.3 Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your callers?
It is not possible to disclose this information as it is commercial in confidence. The exemptions used and public interest test applied in respect of this is question are detailed below.

2.4 Have you considered the revised COI guidelines?
The revised COI guidelines were considered.

2.4.1 If so, what conclusions did you come to?
The guidelines provided some helpful advice however The Home Office also produced a document called Open All Hours which required police forces to be more open and accessible to members of the public and this document was also taken into consideration. The Call Handling section 7.3 on page 134 of this document states that forces must improve their response to non-emergency calls. Page 137 also discusses the use of a single non-emergency telephone number.
The web address for this document is:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/openallhours.pdf

2.5 Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same regardless if calling from Penzance or Hatfield?
Hertfordshire Constabulary does realise that all calls to the 0845 number both local and national cost the same.

2.6 Do you realise that 0845 numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective of their location, only disadvantages?
0845 numbers have advantages to callers who are not dialling a local number.
For some callers it could be argued that there are slight differences due to small differences in call cost should callers choose to use the 0845 number instead of the published local number. We feel that offering an easy to remember 0845 number is more beneficial to the community. All callers are still free to use the 01707 354000 published number should they wish to. The majority of our callers are local people.

2.7 Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, when using 0845 numbers?
Hertfordshire Constabulary are aware that for some callers the cost may be marginally higher however the local published number is still available to them should they choose to use it instead of the 0845 number.

2.8 How much does it cost to call an 0845 number…
2.8.1 In the Daytime
It costs 3.36 pence per minute during the daytime.

2.8.2 In the Evening
It costs 1.26 pence per minute in the evening.

2.8.3 At weekends
It costs 0.85 pence per minute at weekends.

3. Why do you use 0844 numbers?
Hertfordshire Constabulary does not use 0870 numbers.
<snip>
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« Last Edit: Aug 3rd, 2005 at 6:58pm by mc661 »  
 
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #12 - Aug 3rd, 2005 at 6:58pm
 

In relation to the withheld information in questions 2.2 and 2.3, the following Freedom of Information Act 2000 exemptions are applicable: S.41 (a) – Information
Provided in Confidence and S.43, Commercial Interests.

These exemptions apply because:
• Information contained within contracts/service agreements and related documentation between suppliers/providers and Hertfordshire Constabulary is confidential.
Some of the exemptions above are also subject to a public interest test. This test has been applied and is detailed below.

Favouring Disclosure:
Accountability
Correct use of public funds and resources are of significant interest to the community as it relates to the efficiency and effectiveness of the force.

Favouring Non Disclosure:
Exemption Provisions
Where one of more of the exemption provisions applies and gives rise to a public interest consideration favouring non-disclosure.

Interests of Third Parties
Where third party interests may be jeopardises by release of information that relates to personal affairs of individuals and/or sensitive commercial information held about business, financial, contractual or operating issues.

On balance, it is considered that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

I am sorry that Hertfordshire Constabulary could not provide all of the information you requested in this instance. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further assistance.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in HertfordshireConstabulary.

Yours sincerely
Suzy Johnson
Deputy Freedom of Information Officer
Information Compliance Office
-------
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #13 - Aug 3rd, 2005 at 7:00pm
 
Dear Councillor,

Reference: Formal Appeal against Hertfordshire Constabulary Freedom of Information Response:

Thank you for your email dated 28th July 2005 in which you have asked for your request for information dated 22nd June 2005 regarding the use of 0870, 0845 and 0844 numbers together with our response to this request, be placed before the next internal appeals panel.

I can confirm your request for a review will be placed before the Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Freedom of Information Appeal Panel on 27th September 2005.

A further copy of our appeals process has been provided for your information.

Yours sincerely
Suzy Johnson
Deputy Freedom of Information Officer
Information Compliance Office
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #14 - Aug 15th, 2005 at 1:54pm
 
They failed the 20 day service level on my follow up questions too (Sent June 23rd, still no reply!), plus promised me copies of letters by email and the return of a phone call, both of which haven't happened.

Obviously the FOI department is a bit of a shambles. How do I do a "Section 50?"

Still, both mc661's and my requests will be going before the same internal appeals panel, which should help things along
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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