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FOI Response - Herts Constabulary (Read 42,884 times)
Heinz
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #15 - Aug 15th, 2005 at 3:21pm
 
Quote:
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.

I may be wrong but don't such administrative falures fall into the 'complaints against police' catagory and need to be the subject of separate complaints (i.e. outwith the FOI procedures).
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« Last Edit: Aug 15th, 2005 at 3:22pm by Heinz »  

After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #16 - Aug 17th, 2005 at 12:03am
 
My own timeline with Herts:

June 22 FOI request sent by email
July 20 Reminder sent to Herts police
July 22 Complaint sent to Information Commissioner
Aug 1 Acknowledgement from IC (we're busy but we're working on it etc)

So almost two months from the FOI request, a complete silence from Herts police.
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #17 - Aug 17th, 2005 at 2:19pm
 
An update.

IC have just written to me to say I have to wait till herts constab  internal review proceedure has been completed before I can do a section 50 complaint.

50. - (1) Any person (in this section referred to as "the complainant") may apply to the Commissioner for a decision whether, in any specified respect, a request for information made by the complainant to a public authority has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of Part I.

     (2) On receiving an application under this section, the Commissioner shall make a decision unless it appears to him-

 

     (a) that the complainant has not exhausted any complaints procedure which is provided by the public authority in conformity with the code of practice under section 45,

 

     (b) that there has been undue delay in making the application,

 

     (c) that the application is frivolous or vexatious, or

 

     (d) that the application has been withdrawn or abandoned.

     (3) Where the Commissioner has received an application under this section, he shall either-

 

     (a) notify the complainant that he has not made any decision under this section as a result of the application and of his grounds for not doing so, or

 

     (b) serve notice of his decision (in this Act referred to as a "decision notice") on the complainant and the public authority.

     (4) Where the Commissioner decides that a public authority-

 

     (a) has failed to communicate information, or to provide confirmation or denial, in a case where it is required to do so by section 1(1), or

 

     (b) has failed to comply with any of the requirements of sections 11 and 17,

  the decision notice must specify the steps which must be taken by the authority for complying with that requirement and the period within which they must be taken.

     (5) A decision notice must contain particulars of the right of appeal conferred by section 57.

     (6) Where a decision notice requires steps to be taken by the public authority within a specified period, the time specified in the notice must not expire before the end of the period within which an appeal can be brought against the notice and, if such an appeal is brought, no step which is affected by the appeal need be taken pending the determination or withdrawal of the appeal.

     (7) This section has effect subject to section 53.
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #18 - Aug 18th, 2005 at 12:21am
 
Thanks mc661

Guess I'll have to be patient ??? and wait for the outcome of my internal review/appeal for now

thanks also for posting Quote:
mailto:Susannah.JOHNSON@herts.pnn.police.uk
below - now saved me a bit of time dealing with these bureaucrats - I'd tried every variation of her name except that one!

Quote:
I may be wrong but don't such administrative falures fall into the 'complaints against police' catagory and need to be the subject of separate complaints (i.e. outwith the FOI procedures).

Fair point, apart from, in my opinion, the follow up questions. However, because they view these merely as a reply to their reply, Herts police believe the 20-day rule doesn't apply to them either.

Lesson for me for next time: More questions => complete new FOI request.

And, despite using every excuse in the book to avoid being helpful or doing a good job, public sector workers still can't understand why the rest of us think they're totally unemployable in the real world...
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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 #19 - Sep 5th, 2005 at 3:25pm
 
I just spoke the FOI officer himself with regards to the status of my FOI request and he said that it was going to the Internal Reviews panel at the end of the month.

I asked him why the 20 days timescale didnt apply to them and he said that I would have to make a complaint to the police force. I asked how I would go about it and he said to call an 0845 number!!!!
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #20 - Sep 5th, 2005 at 3:51pm
 
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...I asked him why the 20 days timescale didnt apply to them and he said that I would have to make a complaint to the police force. I asked how I would go about it and he said to call an 0845 number!!!!
Typical and expected.

Their contact us page for FOI requests gives a geo of 01707 638504.
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #21 - Oct 6th, 2005 at 3:11am
 
Letter received today, dated Oct 4, following the internal review:
+++++++++++
Hertfordshire Constabulary's Freedom of Information Review panel met on Sept 27th to review your request for appeal.

The review panel considered your appeal and up held that further information in respect of questions 4, 10, 11 and 12 is to be released under the Freedom of Information Act 2005 (sic). A response shall be forwarded to you within 20 working days and will be with you no later than 25th October 2005.
++++++++

So some progress at least, but I think I'll manage to contain myself until I see the quality of the "further information."

Sarcastic sods franked the envelope with an advert for their 0845 number, so obviously no road to Damascus conversion just yet!
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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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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #22 - Oct 6th, 2005 at 9:14am
 
your lucky, I havent even had a response to their internal review yet.
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mc661
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #23 - Oct 12th, 2005 at 6:15pm
 
This is the response to my internal review request.

APPARENTLY it was sent to me by royal mail on the 29th, amazingly I never recived it. Proof of posting is not proof of receipt,

BY EMAIL 12 OCT 05
On Tuesday 27th September Hertfordshire Constabulary's Freedom of Information Review Panel met to consider your appeal dated 28thJuly 2005 in respect for not meeting the 20 working day deadline under S 10 - Time for compliance with request.
The Review Panel noted that there was a delay in responding to your request for information and this was due to ensuring that the information provided to you would be accurate.
However, the Information Compliance Office should have written to you to inform you of the delay and expected date of when you would receive the information requested. The Information Compliance Office have now reviewed and revised its procedures and will be notifying requestors if there is to be a delay in responding to the request and when they can expect to receive the information requested.
If you feel that Hertfordshire Constabulary have failed to meet your rights under The Freedom of Information Act 2000 then under Section 50 - Application for decision by
Commissioner, you are entitled to contact the Information Commissioners Office as to whether or not Hertfordshire Constabulary acted in accordance with the Act.

The Information Commissioner can refuse an application to review a decision on the grounds of "undue delay in making an application". It is therefore in your best interest, if you wish to make an application to the Information Commissioner to do so as soon as possible
from receiving this final response from Hertfordshire constabulary.
-------

Well they havent commented about why they exempted 2.2 and 2.3 of my original request (listed above). This is what I thought the internal review was supposed to do? I suspect this was yet another cock-up, which they are trying to brush under the carpet.

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GrahamH
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #24 - Oct 17th, 2005 at 11:19pm
 
Received the "Further information" now so here's the complete reply. For continuity, basis for appeal in bold, their new replies shown as quotes:

1. 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
 
2. What is the equivalent geographical number?  

A. 01707 354 000

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

A. Can't tell you - commercially confidential

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

A. Can't tell you - commercially confidential

Other public bodies, including the Department for Education and Skills (DFES), Criminal Records Bureau and the BBC, have now provided exactly this information in response to similar queries. Consequently, please re-examine this non-disclosure under your review procedure, and provide me with the information requested

Question 3 revised answer; Quote:
Hertfordshire Constabulary receive a small percentage of the call cost which assists in funding additional lines rented to support the 0845 service route. Unfortunately we are unable to provide any further information on the amount of revenue received as this is considered commercial in confidence with our supplier.


Question 4 revised answer Quote:
It was agreed by the review panel that the response provided to you was correct and that your request for additional information was not up held.


5. 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

6. Have you considered the revised COI guidelines?  

A. Yes

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

A. That they provided helpful advice

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

A. Yes

9. 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 correctly state in your reply to question 8, all calls cost the same regardless of distance, so, for 30 minutes, I would pay:

EVENINGS / WEEKENDS
From Herts:     0845: 30p, 01707: 5.5p.  
From Penzance:  0845: 30p, 01707: 5.5p

DAYTIME  
From Herts:       0845: 90p, 01707: 90p.  
From Penzance: 0845: 90p, 01707: 90p

ie: it costs me MORE to use the 0845 number evenings or weekends, from either Herts or Penzance. (on an absolutely standard BT Together Option 1 Package)

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

In the light of this, please would you now explain the circumstances in which your reply to question 9 is factually correct (that "0845 numbers have advantages to callers who are not dialling a local number"), as I believe there are none.


Question 8 & 9 revised answer. Quote:
The panel considered these two requests in tangent with one another and agreed that the following information be provided to you.

Hertfordshire Constabulary are aware that local and national calls to an 0845 number are charged the same rate. Therefore it could be argued that for some callers there is a slight disadvantage due to small differences in cost if they should choose to use our 0845 number instead of other published local numbers. However Hertfordshire Constabulary feel by publishing an easy to remember 0845 number this is more beneficial to the community it serves. All callers are still free to use the 01707 354000 published number should they wish to do so. The majority of our callers are local people.

10. 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 their telecom provider and package used.

Please give details of your analysis of the public's cost incurred calling your 0845 number versus your 01707 number, and the benefits received by Hertfordshire Constabulary by opting for the 0845 number rather than 01707.

Question 10 revised answer: Quote:
Hertfordshire Constabulary handles calls in the main for local residents. Therefore we see no difference in call charges should they use our 0845 or 01707 numbers.
We are aware that a very small minority may have use of special discount packages but obviously these people still have a choice of numbers to use and are therefore not disadvantaged.

In respect of benefits received Hertfordshire Constabulary are able to route 0845 traffic to any location of its choice in the event of a central site failure and Hertfordshire Police Authority see the use of an easy to remember 0845 number advantageous.
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« Last Edit: Oct 17th, 2005 at 11:27pm by GrahamH »  

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 #25 - Oct 17th, 2005 at 11:22pm
 
The question numbering got a little confused as I misnumbered one of my queries - don't read anything into the discrepancy between my post further up this page and the question numbers in the last one.
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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 #26 - Oct 17th, 2005 at 11:45pm
 
I shall pause a while and consider how to phrase everything before taking it further.

However, what jumps out at me are:

1. they're wriggling round every little tight definition they can find - "free equipment and or maintenance" instead of "services" in terms of line rental

2. they go on about the fact that we're free to call the 01707 number, but they refuse to promote it

3. they claim only a very small minority are on inclusive packages - does anyone know the figure for how many residential lines are on BT together?

4. they "see no difference" between 30p for 30 mins on 0845 and 5.5p on 01707 in evenings / on weekends from Herts

If I'm being charitable I suppose it's all a bit beyond their mental capacity.   Roll Eyes  If I'm talking to the Information Commissioner it feels like deliberate obstructiveness...

Obviously I welcome all your thoughts on how best to attack this one.
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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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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #27 - Oct 18th, 2005 at 12:06am
 
Re: Question 8 & 9 revised answer:
Quote:
Quote:
The panel considered these two requests in tangent with one another and agreed that the following information be provided to you.

Don't understand that bit? Why would they think that? ???

The response continues:
Quote:
Hertfordshire Constabulary are aware that local and national calls to an 0845 number are charged the same rate.....

But a non-geographical number is by definition, non-geographical, so how can you be a national distance away from a number which isn't tied to a geographical location?? Roll Eyes
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #28 - Oct 18th, 2005 at 12:49am
 
It does appear that some government bodies treat questions about non-geographical numbers with quite a degree of flipancy. For example, take GrahamH's question 7:
Quote:
6. Have you considered the revised COI guidelines? 

A. Yes

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

A. That they provided helpful advice

However, what if you look on this as the literal view? I'm sure that the COI guidelines do provide "helpful advice."

Similarly, the issue that these government organisations seem to think that the local/national call rates still apply is some pre-competition definition. They won't take off their blinkers and 'see' the current market position. From what I can remember of the responses, some admit that 'discounted' packages are available for consumer to 'choose', but that's as far as it goes.

So where should the blame lie for these outdated views of the telecoms world? I think that it should lie at the door of the COI and Ofcom.

From what I understand of the COI, it is there to inform, hence the I in COI! So how about informing government bodies about what's happening in the telecoms world?

I appreciate that it would be wrong for it to promote any one provider above another, but a general overview that most providers charge the same for local calls as national calls would be a step in the right direction.
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« Last Edit: Oct 18th, 2005 at 12:50am by Dave »  
 
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Re: FOI Response - Herts Constabulary
Reply #29 - Mar 21st, 2006 at 9:41pm
 
Below is my response from the IC which upholds the 'vexatious request' argument. I am seeking advice from those with specialist knowledge about how to pursue this. Thanks.

<<
I have now concluded my investigation into the way Hertfordshire Constabulary (the Constabulary) handled your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).

You alleged that the Constabulary failed to respond to your request for information within the twenty working day time limit, as required by section 10 of the Act.  Your initial request was made on 22nd June 2005 and yet you did not receive a response until 12th October 2005.  The Constabulary has advised me that its systems have been searched there is no record of your emails dated 22nd June and 20th July 2005.  However you have provided these emails in support of your complaint and I am therefore satisfied that the Constabulary breached section 10 in this respect.  I have asked the Constabulary to ensure there is no reason why emails sent to the foi@herts.pnn.police.uk email account should not be received, to assist those wishing to make FOI requests in the future.    

You complained about the Constabulary’s refusal to provide you with information in response to your FOI request on the grounds section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) applied; namely that the request was vexatious.  I am satisfied that the Constabulary correctly applied section 14 in this case.  I will outline the reasons for this below.

The Constabulary initially refused to provide information on the grounds your request was repeated / vexatious.  I asked for clarification on exactly which of these provisions was relied upon, and the Constabulary confirmed that your request had been considered vexatious and not repeated.

Public authorities are not required to provide information in response to FOI requests where the request can be considered vexatious.  There is no definition of ‘vexatious’ within the Act, however the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced guidance to assist in the interpretation of this section.  It is available at the following link:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/documentUploads/AG 22 Vexatious Paper - Final.pdf

As you will see from this paper, the use of the vexatious provision is likely to be upheld by the ICO if the request:

·      does not have any serious purpose or value;
·      is designed to cause disruption or annoyance;
·      has the effect of harassing the authority;
·      can otherwise be characterised as obsessive or manifestly unreasonable.

It will generally be possible to identify a request as vexatious if:

·      the applicant explicitly makes clear it is his intention to cause a public authority inconvenience by making a request;
·      the authority has independent knowledge of the intention of the applicant to cause inconvenience by making a request.

I asked the Constabulary to justify its use of the vexatious provision.  The Constabulary provided printouts from messages posted on a website called ‘SayNoto0870.com’, which it alleges were posted by you.  Extracts from the message boards are as follows:

·      On 21st June 2005: “Irrespective of whether it gives you the info you want, it costs these organisations a fortune to respond to FOI requests from the public”;
·      On 22nd June 2005: “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”;
·      On 12th October 2005: “I’m actually pleased that they have issued a refusal notice”; and “My appeal is ready to go, I’m just seeing who I can copy this into for maximum effect”.

I asked the Constabulary to substantiate why it believed these messages were posted by you.  The following was provided as justification:

·      The correspondence from the Constabulary has always been extremely applicant specific and has appeared immediately on the ‘Say No to 0870’ website;
·      The username of the person posting the messages is ‘idb’ and all correspondence to the Constabulary has been under the name of [me]’;
·      The messages state that ‘idb’ is writing from Miami;
·      You have stated your intention to “make all FOI requests available in the public domain”.

I am therefore satisfied that the messages posted on the ‘Say No to 0870’ website demonstrate the request made to the Constabulary was vexatious.  I am also satisfied that the Constabulary has provided sufficient evidence that the messages were posted by you.

Section 50 of the Act obliges the Commissioner to issue a Decision Notice unless the person making the complaint is prepared to withdraw it.  I would therefore invite you to withdraw your complaint, as any Decision Notice issued will find in favour of the Constabulary on the section 14 issue.  The Commissioner will not issue a decision simply in respect of the section 10 issue in this case, as to do so would serve no useful purpose.

If you disagree with my decision and wish to have the opportunity to appeal to the Information Tribunal please let me know and I shall draft a Decision Notice which reflects the arguments advanced above.

I look forward to hearing from you.
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