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DEFRA (Read 22,129 times)
derrick
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DEFRA
Mar 31st, 2006 at 11:22am
 
The following is re  a request I made to Defra over a month ago. I did have a half hearted reply from them prior to the date on this message, but it was the usual blurb.

-----Original Message-----
From: 
Sent: 21 February 2006 14:33
To: Helpline, Library (BCMS)
Subject: Freedom Of Information, 0845 phone number

As you have declined to answer my earlier e-mail, sent at 12.03 today (see attachment), even though I know you have opened it, I now require you to answer the following, you are under a legal obligation to answer this so please acknowledge.



I wish to know the geographical number that your 08459 335577 is directed at



Please disclose (FOI Act 2000) all documents and notes on this matter.



Why do you use 0845 numbers?   
What is the equivalent geographical number? 
What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0845 numbers? 
Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your callers?
Have you considered the revised COI guidelines? 
If so, what conclusions did you come to?   
Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same? 
Do you realise that 0845 numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective of their location, only disadvantages? 
Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, when using 0845 numbers? 



Please respond A S A P

Following message just received:-

Good morning

Through consulting with some colleagues in our office's Telecoms department we have been able to compose a response to the first 4 queries you requested answers for under the Freedom of Information Act.

Defra has historically used 0845 numbers since these were, originally, accessible at local call rates. Subsequently, these numbers have been used to access Intelligent Network services from the telecommunications companies in order to provide additional messaging and routing services before delivery of the call to any number of call centres. Whilst these Intelligent Network services are only accessible, from most telecommunications companies, using non-geographic numbers (08XX , 084X, etc) this particular number is managed by Cable & Wireless, which requires the use of non-geographic numbers to access its Intelligent Network for advanced call handling.
Today there are three geographic numbers behind this non-geographic number. Defra refuses to divulge these geographic numbers, since the use of the non-geographic number is an integral part of the service provision. Additionally, the geographic numbers behind this non-geographic number change and the roles of the call centres change over time and according to circumstance.

084X numbers are not revenue sharing numbers in the same way as Premium Rate numbers. Defra receives no revenue from any 084X numbers. We are not aware of the revenue collected by any of our telecommunications providers, of which there are multiple, from our callers.

We have sent a request to Defra's Central Communications Unit for responses to the other 5 questions.  This is because the Defra Helpline is based in a Rural Payments Agency office, and as our Telecoms department are employed by the Rural Payments Agency they do not have detailed knowledge of Defra's Telecommunications policies, or the department's actions under the COI guidelines.

If you wish to contact Defra's Central Communications Unit you can email them directly at ccu.correspondence@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Regards

Defra Helpline
08459 335577

----





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mc661
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #1 - Mar 31st, 2006 at 11:35pm
 
send a response to that reminding them that under section 8 (FOI2000) they have a legal obligation to answer it, and in the way you word it.

Feel free to use this below..... 1.1. You have to explain in detail to these morons what the difference between GN and NGN numbers are.

I note they havent given a vaild exemption under the act to refuse to give the GN's, this also states that they know them so the email is contradictory. Dont tell them theyve failed to give an exemption as you can use this later to your advantage.

"....this particular number is managed by Cable & Wireless, which requires the use of non-geographic numbers to access its Intelligent Network........
Today there are three geographic numbers behind this non-geographic number. Defra refuses to divulge these geographic numbers,"

Im up for a fight with these people so I fancy sending in my standard NGN FOI.

Let me know how you get on.
-------------
Mr

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your recent email. This has NOT answered any of my questions fully. Under the act you are obliged to assist requesters (S.16 FOIA2000) and in this case you have not even clarified any of my questions. You are also required to research my request in full and it is YOUR responsiblity to answer it, not pass me onto another department, as I note you have done towards the bottom of your email.

As already stated you have a legal obligation to answer this request (S.8 FOIA2000) and you must also provide me with a full written response within 20 working days (S.10 FOIA2000).

So in order to assist you I have resent my FOI and have put my questions in bullet point format.

1 I wish to know the geographical number that your 08459 335577 is directed at. (A Geographical Number is a number which starts 01 or 02.)
2 I wish to have copies of all documents, memos, notes and tender documents relating to the use of your 0845 non geographical numbers.
3 Why do you use 0845 numbers?   
4 What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0845 numbers?
5 What services are provided at a discounted rate or free from your telephone provider? 
6 Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your callers?
7 Have you considered the revised COI guidelines? 
8 If so, what conclusions did you come to?   
9 Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same? 
10 Do you realise that 0845 non geographical numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective of their location, only disadvantages? 
11 Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, espically from mobile phones and overseas callers when using 0845 numbers?

If you are unable to answer my request in full, I suggest that you pass it onto someone who can, and in any case promptly as you have 20 working days to answer my request. (S.10 FOIA2000).

Yoursblah blah

--------------------
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mc661
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #2 - Mar 31st, 2006 at 11:55pm
 
Just found this...

From outside the UK the Helpline telephone number is +44 (0) 20 7238 6951.
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derrick
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #3 - Apr 1st, 2006 at 11:08am
 
mc661,
re your first reply, they have said :-
"We have sent a request to Defra's Central Communications Unit for responses to the other 5 questions.  This is because the Defra Helpline is based in a Rural Payments Agency office, and as our Telecoms department are employed by the Rural Payments Agency they do not have detailed knowledge of Defra's Telecommunications policies, or the department's actions under the COI guidelines. "


So whether it is worth sending another request at this moment might not help?  or do you think that i should anyway?
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derrick
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #4 - Apr 1st, 2006 at 11:13am
 
mc661 wrote on Mar 31st, 2006 at 11:55pm:
Just found this...

From outside the UK the Helpline telephone number is +44 (0) 20 7238 6951.


I do have this number and at this moment have no reason to contact them, just trying to convince these morons that these numbers do not benefit callers and their description as "local call rate" is misleading,breaks ASA?CAP guidlines and therefore breaks the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (part III) a Criminal Act.
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mc661
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #5 - Apr 1st, 2006 at 12:20pm
 
derrick wrote on Apr 1st, 2006 at 11:08am:
mc661,
re your first reply, they have said :-
"We have sent a request to Defra's Central Communications Unit for responses to the other 5 questions.  This is because the Defra Helpline is based in a Rural Payments Agency office, and as our Telecoms department are employed by the Rural Payments Agency they do not have detailed knowledge of Defra's Telecommunications policies, or the department's actions under the COI guidelines. "


So whether it is worth sending another request at this moment might not help?  or do you think that i should anyway?


Gives them work to do?
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mc661
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #6 - Apr 3rd, 2006 at 7:49pm
 
I just sent in my request.
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trevord
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #7 - Apr 3rd, 2006 at 8:45pm
 
Derrick

A few points that occur to me:

1. I note from your first message that your initial request was on 21 Feb and DEFRA replied on 31 Mar.  That's 28 working days.  They are obliged to have replied within 20 working days:
Quote:
A public authority must inform the applicant in writing whether it holds the information requested and if so, communicate that information to the applicant, promptly, but not later than 20 working days after receipt of the request. [FOI Act, s10(1)]
The Access Code 1 gives further guidance to public authorities on the 20 working day time limit. Part IV, paragraph 17 of the Code states that:
‘Public authorities are required to comply with all requests for information promptly and they should not delay responding until the end of the 20 working day period under section 10(1) if the information could reasonably have been provided earlier.’
[emphasis in original]
http://www.ico.gov.uk/documentUploads/AG%2011Time%20for%20compliance.pdf (Question 1)

So DEFRA have already failed in their legal obligations.

2. If the section of DEFRA that you sent the request to was not able to answer all the questions, then they should have forwarded to the relevant section promptly - and you should still have received an answer within the original 20 day time limit.  It is not a valid excuse that they have only just forwarded the request to another section.
Quote:
A request is ‘received’ when it is delivered to the public authority, or when it is delivered to the inbox of a member of staff. The date of receipt is not the date the request is passed to the appropriate person for processing.
...
It is in the interests of the public authority to ensure that mail is distributed, and acted upon, romptly. Public authorities will also need to give thought to their procedures for dealing with communications, where an addressee is ... absent ...
ibid, Q.3


3. It sounds as if they didn't acknowledge your original or subsequent requests:
Quote:
It would be good practice to acknowledge receipt of requests and to refer to the 20 working day time limit, so that applicants know their request is being dealt with. It would also be good practice to let applicants know when they might expect a full response.
ibid, Q.3


4. If they refuse to disclose any requested information, they must issue a Refusal Notice within the 20 day time limit.  It appears that they have not done that!
Quote:
Where the authority is relying on one or more of the exemptions and is withholding information, it must issue a Refusal Notice (under section 17 of the Act) within the same timeframe, specifying the exemption and why it applies.
ibid, Q.7


5. If they fail to respond within the time limit, they should be reported to the Information Commissioner even if the information has since been supplied, so that he can see whether there is a consistent failure to repond within the time limit and advise the authority accordingly.
Quote:
Failure to respond within the time limit would be a breach of s10 of the Act. In the event of a complaint by an applicant that he/she had received a late response to a request, the Information Commissioner would record that fact in his Decision Notice, but there would be no practical consequence, as the information had been received in the meantime.
The Information Commissioner will take into account all the circumstances of the case, when specifying in his Decision Notice, what steps the authority should take in order to comply with s10.
The Information Commissioner has a general duty under s47 of the Act to promote good practice. Should he become aware of a consistent failure to respond to requests within the time limit, he may issue an Enforcement Notice.
ibid, Q.10


In my hunble opinion, they are either in total ignorance of the law, or are totally disregarding it.  Undecided

So, personally, I would be inclined to follow up with them - the fact that they have just sent a request to another section is not a valid excuse, and you could be waiting another 28 working days or more!
I would also simultaneously to report them to the Information Commissioner for failure to respond in time, and for failure to answer ALL the questions.
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derrick
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #8 - Apr 4th, 2006 at 1:34pm
 
mc661 wrote on Apr 1st, 2006 at 12:20pm:
derrick wrote on Apr 1st, 2006 at 11:08am:
mc661,
re your first reply, they have said :-
"We have sent a request to Defra's Central Communications Unit for responses to the other 5 questions.  This is because the Defra Helpline is based in a Rural Payments Agency office, and as our Telecoms department are employed by the Rural Payments Agency they do not have detailed knowledge of Defra's Telecommunications policies, or the department's actions under the COI guidelines. "


So whether it is worth sending another request at this moment might not help?  or do you think that i should anyway?


Gives them work to do?




Have done so.

trevord,

I e-mailed them on the 21st March to remind them of their legal responibilities:-

"It is now 20 days since your reply to the e-mail as per the attachment, the legal limit under the FOI Act, and you have not supplied the relevant information, please do so or I will forward the complaint and your non compliance to the Information Commissioner."

The e-mail received on the 31st march had this in the subject line:-

FW: Freedom Of Information, 0845 phone number  ****URGENT**** (DRAFT RESPONSE)

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mc661
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #9 - Apr 4th, 2006 at 2:54pm
 
I think theyve just stabbed themselves in the foot. Cos everyone on heres gonna send in a request now.
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derrick
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #10 - Apr 21st, 2006 at 10:32am
 
Just opened my e-mails and received the following:-

FW: Freedom Of Information, 0845 phone number  ****URGENT**** (DRAFT RESPONSE)

Good afternoon

Please find below a full response to you request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

1. This has been explained in the previous response that we do not give out geographical numbers because we could no longer provide proper service provision to our customers. 

2. This enquiry is in hand and we will endeavour to respond within the next 20 days.  If the information has been archived it may be cost prohibitive to provide it.

3. This has been answered in the two previous responses.

4. Defra receives no revenue from using the 0845 number because this is not a revenue producing number.  This is not a premium rate line.

5. Defra do not now pay per minute charges for each call, (previously we did), so each call is now costing Defra zero pence per minute. The charge to the customer has not changed.  The 0845 service provides us with the ability to use the full Interactive Voice Response System offered by Cable & Wireless which is provided free as part of the 0845 package, but a fixed monthly voice port charge for concurrent callers is payable by Defra.

It is not possible to confirm what customers are charged for 0845 calls because this depends on their service provider.

7. We are aware of the COI Better Practice Guidance for Government Contact Centres and of the representations that COI have made to Ofcom regarding tariffs for 08 numbers.  We are awaiting the recommendations from Ofcom’s numbering consultation.  We are also preparing tariff advice which will accompany any publicity about the Defra helpline number.

8. As answer for 7.

9.  This was answered in the first reply.  The distinction between local and national call rates has been eroded however the cost to the customer will also depend on what service provider and which package the customer is using, as you pointed out in your second email. 

10.  As was stated in our first response costs to customers have become more complex over the past few years.  Cost advantage is now very dependant on providers and the packages they offer. 


Regards


Defra Helpline

08459 335577




The e-mail for the above response is below


Any suggestions as to a response?



-----Original Message-----
From: DGL [mailto:dgl512000@yahoo.co.uk]
Sent: 01 April 2006 13:25
To: Wagg, Elspeth (BCMS)
Subject: Re: Freedom Of Information, 0845 phone number ****URGENT**** (DRAFT RESPONSE)



Dear,  Wagg, Elspeth (BCMS)

Thank you for your recent email,(below), This has NOT answered any of my questions fully. Under the act you are obliged to assist requesters (S.16 FOIA2000) and in this case you have not even clarified any of my questions. You are also required to research my request in full and it is YOUR responsiblity to answer it, not pass me onto another department, as I note you have done towards the bottom of your email.

As already stated you have a legal obligation to answer this request (S.8 FOIA2000) and you must also provide me with a full written response within 20 working days (S.10 FOIA2000).

So in order to assist you I have resent my FOI and have put my questions in bullet point format.

1 I wish to know the geographical number that your 08459 335577 is directed at. (A Geographical Number is a number which starts 01 or 02.) and as you have admitted to having the numbers,I as a taxpayer own these numbers and rquire that you reveal them.
2 I wish to have copies of all documents, memos, notes and tender documents relating to the use of your 0845 non geographical numbers.
3 Why do you use 0845 numbers?    
4 What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0845 numbers?
5 What services are provided at a discounted rate or free from your telephone provider?   
6 Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your callers? 
7 Have you considered the revised COI guidelines?   
8 If so, what conclusions did you come to?    
9 Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same?   
10 Do you realise that 0845 non geographical numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective of their location, only disadvantages?   
11 Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, espically from mobile phones and overseas callers when using 0845 numbers?

If you are unable to answer my request in full, I suggest that you pass it onto someone who can, and in any case promptly as you have 20 working days to answer my request. (S.10 FOIA2000



Failure to respond and disclose will result in my requesting an internal review, and if still no disclosure a request to the Infirmation Commisioner.

       Yours



[/color][/color]
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Dave
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #11 - Apr 21st, 2006 at 10:52am
 
derrick wrote on Apr 21st, 2006 at 10:32am:
10.  As was stated in our first response costs to customers have become more complex over the past few years.  Cost advantage is now very dependant on providers and the packages they offer.[/color]

Has DEFRA considered the "cost advantage," or lack thereof to the calling taxpayer?
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whitehorses
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #12 - May 12th, 2006 at 10:18pm
 




As already stated you have a legal obligation to answer this request (S.8 FOIA2000) and you must also provide me with a full written response within 20 working days (S.10 FOIA2000).

Hi

The actual time they have to reply is 20 days NOT working days. I am in full agreement with what you are doing, I work in a department that does deal with FOI inquiries and it is not working days with the FOI inquires, you are not allowed either to send a covering letter but have to legally reply in full with in the 20 days.

If a bank holiday etc falls in this time it is tuff, it counts and the letter of full response has to go out i.e. you send letter on 20 december letter received on 24 december then letter of response has to go out by 13 January.

thought you might find this information of use

WH
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #13 - May 13th, 2006 at 1:50pm
 
whitehorses wrote on May 12th, 2006 at 10:18pm:
The actual time they have to reply is 20 days NOT working days.
Hi WH,  It is actually 20 working days - see here, and I quote from the IC website:-
Quote:
How long will I have to wait to get the information?
The public authority generally has 20 working days to provide the information that you have requested. See our guidance on Time for Compliance.



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« Last Edit: May 13th, 2006 at 1:52pm by bbb_uk »  
 
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mc661
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Re: DEFRA
Reply #14 - May 13th, 2006 at 2:21pm
 
Data Protection Act Requests are 30 days (includes bank hols and weekends)
FOI requests are 20 working days (excludes bank holidays and weekends)
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