Northamptonshire police still has large Freedom of Information request backlog

Northamptonshire’s police force still has a Freedom of Information backlog of more than 200 requests – but the number is down from an April high of 656.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 7:00 am
More than 200 FOI enquiries sent to Northamptonshire police are overdue.
More than 200 FOI enquiries sent to Northamptonshire police are overdue.

The police force is not routinely responding to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act in the maximum of 20 days and says that of the 292 requests it is dealing with 217 are overdue.

A spokesman said that roughly a third of the requests were from journalists.

They said: “We take information assurance extremely seriously and are fully committed to meeting the regulatory requirements of FOI. It remains a key indicator of our legitimacy remit, our requirement to be open and transparent around the information we hold.

“Earlier this year, Northamptonshire Police asked the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for support in conducting a peer review. This was undertaken this year, which led to a number of positive changes being implemented, including triaging requests as they are received to clarify the request and checking back with requestors as to whether or not overdue requests were still required.

“Northamptonshire Police is not alone here, all forces are facing increasing demand in this area which we have a duty to fulfil, balanced against the wider operational demands placed upon the organisation.”

The police force says it has taken recruited an additional full-time officer to deal with requests as well as having assistance from five other staff to help with the FOI unit.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has authority to deal with organisations that break the FOI rules. Northamptonshire Police says it has been issued with an enforcement letter by the ICO and is in regular contact with the organisation, submitting statistics on a monthly basis.

The media routinely use the act to access information from public bodies to hold them to account.