ICO to prioritise FOI complaints with a public interest, clears FOI backlog

28/03/2023 | ICO

Following a consultation into how the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) prioritises complaints relating to how public authorities handle freedom of information (FOI) requests, the ICO has confirmed it intends to take a new approach to its complaints process. The new policy means the ICO will now prioritise complaints where there is significant public interest. 

Feedback from the consultation and other stakeholder engagement activities has contributed to developing a refined set of criteria, offering clearer guidance about what constitutes significant public interest. Priority cases will be allocated within four weeks, fast-tracking 15-20% of cases. The ICO has also raised its target to close cases within six months from 80% to 90%. 

In a related post, Warren Seddon, ICO Director of Freedom of Information and Transparency, has published his latest blog providing an update on the past 12 months' activity. In April 2022, the ICO caseload stood at 2,295, significantly higher than the 1,250 cases for each of the previous three years. However, throughout the year, the ICO has worked hard to reduce its caseload to 800 live cases, the lowest its been since 2015. The ICO also confirmed it issued over 2,500 decision notices, which it claims is a significant factor in reducing its complaints backlog. To put that figure into context, Seddon said it almost doubled their previous best efforts. 

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Filing cabinet, FOI, EIR, SAR, Information access, data sharing

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