Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 20 May 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s response to his request for information. This is because the Information Commissioner’s Office is the appropriate body to consider his concerns.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s response to his request for information about his children.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe there is another body better placed to consider the complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if they have a complaint about data protection – this includes a failure to disclose information. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered Mr X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information he provided. I also gave Mr X the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before reaching a final decision on his complaint.
What I found
- The ICO is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights. It deals with complaints about public authorities’ failures to comply with data protection legislation. This includes a failure to disclose information somebody is entitled to.
- There is no charge for making a complaint to the ICO, and its complaints procedure is relatively easy to use. Where someone has a complaint about data protection, the Ombudsman usually expects them to bring the matter to the attention of the ICO. This is because the ICO is in a better position than the Ombudsman to consider such complaints. It can decide what information the Council should disclose. It has much wider powers than the Ombudsman to take action against the Council if it finds it has failed to correctly deal with Mr X’s request for information. Mr X should therefore approach the ICO about his concerns.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because the Information Commissioner’s Office is the appropriate body to consider his concerns.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman