Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 26 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s failure to respond to a request for information. This is because the Information Commissioner’s Office is in a better position to deal with Mr X’s concerns.
- The complainant, whom, I shall call Mr X, says the Council has not responded to a request for information.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 a 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 access to 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 gave him an opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- Mr X says the Council has failed to respond to a formal request for information. He says the information is needed for a fostering application. The failure to respond has delayed his application and caused distress.
- When someone has a complaint about access to information, the Ombudsman usually expects them to bring the matter to the attention of the ICO.
- While I do have discretion to consider Mr X’s complaint, I do not think it is appropriate to do so. This is because the ICO is better placed than the Ombudsman to consider his complaint. The ICO can decide if the Council has complied with its duties as a data controller and if it has withheld information Mr X is entitled to. The ICO can issue decision notices requiring a data controller to disclose information. The Ombudsman has no such powers.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because the Information Commissioner’s Office is best placed to consider his concerns.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman