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Vexatious Policy

Requested on
Thu 4th April, 2013
Reference
FOI 2856
Resolution
Information provided

Question

I would greatly appreciate it if you could widen my understanding of the policies surrounding the correct way to carry out FOIA requests and to ban those or refuse those making requests which the council may not be able to or wish to answer.
I would therefore like to know:
1) If the council has a Vexation Policy (or something of a different name covering vexation) in relation to either/or Freedom Of Information Act requests and complaints since the refusal to give an answer to a question on the basis that it is a vexatious question may lead to the requester making a complaint.If there is such a thing a copy would be appreciated.
2) The internal procedures employed when a requester wishes the council to carry out a review of a decision to ban the requester by reason of vexation (may be in the above document or separately). A copy would be appreciated if this exists.
3) Is there a draft letter banning a question to ensure all residents are treated equially and the law is followed? This may be called a different name ie a banning notice. If such a draft letter exists may i have a copy please?
4) Is it the case that a requester is not banned but rather the request ie the single question due to its topic or because it has already been answered before?
5) Does sthe Council routinely communicate a ban to the requester IN EVERY INSTANCE? Whose responsibility is this? Does this ban notice inform of the steps that can be taken if the ban is considered unfair? Is this standard and covered by the policy/draft letter/procedures of any kind?
6) If a whole family is banned due to a vexatious request by a single member would the Council's policy advocate every member being informed of their ban or just the person making the request?
7) How often are staff in the Information Team retrained to ensure everyone is following the same and current guidelines in relation to how, when and why people are banned from making a FOIA request?
8) Once a member of the public is banned from making requests for information due to the reason of vexation how long does the ban stand for? Is it automatically revoked once a time of sentence has passed? How long is this duration ordinarilly?

Answer

1) If the council has a Vexation Policy (or something of a different name covering vexation) in relation to either/or Freedom Of Information Act requests and complaints since the refusal to give an answer to a question on the basis that it is a vexatious question may lead to the requester making a complaint. If there is such a thing a copy would be appreciated.
Please see below an extract from our FOIA policy:
2.7.1 Vexatious or Repeated Requests
Neither the FOIA nor EIR specifically limit the number of requests an applicant can make.
However, section 14 of the FOIA states that a public authority can reserve the right to refuse any vexatious or repeated requests. This may include repeated requests from the same person for the same information, or requests which are intended to disrupt the authority's work.
When considering refusing a request on the grounds that it is vexatious, we will refer to the Information Commissioner’s website for guidance: http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/freedom_of_information

2) The internal procedures employed when a requester wishes the council to carry out a review of a decision to ban the requester by reason of vexation (may be in the above document or separately). A copy would be appreciated if this exists.
General FOI complaints procedure included at the bottom of this email

3) Is there a draft letter banning a question to ensure all residents are treated equally and the law is followed? This may be called a different name ie a banning notice. If such a draft letter exists may i have a copy please?
N/A

4) Is it the case that a requester is not banned but rather the request ie the single question due to its topic or because it has already been answered before?
Each FOI request is considered on its own merits, regardless of who made the request

5) Does the Council routinely communicate a ban to the requester IN EVERY INSTANCE? Whose responsibility is this? Does this ban notice inform of the steps that can be taken if the ban is considered unfair? Is this standard and covered by the policy/draft letter/procedures of any kind?
No information held

6) If a whole family is banned due to a vexatious request by a single member would the Council's policy advocate every member being informed of their ban or just the person making the request?
No information held

7) How often are staff in the Information Team retrained to ensure everyone is following the same and current guidelines in relation to how, when and why people are banned from making a FOIA request?
Training is undertaken as and when required

8) Once a member of the public is banned from making requests for information due to the reason of vexation how long does the ban stand for? Is it automatically revoked once a time of sentence has passed? How long is this duration ordinarily?
No information held

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