Northants Police’s failure to meet transparency targets due to ‘unprecedented demand’

Northants Police Kettering Northern Accomodation hub NNL-180629-162452005
Northants Police Kettering Northern Accomodation hub NNL-180629-162452005

Northamptonshire Police are enacting a recovery plan to help them deal with a backlog of Freedom of Information requests.

The force is currently not meeting maximum 20-day limits to respond to requests for information.

They say their backlog of requests has been caused partly by staff having to meet tough GDPR demands and because of ‘unprecedented demand.’

The Freedom of Information Act allows members of the public and other bodies to request information from public organisations to allow them to scrutinise how money is spent and how the organisation is performing.

It aims to increase transparency and public accountability.

FOI officers have 20 working days to respond to requests for information, a guideline set down by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Northamptonshire Police have usually met this target in the past and have been one of the county’s more efficient FOI responders.

A force spokesman said: “Northamptonshire Police’s Information Team receives approximately 1,000 Freedom of Information requests per year with over 500 in the past six months alone.

“The GDPR framework has also been launched recently, creating a higher volume of work for the team.

“Responding to an FOI request often involves the collection of complex information from departments across the force. At a time of unprecedented demand, not only on the information team, but also on other departments across the force, responses to FOI requests are taking longer than usual and we appreciate the public’s patience during this busy time.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office has been made aware of our current position and the high level of demand we are currently experiencing.”

An ICO spokesperson said: “We are aware that Northamptonshire Police has been experiencing delays in processing freedom of information request responses.

“We have been told that this was due to staffing issues but that the force hopes to have the backlog of requests under control shortly. We are keeping the existing situation under review.”