In early December we reported on the status of the Jillings Report into the North Wales child abuse scandal. Today we have had a response to further questions we have asked regarding the storage and access of the report.
We placed an Freedom Of Information request at the time not only for a copy of the report, but several questions surrounding it. The report was believed to have been destroyed at one point, however has popped up the council’s archives. To investigate the circumstances surrounding the disapperance and subsequent rediscovery of the report we have tried to find out where the report was stored and who accessed it.
The publication of the report had been put back and is due, assuming no further delays, to be decided upon this month (report here).
Our question relating to accompanying material found with the report was rejected citing such a request is “exempt from disclosure under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000″. Under Section 12 a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for disclosure where the cost of complying with the request would exceed the statutory limit of £450 calculated at 18 hours at £25 per hour.
Following this we asked further questions:
- Where the copy was found (Details of room / building / address if possible).
- What security precautions were in place in the containment of the copy.
- When was the copy found (Date, and time if possible).
- Who found the copy.
- If the name of the person is not possible, what job title they hold.
- Where is the copy of the report at the time of this request.
The Council replied pointing out “The Freedom of Information Act provides a right of access only to recorded information (eg paper or electronic records) held by public authorities at the time a request is made. It does not require authorities to respond to questions raised, unless recorded information already held by the authority answers those questions.” (their emphasis)
They went on to say “I can confirm that the Council does not hold recorded information relating to your request.”
Usually for an FOI Request that is the end of the line. Pleasingly Wrexham Council went a step further offering the following comments to the questions, presumably based off unrecorded information.
Where the copy was found (Details of room / building / address if possible)?
The copy was securely filed away. As with all confidential documents appropriate security is in place to protect the information. We are not willing to disclose the building or the room, as it could compromise our future security.
What security precautions were in place in the containment of the copy?
The document was stored in a locked cabinet, in a locked room in a building protected by a monitored alarm security system.
When was the copy found (Date, and time if possible)?
The document was retrieved the moment it was requested by senior management.
Who found the copy?
A senior manager of The Council retrieved the copy.
If the name of the person is not possible, what job title they hold?
Senior Manager of the Council.
Where is the copy of the report at the time of this request?
The document was held in safe storage and has now been released to the Police as part of the investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Wrexham.com would like to thank the Council for answering the questions, rather than using the obvious loophole that was there to avoid it if they had so wished!