Outcomes of internal reviews of rejected requests for the opening of closed historical files held by The National Archives and the subsequent ICO decisions regarding internal review rejections appealed to the ICO

FOI request reference: F0054353
Publication date: November 2018

Request
I am interested in the outcomes of TNA internal reviews of rejected requests for the opening of closed historical files held by TNA and the subsequent ICO decisions regarding TNA internal review rejections which were appealed to the ICO.

Please could you send me data showing the number of TNA internal review requests for the opening of closed documents held by TNA, during the year from 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018, together with the number of internal review appeals that were accepted, and the number which were rejected. Please could you also send me the number of Information Commissioners Office appeals following TNA internal request rejections (for the same period) that resulted in a document being made available to public access and (if you have this information) the number of internal review decisions which were upheld by the ICO.

Outcome

Successful

Response

Thank you for your enquiry of 11th October 2018, in which you asked for information about the outcomes of internal reviews of rejected requests for the opening of closed historical files held by The National Archives and the subsequent ICO decisions regarding internal review rejections which were appealed to the ICO.

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000. The FOI Act gives you the right to know whether we hold the information you want and to have it communicated to you, subject to any exemptions that may apply.

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request. We are pleased to be able to provide this information to you.

Internal Reviews for FOI requests to The National Archives and ICO appeals following TNA internal review rejections between April 2017 & March 2018:

TNA internal review appeals – decision upheld 41
TNA internal review appeals – decision overturned 3
TNA internal review appeals – decision overturned in part 9
Total 53
ICO appeals following TNA internal review rejections – decision overturned 0
ICO appeals following TNA internal review rejections – decision upheld 6

Please note the following information to clarify the collation of these figures:
Internal review appeals
• The cases which fall within the timescale you have requested are based on the dates the requests were received by TNA
• Figures provided are for original decisions upheld, overturned and additionally, for context, overturned in part
• Your request asked for number of appeals; some appeals cover a review of multiple historical files, as these were initially handled together (i.e. are for the same requester on same subject matter)
• Because your request focussed on opening closed historical records:
o figures exclude complaints solely relating to the handling of original requests (as opposed to the engagement of exemptions)
o figures exclude complaints solely relating to requests for TNA’s corporate information
Complaints to ICO
• The cases which fall within the timescale you have requested are based on the dates the complaint was submitted to ICO
• Figures provided are for cases which resulted in ICO upholding TNA’s decision regarding the application of exemptions; as above figures exclude any decisions around the handling of the requests
• As above some complaints cover multiple internal review appeals (i.e. are for the same requester on same subject matter)
• Figures exclude cases which were resolved informally or withdrawn by the complainant
Further Advice and assistance
There is further information on the Information Commissioner’s website relating to outcomes of complaints and Decision Notices issued, which can be filtered in a number of ways, including by sector/authority, date range and outcome:
https://icosearch.ico.org.uk/s/search.html?collection=ico-meta&profile=decisions&query&query=&
You may also be interested to look at the annual figures published by Cabinet Office for information relating to FOI internal reviews across Government. Tables 13, 14 and 15 include information relating to National Archives.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/702103/foi-statistics-q4-2017-and-annual-statistical-tables.pdf
There is further statistical information relating to Freedom of Information requests across government on the Institute for Government website, which includes details of internal reviews and appeals between 2010-2017:
https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/freedom-of-information