Information Commissioner Richard Thomas is to announce plans to deter vexatious requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. At a conference in London, he will say that such cases can waste public money and jeopardise the reputation of the Act. Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Today progamme, Thomas said that examples were …
Another excuse to give various establishments "wiggle room" not to provide potentially damaging or embarassing information to the public.
Might as well do away with the FOI Act completely...
If a nominal charge (£10/£50/?) were made, it would deter most vexatious requests. A similar levy (£10/£50) is already in place for personal requests under Data Protection legislation.
Oh dear ...
"There is a presumption of disclosure"
Not any more, MPs recently voted to exclude themselves completely from the FOI act. So I think that tells us exactly what the government thinks about being open with it's citizens.
Unless the request for the number of bachelors in the police force came from a serious academic study (e.g. relating to recruitment) then it sounds to me like a completely frivolous request. Given that it's our (tax payers) money that's being spent answering such requests at present, I wholeheartedly agree that provision does need to be made with the FoI Act to allow such requests to be turned down.
As far as I understand it, that's all that's being proposed - the detail as to what the basis is for determining what is frivolous and what isn't remains to be defined. Let's reserve judgement on whether this makes the Act useless until the detail is worked out.
And I disagree that a £10/£50 charge would deter many. If you're sad enough to want to know how many bachelors are in the police force, then you might well be willing to pay that sort of charge. Furthermore, the press will consider that small charge to fill up their rags with supposedly humorous articles about where in the country you should live if you want to marry someone in uniform!