Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan tells councillors “90 working days” are lost each year in responding to FOI requests

Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer) speaks about freedom of information requests to a meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority's Performance and Scrutiny Committee (12th January 2015)

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan tells councillors “90 working days” are lost each year in responding to FOI requests

                                                           

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Councillors on the Performance and Scrutiny Committee (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) discuss Freedom of Information requests (starts at 15m 35s) (12th January 2016)

Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer) speaks about freedom of information requests to a meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority's Performance and Scrutiny Committee (12th January 2015)
Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer) speaks about freedom of information requests to a meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s Performance and Scrutiny Committee (12th January 2015)

Although I am not referred to by name (but my profession is in the report), I have made Freedom of Information requests to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service/Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority during the period covered by that report. An appeal of a refusal of one of those Freedom of Information requests to the Information Commissioner’s Office is referred to in the report in section 16. I am therefore declaring this as an interest at the start of this piece.

I have previously written about Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s response to the consultation on changes to Freedom of Information legislation.

Yesterday councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s Performance and Scrutiny Committee discussed a report on Freedom of Information requests.

The report was introduced by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan, who said “Thanks Chair, again this report relates to our response to a request from Members to better understand the implications of the Freedom of Information requests on the Authority and the report proposes to, it requests that Members review the information in relation to Freedom of Information requests and particularly the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

What I would say from the outset is that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority adheres to and is supportive of the Freedom of Information Act and values its role in allowing people to access information, giving them the right to find out about matters and decisions that affect them. I’d like to be absolutely crystal clear around that.

However, use of the Act is becoming increasingly popular and the volumes of freedom of information requests have increased over the recent years. The table on page 58 exemplifies that. We received, we saw freedom of information requests in 2011 at 72, 2014 at 138 and up until November 9th 2015 at 131.

So it’s clear evidence that the freedom of information requests coming through to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has increased significantly over that period and you know Members will also be aware that we’ve been receiving those freedom of information requests it’s a requirement on us to turn around that information within twenty days unless we are able to provide you know a legitimate reason as to why we would