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Information Complaints Policy

If you have a complaint about a service delivered by Achieving for Children, please go to our Concerns and complaints page. This policy does not cover complaints about services.

Introduction

This policy covers complaints about how Achieving for Children:

  • handles requests for information under the Freedom of Information regulations (FOI) or Environmental Regulations (EIR);
  • handles requests for personal information under the UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR) - also known as subject access requests;
  • handles personal information under the UK GDPR.

1. Scope

1.1 The policy applies to any client or service user of Achieving for Children, or a person or agent acting on behalf of the customer who has a complaint about information related matter. 
 
1.2 In this instance, a customer of Achieving for Children is anyone who:
  • contacts Achieving for Children to seek information using the Freedom of Information Act A (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) or Data Protection (DP) processes;
  • contacts Achieving for Children to report concern about how personal information is being handled.
1.3 This policy is part of the suite of information governance policies.

2. Purpose

2.1 This policy sets out how customers can make a complaint about:
  • request for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) or Environmental Regulations (EIR);
  • requests for personal information under the UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR);
  • the way in which personal information has been handled in relation to the UK GDPR.
2.2 Provides a clear framework of how Achieving for Children will respond and learn from the complaints received.

3. What can be complained about

3.1 Definition of information complaint

An information complaint refers to an expression of dissatisfaction with Achieving for Children’s  handling of a request for information or the standard and quality of service in relation to FOI, EIR, DP in response to a request to access recorded information held by Achieving for Children.

3.2 An information complaint could include any of the following concerns: 

  • we delay or fail to respond to a request for information; 
  • we fail to meet our statutory responsibilities in relation to FOI, EIR or DP;
  • we apply an exemption (withhold information) that a requester is not happy about; and 
  • we fail to resolve a request to handle personal information as we should.

3.3  An information complaint is not:

  • an initial request to access information held by Achieving for Children; 
  • an enquiry about the process for dealing with a specific issue;
  • a complaint about a service or the behaviour of staff, such complaints will be managed under the Corporate Complaints Procedure. Refer to section 8 for further details.

4. Information complaints procedure

4.1 How can a complaint be made

4.1.1  If customers wish to make a formal complaint about how Achieving for Children has managed, shared or handled their information, they can write to the Data Protection Officer by either email or post to: 
 
 
Achieving for Children
42 York Street
Twickenham 
TW1 3BW
 
4.1.2 Customers may provide supporting evidence along with their complaint to help in assessing the complaint. 
 
4.1.3 Complaints should be made no later than 40 working days after receipt of our response or becoming aware of the breach. 
 
4.1.4 Unless there are extenuating circumstances, complaints made more than 40 days after the response will not be considered.
 
4.1.5 Complaints made outside this timescale, will be reviewed by the Data Protection Officer for a decision on whether or not the complaint will be investigated.

4.2. Stage 1 complaints

4.2.1 The complaint will be logged and acknowledged promptly and within two working days of receipt of the complaint and the customer informed of the deadline for responding to the complaint.
 
4.2.2 The timescale for responding to information complaints is 20 working days. The deadline may be extended to within 40 working days for particularly complex cases. Where it is determined that the deadline will be extended, the Data Protection Officer will inform the customer without undue delay and providing an explanation of the reason for the extension. 
 
4.2.3 Where the information complaint is of a general nature, the issue will be resolved informally. Customers are encouraged to contact the Information Governance Support Officer in the first instance who will do all they can to put things right.
 
4.2.4 Where the information complaint is related to a perceived breach of information legislation, the complaint will be investigated by the Data Protection Officer. This will be carried out at stage 1 of the information complaints and internal reviews procedure.
 
4.2.5 All information complaints will be dealt with courteously, openly and fairly.

4.3  Information complaints - upheld or partially upheld

4.3.1 Where we have made a mistake or failed to provide the expected standard or quality of service, we will acknowledge and apologise for this. We will also set out the actions we will take to put things right and improve our services. This could include:
  • providing previously withheld information;
  • reviewing our information governance policies and procedures;
  • reviewing how we handle personal data; and
  • providing appropriate staff training and guidance

4.4 Information complaints - not upheld

4.4.1 Where we have investigated and we still uphold the original decision, we will:
  • explain the reasons for our decision clearly;
  • provide any relevant evidence to support the decision; and
  • advise customers of their right of appeal if they remain dissatisfied. 

4.5 Stage 2 complaints

4.5.1 If the customer is not satisfied with the stage 1 complaint response, the customer can ask for their complaint and response to be reviewed at stage 2 of the information complaints and internal review procedure. 
 
4.5.2 The stage 2 complaint will be acknowledged within two working days.
 
4.5.3 The timescale for responding to the stage 2 complaint is 15 working days.
 
4.5.4 The Associate Director for Strategy and Transformation who is also the designated Senior Information Risk Officer (SIRO) will conduct a review of the investigation at stage 1 to determine whether the decision was fair and the complaint responded in full. 

4.6 Final stage - complaints

If the customer is still not satisfied, they may appeal to the Information Commissioner by writing to them at:  

Information Commissioner’s Office 
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Email: casework@ico.org.uk

Website: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/

4.5.2 FOI and EIR complaints the appeal must be made to the Information Commissioner within six months of the outcome of the internal review.

5. Persistent and vexatious information complaints

5.1 We aim to respond to all information complaints professionally and in a courteous and timely manner, ensuring that customers are satisfied  with the way their complaint has been handled. 
 
5.2 Achieving for Children’s employee guidance for managing unacceptable customer behaviour provides a clear framework about expected behaviours and standards.  
 
5.3 In a small number of cases, customers may pursue a complaint in an unreasonable way, which impacts on Achieving for Children resources and capacity to respond to the complaint effectively. A customer may be considered to be unreasonably persistent or vexatious in pursuing their information complaint if they:
  • change the basis of a complaint during the investigation process;
  • refuse to cooperate with the complaints investigation process;
  • refuse to accept investigation conclusions and decisions; and
  • repeatedly make the same or similar complaint.
5.4 Continuing to respond to these complaints can take up a lot of time and reduce capacity to deal with other complaints effectively.
 
5.5 Where it is considered than an information complaint has become vexatious, the Data Protection Officer, with legal advice if necessary, will inform the customer of any decision to close a complaint and not enter into any further correspondence on the matter.  

6. Learning from information complaints

Information complaints will be regularly reviewed to identify how Achieving for Children can improve our information related processes. This includes:

  • making operational improvements in response to specific complaints;
  • regular review of upheld complaints to identify issues that need addressing; and
  • identify areas where more training is required. 

7. Confidentiality

Any personal information provided to Achieving for children will be managed in line with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations.

8. Useful contacts

Data Protection Officer: dpo@achievingforchildren.org.uk

Information Governance Team: foi.sar@achievingforchildren.org.uk

Information Commissioner’s Office: www.ico.org.uk

Kingston Council Corporate complaints: crm.complaints@kingston.gov.uk

Richmond Council Corporate complaints: customer.services@richmond.gov.uk

Windsor and Maidenhead Council Corporate complaints: complaintsandcompliments@rbwm.gov.uk

Policy details

Date created: November 2020

Version: IG/IRC/11/2020/V.1

Signed off by: Achieving for Children Information Governance Board

Issue date: December 2020

Review Date: The policy will be reviewed every two years to judge its effectiveness or updated sooner in accordance with changes in legislation.