In September, the Times reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office had a backlog of more than 1,200 unresolved appeals to refused Freedom of Information Act requests.
The ICO’s caseload is increasing by five appeals per day, the Times reported, and just 50 cases had been resolved in the first nine months of 2005.
In October, the Press Gazette quoted the ICO offical in charge of FOIA appeals saying that “complaints were 25 per cent higher than had been anticipated” and that the caseload was growing by 50 appeals per week.
Now in December, the Constitutional Affairs minister, Harriet Harman, told an MP:
The Secretary of State is in regular dialogue with the Information Commissioner about his responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner has analysed his current workload and concluded that the high volume of appeals that he is processing at present are a result of the initial influx of requests that public authorities experienced in the first few months of FOI implementation.
No problem of a swamped and under-resourced watchdog here, clearly. Let’s also ignore the fact that north of the border, the (so-far more effective) Scottish Information Commissioner is asking for a 19 percent budget increase from the Scottish Executive because his office is also swamped.
Clearly just teething difficulties. Go back to sleep.
Update: The BBC has the story now too.