An organisation legally has 40 days in which to fulfil a Subject Access Request (SAR).
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) have a range of measures which they can use on organisations who flout this. These include doing nothing, enforce education programmes, use the legislation to prosecute, etc.
I made a SAR request to the DWP in early November 2012.
After the 40 day limit, I tried on 6 occasions to get the SAR fulfilled without escalating this to a formal complaint.
The ICO had to write to the DWP twice to get it fulfilled.
The SAR took 6 ½ months!
The ICO state that they are not going to take action against the DWP but hold my details on file in case of any further complaints. They state there is no “strong indication that the DWP has a systematic data protection problem”.
Bearing in mind that not everyone who has a problem complains or knows to complain to the ICO, in the year that I requested my SAR, there had been a staggering ** 1,750% ** increase in complaints about SARs (2012/13) and this figure is continuing this year (2013/14).
Is the reason for the ICO not taking action because they are a fellow government organisation ?
In responses to complaints, the DWP, as is their won’t, have given partial reasons for the delay on several occasions and also have contradicted themselves, they also gave silly answers by phone, such as:-
The DWP in Belfast did not have a data protection officer in place for several months (it is quite obvious why they didn’t want to put this in writing!).
Emails (internally and externally) regarding SAR requests were going into an unmanned mailbox for several months (ditto).
They had ‘printer problems’ for 2 months (miraculously resolved as soon as the ICO contacted them a second time).
Quite insultingly, despite me having received responses from the main SAR contact for the DWP telling me that they made further requests for DWP Belfast to supply this information, DWP Belfast say there is no indication that I contacted them before making formal complaints to them and the ICO.
The matter is now with the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman but sadly nothing will happen as yet again the DWP have shown that they are totally and utterly unaccountable for their incompetence and their negligent actions.
Next: ICE delays one year on