Officials in the Data Access and Compliance Unit have met officials from the Information Commissioner's Office on three occasions since the Unit was created in October 2008.
Officials in the Ministry continue to have regular contact with the Information Commissioner's Office, both to discuss its overall performance in relation to its data protection and freedom of information obligations, and in the course of the Commissioner's investigations in individual cases.
The creation of the Data Access and Compliance Unit in October 2008 has allowed the Ministry to make significant improvements to its Freedom of Information and Data Protection performance. The Unit has taken forward a programme of wide-ranging work since its inception, including improving staff awareness of the Ministry's obligations under both pieces of legislation, and the extension of the network of staff responsible for handling requests within business areas.
Where appropriate Ministers receive advice in relation to individual cases from officials in the Ministry's Information and Legal Directorates.
Ministers and senior officials at the Ministry are fully aware of its obligations under Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation, and expect it to achieve the highest possible standards of compliance.
No bespoke Freedom of Information training has been provided to either Ministers or senior officials. However, all members of the Ministry’s staff—including the permanent secretary and the director general, democracy, constitution and law—are required to complete mandatory online training on the correct handling of information and ensuring data is appropriately protected in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Act. The training package exists in electronic form on a password protected website accessible only to the Ministry’s staff, and to transfer it into a form appropriate for publication would incur disproportionate cost.
Ministers and senior officials are advised on a regular basis of the Ministry’s performance in these areas, as well as receiving policy and legal advice in relation to individual cases where appropriate.