Here's the latest blog from the Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence, abridged by leaving out all the tedious bits:-
TR- The MoJ claim its really not in the public interest
Lots to catch up on today back at base, following another 'full on' week, including a positive NEC so more on that (and more besides) next week. Meanwhile, a quick blog posting to alert you to yet another extraordinary response to one of our Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, this time seeking information about the outcomes from the 'Testgate' process 1,2 and 3.
Essentially, we wanted to know how the Minister could justify authorising the shambles he has created, and what exactly was the evidence that made him and his officials believe that it was safe (and in the public interest) to have gotten us to this sorry state of affairs.
Anyway, as you will see from the section of a reply which covers other issues still in scope, the long and short of it in respect of the Testgates, is that the MoJ do hold some of the information that we are seeking (not exactly a revelation in itself, which is why we asked in the first place oddly enough) but the Mandarins don't believe that it serves the public interest to give it to us!
So there you have it; well actually no you don't, and no, you jolly well won't!
We await further advice from our own learned friends, but it does seem to prove the notion that the so-called testing process is written by those who think that only they need to know the answers. It's not fair to blame Grayling (on this ocassion only) for what the FOI Act says, as it was designed to allow the Establishment of the day to hide behind the same old excuses. But as we all know only too well by now, the first casualty in war and politics is always the truth. Nevertheless, it won't stop us seeking it.
Freedom of Information Request
Dear Mr Lawrence,
Thank you for your letter of 16 May to Amy Rees, Deputy Director, Transforming Rehabilitation Programme, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):
Napo would like to request full details of the results of Test Gates 1-3 insofar as they provide:-
- an assessment of the Trusts' implementation of the new operational processes;
- identification of any areas where action or contingency plans are needed;
- an in-depth understanding of the risk profile for the Department; and
- an assessment of business readiness for 1 June 2014
We are particularly interested in the level of preparedness of multi-trust areas, ICT issues and pay, allowances and other HR data for those transferring to the NPS. Finally we are interested in information relating to staff allocation against predicted caseloads/workloads.
Additionally, we request a copy of the terms of contracts upon which expressions of interest have been requested of bidders for each of the CRCs.
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). I can confirm that the department holds some of the information that you have asked for, but in this case we will not be providing some of the information that we hold to you as it is exempt from disclosure.
Concerning your request for full details of the results of Test Gates 1 to 3, we are not obliged to provide information if its release would affect the delivery of effective central government and other public services. In this case, we believe that releasing documentation relating to the outcomes of the Transforming Rehabilitation Test Gates would be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice (section 36(2)(b)(i)); inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation (section 36(2)(b)(ii)); and otherwise prejudice, or would be likely to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs (section 36(2)(c)).
In line with the terms of this exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, we have also considered whether it would be in the public interest for us to provide you with the information, despite the exemption being applicable. In this case, we have concluded that the public interest favours withholding the information. When assessing whether or not it was in the public interest to disclose the information to you, we took into account the following factors:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
There is a public interest in disclosing information which helps further the public’s understanding of the way in which Government operates and contributes to the accountability of Ministers and public officials so as to increase public trust in the governmental processes. This can particularly be the case when information relates to the successful delivery of a relatively high profile programme, such as the Rehabilitation Programme.
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information
Against disclosure is the public interest in preserving the willingness of senior managers to seek frank and open independent advice about programme delivery without the risk of premature disclosure. Disclosure would be detrimental to the integrity and effectiveness of the Department’s testing process. This may also impact on timely delivery of test reports as more iterations and clearances are required. It is in the public interest that officials have discussions about the threats to delivery of the programme and the opportunities offered by it in a protected environment that allows such matters to be evaluated frankly and in a way that helps to address them. This ensures that the Programme takes the actions required to maximise the chances of successful delivery and focuses its resources to that end.
We reached the view that, on balance, the public interest is better served by withholding this information under Sections 36(2)(b)(i), 36(2)(b)(ii) and 36(2)(c) of the Act at this time.
Outside the scope of the Act, and on a discretionary basis, you may find it helpful to know that, from the outset the Department’s intention has always been that these reforms will be rolled out in a controlled way that makes sure public safety is maintained, and this continues to be the case.