Freedom of Information Complaints and Review Procedure

1. Introduction

The University of York aims to comply fully with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and to provide an efficient, helpful service to those applying for information held by the University. If you should feel that this service has not met these aims or your expectations, the University has in place the following procedures for handling complaints.

2. Process for complainant

I. In the first instance, if an issue cannot be resolved informally in discussion with the staff handling your enquiry, please contact the University Records Manager.

University Records Manager
Borthwick Institute for Archives
University of York
YO10 5DD

Wherever possible complaints will be dealt with by a senior officer not involved in the case or party to any original decision. This will usually be the University Registrar and Secretary or a nominee.

II. If, having received the University's response, you remain dissatisfied, your complaint may then be addressed to the Information Commissioner, whose office is the independent body that oversees the implementation of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

III. In the event of being dissatisfied with the response or judgement you receive from the Information Commissioner, you also have the right to appeal against his decision to the Information Tribunal.

3. Principles

Your right to complain is recognised at all times and the University of York undertakes to respect the following principles that govern its Freedom of Information complaints procedure. These principles accord with those approved by the University Senate for the University's appeals and complaints procedures generally.

  1. Complaints should be dealt with as close to their source, and as informally, as possible;
  2. information on procedures, and on sources of advice, should be readily accessible;
  3. appeals and complaints should be dealt with in accordance with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy, and procedures should have regard to that Policy;
  4. complaints should be dealt with within a reasonable time;
  5. an individual's privacy and confidentiality will be respected, subject to the need for a fair and open investigation and for the outcome of the investigation to be reported appropriately;
  6. any complainant who has suffered a wrong has a right to have that wrong redressed, though vexatious complaints should not be allowed to abuse the process;
  7. procedures should ensure that, where a complaint is upheld, appropriate remedial action is taken;
  8. the Registrar has discretion to appoint an investigative panel if s/he judges that the nature of the complaint warrants it; members of an investigative panel should not be judges in their own case, or act in any case in which conflict of interest may arise;
  9. the available documentation should indicate which further procedures, if any, are open to a complainant who remains aggrieved following the outcome of a complaint;
  10. a formal complaints procedure is available where a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of an informal complaint.

4. Procedural notes on the University's handling of complaints

  • Any written reply from an applicant expressing dissatisfaction with the University's response to a valid request for information should be treated as a complaint, as should any correspondence which signifies that the University is not complying with its Publication Scheme.
  • All complaints should be forwarded to the Records Manager in accordance with the complaints process outlined above.
  • The complaints procedure provides a fair and impartial means of dealing with enquiry handling problems and of reviewing decisions that have been taken. The Records Manager or any appointed review panel may reverse or otherwise amend any decisions previously taken.
  • All complaints shall be acknowledged by the University. Any review will strive to produce a prompt determination of the complaint and, in its acknowledgement, the University will supply a target date for the determination. Target times should be reasonable and defensible. In the event of any review taking longer than the target time, the University will keep the complainant informed and give the reasons for the delay.
  • The University will always inform a complainant of the outcome of their complaint.
  • Records of complaints and their outcome will be kept and monitored by the Records Manager. The University's procedures for dealing with requests will be subject to regular review on an annual basis and this review will be informed by issues and trends raised in the analysis of complaints.
  • Where a complaint's outcome is that previously withheld material should be disclosed, disclosure will be made as soon as possible.
  • Where the outcome is that the University's procedures have not been followed properly by staff, the University will apologise and take appropriate steps to avoid a similar recurrence.
  • Where the outcome is to uphold the original decision, or is otherwise in the University's favour, the applicant will be informed of their right to apply to the Information Commissioner under stage II of the process for complainants.