December 2007 Archives

After sending the Home Office a reminder email last Friday14th (which produced an "Email Displayed" type read receipt - N.B. we always set our email software to request such optional email receipts), pointing out that they had (yet again) failed to reply to a Freedom of Information Act request within the Statutory 20 working days. they sent a postal letter dated Monday 17th December 2007, which arrived today Friday 21st December 2007.

See the previous blog posting :- Home Office - Terrorism Act 2000 Section 44 Authorizations.

This short letter promises a full response "within the next month" i.e. perhaps 9 weeks after the original FOIA request of 14th November 2007.

This sounds moderately promising. It would be extraordinary if the Home Office refused to publish these Terrorism Act section 44 Authorisations, which are necessary to put the extensive statistics which they do publish, about the tens of thousands of fruitless stops and searches without reasonable cause for suspicion. for terrorist related itmes, into more detailed geographical and chronological context.

Given that jobsworth private security guards have been reported as falsely claiming that the area or building which they are working at is supposedly covered by such Authorisations (which only give powers of stop and search to Police Constables in Uniform), we feel that the Home Office, or local Police forces, should publish maps on their public websites, showing the boundaries of areas which are currently subjected to such Authorisations, and to the extraordinary and exceptional powers which they grant.

Home Office letter:

Writing to the Home Office seems to be a very random affair.

It should not be necessary to invoke the Freedom of Information Act for every query, but our last two attempts have had to eventually go down the FOIA route in order to get any kind of answer from them.

How can a new Counter Terrorism Bill be debated properly, when the controversial Terrorism Act 2000 Section 44 stop and search without reasonable cause powers, are applied in such a secretive manner ?

How can they be a deterrent to terrorists, if the supposedly limited areas in which these powers apply are kept secret ?

These section 44 powers apply almost certainly throughout the whole of the London M25 area, and have been applied, temporarily around political party conference venues.

Where exactly are such powers in force at the moment ?

Where are such powers being falsely claimed by jobsworth private security guards etc. ?

The legislation says that the Home Secretary must be informed about any such Section 44 Authorisations by local Police chiefs, and may amend them if necessary. Therefore the Home Office should have a list of these Authorisations readily to hand.

The deadline for compliance with our FOIA request is this Thursday 13th December 2007:

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog @spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver. - FOIA request submission and publication website from

Campaign Buttons

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Amnesty International 's campaign

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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