Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No wonder

As I noted last week, I've had a lot of bad OIA experiences with the police. It's not just the quality of the answers, which betray a pathological desire for secrecy and a "you have no right to know" attitude (sorry guys, the law begs to differ) - its the fact that every time I OIA Police National Headquarters, they seem to "lose" my request, meaning a late answer or one only received after hassling them.

Now I know why. According to an OIA I received this morning (which was, for once, not late),

Workgroups at PNHQ do not currently use an OIA tracking system.
Yes, that's right - nothing. Not even an Excel spreadsheet (which is the preferred solution for ad-hoc tracking, and not exactly difficult to set up). This is pure administrative incompetence - and its almost certainly reflected in their performance. Unfortunately, proving that would require them to dig through paper records (assuming they keep any), which they could claim constitutes "substantial collation and research" - so that incompetence becomes its own cover.

The good news is that they are working on a special-purpose tracking system, which will apparently be in place later this year and cover all police districts (assuming it doesn't go the way of INCIS), so we'll be able to get hard data on their performance next year. But the fact that they've waited so long to do this, and have had nothing in the meantime speaks volumes about their attitude to the law.