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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Information Commissioner tells Queensland Police to get in line

The performance review report by Information Commissioner Julie Kinross on Queensland Police Service compliance with the Right to Information and Information Privacy acts is making news, particularly her recommendation that QPS better utilise a wealth of information assets for community as well as more traditional purposes.The report singles out the current dearth of published crime statistics recommending  on-line publication rather than an annual statistical review, to inform local communities and promote engagement with the police. QPS failure to attach priority to strategic information management was indicative of a general lack of appreciation of the objects of the RTI act.

The review report provides a valuable template for assessing agency performance in any jurisdiction, focussing on:
  • agency governance (leadership, governance mechanisms, information management including pro-active identification and release of information holdings, policies,procedures, delegations and roles and responsibilities of key personnel and training)
  • agency community consultation and engagement strategies (this included contact with a group of stakeholders identified by the Information Commissioner not QPS, and must have come as something of a surprise to those involved)
  • the adoption of push model strategies, for example, publication schemes, disclosure logs and administrative access schemes
  •  compliance with legislative based requirements of the RTI and IP Acts for handling access and amendment applications; and
  •  accountability and performance measurement systems.
The report notes QPS has ticked many compliance boxes such as having an information champion and an information steering committee, and has made progress on implementation in a number of respects. But the strong message is that the sleeves need to be rolled up regarding practical steps to lift the game to publish more information and improve processing of applications. The report doesn't give a rating but it's a "C" at best, noting many significant weaknesses and non-compliance in the way things are done. Some of the 28 recommendations gave QPS two weeks to get things sorted.  All recommendations are supported by QPS with those for immediate attention already actioned (Appendix 6). 

The polite but firm and steely tone is a contrast in some respects with the NSW Information Commissioner's report in July on compliance with the corresponding law by the NSW Police Force. While that report reached a similar conclusion-that the police could and should do much better- urgency was missing and police responses to some recommendations amounted to telling the Commissioner to go jump.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:49 am


    The NSW Information Commissioner needs to take a much tougher line with agencies who now have had significant time to become compliant with the GIPA Act.

    Anectdotal evidence I have seen would suggest that some agencies are engaging in a game of deliberately frustrating applicants in the hope that they give up along the way.

    Unlike its predecessor, the GIPA Act contains penalties for those who do not handle applications in accordance with the Act. It's time for these penalties to be used.