Police Vetting Communications

Joshua Grainger made this Official Information request to Privacy Commissioner

The request was successful.

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Privacy Commissioner,

I have previously filed an OIA request with the Police for all communications with the Privacy Commissioner regarding their Police Vetting system. I filed this request because I was concerned that a response for a Police Vetting request can include information that identifies a person as a victim of a crime (including domestic violence complaints), as well as what convictions a person has, and this would seem to have some privacy implications.

In their response the Police indicated that they had consulted with the Privacy Commissioner, but they could not locate any correspondence. Under the hope that the OPC has slightly better records than the Police, I would like to request under the OIA all information that the Privacy Commissioner holds about the Police Vetting system, including any correspondence with the Police.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any clarification. I have previously had an issue where a request I have filed via the FYI website has not been received by the Privacy Commissioner, so I would appreciate an acknowledgement of my request.

Yours faithfully,

Joshua Grainger

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From: Enquiries
Privacy Commissioner


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Your enquiry has been forwarded to one of our team.

 

We'll try to get back to you within the next 24 hours.

 

 

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From: Katrine Evans
Privacy Commissioner


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Hi Joshua

 

Thanks for your request, which we’ve received safely this time.

 

We’ll be back in touch soon.

 

Kind regards

Katrine

 

 

 

Katrine Evans [5]Final PC20 logo2

Assistant Commissioner (Legal and Policy)

 

PO Box 10-094, Wellington 6143

[1]www.privacy.org.nz

Privacy is about protecting personal information,
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From: Katrine Evans
Privacy Commissioner


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Hi Joshua,

 

Thanks for your OIA request regarding police vetting. I just wanted to
clarify your request if possible, so we make sure we’re searching for the
right information. 

 

Am I right in thinking that you are asking for information about
consultations we may have had with Police about the Police vetting system?
(ie the information that the Police could not retrieve when you asked them
for it?) Or are you more specifically interested in whether we have
consulted with the Police about the effect of the vetting system on third
parties eg victims of crime?

 

Also, do you have a particular time frame in mind – for instance, only
consultations that may have occurred in the last few years? I suspect it
would take substantial time and resources to check whether we have records
of consultations with the Police that pre-date our current electronic
records system (which started in 2007/8).

 

Please feel free to call if it is easier to talk me through what
information you need.

 

Kind regards

Katrine

 

Katrine Evans [5]Final PC20 logo2

Assistant Commissioner (Legal and Policy)

 

PO Box 10-094, Wellington 6143

[1]www.privacy.org.nz

Privacy is about protecting personal information,
yours and others'. To find out how, and to stay
informed, [2]subscribe to our quarterly privacy
newsletter.  You can also follow us on [3]Facebook
and [4]Twitter.

 

 

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Luke left an annotation ()

This is a very good example of an agency proactively clarifying the request before making a decision on it. All too often, agencies will not bother to clarify the request further, often resulting in either the wrong information being provided, or information being unduly withheld.

In this instance the OPC have sought to clarify the scope, and suggest placing a restriction on the date coverage of the information by asking how far back they need to search. The remark about extra effort involved in searching records that are outside of their EDRMS is a helpful clue to the requester that they could be charged to refused the information for time spent looking through the pre-EDRMS records.

These two suggestions are good for the requester and the agency. For the requester, they progress the request in way that is more likely to result in the requester getting the information they actually want. For the agency, they help the agency by not having to spend valuable time searching for information that is out of scope, and helps to progress the request towards concluding it.

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Joshua Grainger left an annotation ()

Rang Katrine.

I clarified that: I was interested in all communications on the Police Vetting system in general, but I would be particularly interested in any information about the impact on victims. I also said that I would be interested in information from any time period, but I wasn't expecting miracles regarding old information.

She clarified that it would be difficult to find information pre 2007, and given the age of the Police Vetting system this may limit the information available. However, she said she would try.

Katrine also highlighted this case on the Police Vetting system, regarding red stamping of files: http://privacy.org.nz/case-note-225627-2...

This just reinforces my opinion that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner are awesome at dealing with OIA requests.

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From: Katrine Evans
Privacy Commissioner


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Hi Joshua

 

We have managed to locate some elderly information in our archives that we
think may be relevant to your request. However, we’re going to need a
little more time to reacquaint ourselves with the information, and also to
consult with Police.  An additional two weeks should do it – so I
anticipate being able to get a response to you by 1 April.

 

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Kind regards

Katrine

 

Katrine Evans [5]Final PC20 logo2

Assistant Commissioner (Legal and Policy)

 

PO Box 10-094, Wellington 6143

[1]www.privacy.org.nz

Privacy is about protecting personal information,
yours and others'. To find out how, and to stay
informed, [2]subscribe to our quarterly privacy
newsletter.  You can also follow us on [3]Facebook
and [4]Twitter.

 

 

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From: Katrine Evans
Privacy Commissioner


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Attachment J Grainger response 28 3 13.pdf
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Attachment Grainger OIA Bundle A final.pdf
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Attachment Grainger OIA Bundle B final.pdf
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Dear Joshua

 

Please find attached:

·         Our response to your OIA request about police vetting;

·         Two bundles of documents as described in the response

 

We hope this information is of assistance to you.

 

Kind regards

Katrine

 

Katrine Evans [5]Final PC20 logo2

Assistant Commissioner (Legal and Policy)

 

PO Box 10-094, Wellington 6143

[1]www.privacy.org.nz

Privacy is about protecting personal information,
yours and others'. To find out how, and to stay
informed, [2]subscribe to our quarterly privacy
newsletter.  You can also follow us on [3]Facebook
and [4]Twitter.

 

 

References

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From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Katrine Evans,

Thank you very much for your response - the fact that information from 1999 was recovered was rather impressive. It certainly shows that the Office maintains better records than the Police, given that they did not find anything.

I did just have a couple of questions though.

First: the fax from 24 March 2000 in bundle A mentions that the document 'Necessary and Desirable: Privacy Act 1993 Review' created by the Commissioner has some information regarding Police vetting, yet this document doesn't appear to be attached. Would it be possible to get this, by any chance?

Second: regarding the deletions of officials' names on privacy grounds. I usually wouldn't push this, but thought that I might given you are the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and thus the ones most likely to be in the know. Are you aware of that the Ombudsman has previously ruled that the release of an officals' name would usually not necessarily prejudice their privacy for the purposes of s9(2)(a)?

For example, in the Ombudsman Quarterly Review 1-3 it was stated "While the name of an official in one sense personal information about them, disclosure of a name in the context of their position in the public sector will not unduly or unreasonably infringe upon the official’s privacy" and in the OQR 8-3 it was stated "
Public officials’ names should, in principle, be available when requested under the Official Information Act (OIA). Anonymity of public employees and statutory appointees should be reserved for special circumstances such as where the safety of individuals is at issue"

Given these comments by the Ombudsman, would the Privacy Commissioner reconsider their withholding of persons' names?

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger

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From: Katrine Evans
Privacy Commissioner

Hi Joshua

"Necessary and Desirable" is all available on our website at http://privacy.org.nz/the-privacy-act-an.... It's a long document, so it's split up into the various chapters for convenience. Hopefully, you can find what you need in there.

We're aware of the Ombudsmen's ruling, but are of the view that the situation here is distinguishable from the case in which that ruling was made.

Kind regards
Katrine

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