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Police delay in responding to OIA request

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Police failed to advise a requester of its decision on an Official Information Act (OIA) request as early as it could have because of its practice of advising the Police Minister three working days in advance of decisions on certain requests.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier formed the final opinion that Police failed to communicate its decision ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ as required under section 15(1)(b) of the OIA.

Although the response to the requester on information about the Police’s ‘consent to assume online identity’ process was finalised on day 16 of the 20-working day statutory period, Police waited until day 20 to provide the Police Minister 72 hours’ notice as was its practice with certain types of requests.

Police said the 72-hour notice period was standard practice for all ministerial notifications. However, the Chief Ombudsman was of the opinion that Police did not demonstrate 72 hours was necessary in this particular case.

He said agencies cannot take a blanket approach to ministerial notifications but should instead assess what notice period is appropriate on a case by case basis.

Police informed the Chief Ombudsman that it had amended its ministerial notifications practice during his investigation.

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