Detainee escapes in Darwin

Lawrence Bull made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Home Affairs

The request was refused by Department of Home Affairs.

From: Lawrence Bull

Delivered

Dear Department of Immigration and Citizenship,

Under the Freedom of Information Act (1982) I request all incident reports (and their attachments) concerning the escape or recapture of detainees in Darwin between 1 May 2013 and 15 May 2013.

I request a 5 hour limit on decision making time, and if this reduces the scope of the documents released, then I request that older reports (with their attachments) are prioritised over newer ones.

Regards,

Lawrence Bull

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From: Lawrence Bull

Delivered

Dear Department of Immigration and Citizenship,

Could you please inform me as to the status of this request?

Yours faithfully,

Lawrence Bull

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From: FOI

UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 13/08/00345; ADF2013/25158

 

Dear Mr Lawrence Bull

 

I am writing to you in response to your email on 24 July 2013, purportedly
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and asking that the
Department of Immigration and Citizenship provide you with a copy of the
following document:

 

“Under the Freedom of Information Act (1982) I request all incident
reports (and their attachments) concerning the escape or recapture of
detainees in Darwin between 1 May 2013 and 15 May 2013.

    

I request a 5 hour limit on decision making time, and if this reduces the
scope of the documents released, then I request that older reports (with
their attachments) are prioritised over newer ones.”

 

The purpose of this email is to advise you that I consider the request to
be invalid under the FOI Act. I will explain my reasons in full below.
Before doing so, I will outline the way that charges are assessed under
the FOI Act.

 

Charges

 

First, it is important that you understand that charges imposed under a
charges notice apply to all work undertaken to process the request. It
includes the work undertaken in registering the request, acknowledging the
request, creating relevant record keeping files, identifying the documents
requested, collating the document, allocating to a decision maker,
considering the documents against the requirements of the Act, consulting
any relevant parties that might be affected by the release (either
formally or informally), taking those comments into account, finalising
the decision and then providing the decision to the applicant. As you can
see, the charges notice is not limited to what you have referred to as
‘decision making time’.

 

Issue regarding your request

 

You have asked the Department to provide you with incident reports
relating to escapes or recapture of detainees in Darwin between 1 May 2013
and 15 May 2013 that would fall within the first 5 hours of FOI processing
time. However, s.15(2)(b) of the FOI Act requires the applicant to provide
sufficient information to allow a responsible officer of the agency to
identify the documents requested.

 

Unfortunately, by adding this second element to the scope of your request
you have made your request invalid. Adding this paragraph means that the
scope does not comply with the requirement in s.15(2)(b) of the Act. The
element of your scope, that the request is limited to the documents that
would be assessed within the first 5 hours of decision making time is
invalid because it requires the agency to locate all relevant documents
falling between 1 May 2013 and 15 May 2013 and then assess them for
charges before deciding to narrow the scope on your behalf.  

 

As an aside, in the event that there were a large number of documents
within scope, it is entirely possible that the 5 hours of processing time
could be ‘expended’ in the registration, searching and collating phase. In
that event, your scope would have been met before the FOI Section had
received the documents and there would be no capacity for the agency to
even consider the documents for release.

 

Advice

 

I am satisfied that your request does not provide sufficient information
to allow a responsible officer of the agency to identify the documents you
seek and have closed your request as invalid.

 

Next steps

 

You are welcome to resubmit your request without the paragraph seeking to
limit the scope to the first 5 hours of decision making time.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Angela O'Neil
Assistant Director

FOI & Privacy Policy
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Telephone: (02) 6264 1382
Email: [1][DIAC request email]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[DIAC request email]

Link to this

From: FOI

UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 13/08/00345; ADF2013/25158

 

Dear Mr Bull

 

Please note that there was an error in the email below. I was referring to
the email received from you on 3 August 2013, not 24 July.

 

Please accept my apologies for the error in the date.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Angela O'Neil
Assistant Director

FOI & Privacy Policy
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Telephone: (02) 6264 1382
Email: [1][DIAC request email]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

From: FOI
Sent: Wednesday, 21 August 2013 3:43 PM
To: '[FOI #339 email]'
Cc: Linda ROSSITER
Subject: TRIM: Your request for incident reports - limited to 5 hours
decision making time [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 13/08/00345; ADF2013/25158

 

Dear Mr Lawrence Bull

 

I am writing to you in response to your email on 24 July 2013, purportedly
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and asking that the
Department of Immigration and Citizenship provide you with a copy of the
following document:

 

“Under the Freedom of Information Act (1982) I request all incident
reports (and their attachments) concerning the escape or recapture of
detainees in Darwin between 1 May 2013 and 15 May 2013.

    

I request a 5 hour limit on decision making time, and if this reduces the
scope of the documents released, then I request that older reports (with
their attachments) are prioritised over newer ones.”

 

The purpose of this email is to advise you that I consider the request to
be invalid under the FOI Act. I will explain my reasons in full below.
Before doing so, I will outline the way that charges are assessed under
the FOI Act.

 

Charges

 

First, it is important that you understand that charges imposed under a
charges notice apply to all work undertaken to process the request. It
includes the work undertaken in registering the request, acknowledging the
request, creating relevant record keeping files, identifying the documents
requested, collating the document, allocating to a decision maker,
considering the documents against the requirements of the Act, consulting
any relevant parties that might be affected by the release (either
formally or informally), taking those comments into account, finalising
the decision and then providing the decision to the applicant. As you can
see, the charges notice is not limited to what you have referred to as
‘decision making time’.

 

Issue regarding your request

 

You have asked the Department to provide you with incident reports
relating to escapes or recapture of detainees in Darwin between 1 May 2013
and 15 May 2013 that would fall within the first 5 hours of FOI processing
time. However, s.15(2)(b) of the FOI Act requires the applicant to provide
sufficient information to allow a responsible officer of the agency to
identify the documents requested.

 

Unfortunately, by adding this second element to the scope of your request
you have made your request invalid. Adding this paragraph means that the
scope does not comply with the requirement in s.15(2)(b) of the Act. The
element of your scope, that the request is limited to the documents that
would be assessed within the first 5 hours of decision making time is
invalid because it requires the agency to locate all relevant documents
falling between 1 May 2013 and 15 May 2013 and then assess them for
charges before deciding to narrow the scope on your behalf.  

 

As an aside, in the event that there were a large number of documents
within scope, it is entirely possible that the 5 hours of processing time
could be ‘expended’ in the registration, searching and collating phase. In
that event, your scope would have been met before the FOI Section had
received the documents and there would be no capacity for the agency to
even consider the documents for release.

 

Advice

 

I am satisfied that your request does not provide sufficient information
to allow a responsible officer of the agency to identify the documents you
seek and have closed your request as invalid.

 

Next steps

 

You are welcome to resubmit your request without the paragraph seeking to
limit the scope to the first 5 hours of decision making time.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Angela O'Neil
Assistant Director

FOI & Privacy Policy
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Telephone: (02) 6264 1382
Email: [2][DIAC request email]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

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1. mailto:[DIAC request email]
2. mailto:[DIAC request email]

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