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Questions asked about Camden Council’s transparency after FOI discrepancy

PUBLISHED: 10:00 31 December 2014

Camden Town Hall, in Judd Street, King's Cross.

Camden Town Hall, in Judd Street, King's Cross.

Archant

Camden Council appears to be unsure of exactly what information it holds about children at its family of schools.

Earlier this month, the Ham&High reported that dozens of Camden families had defied new government rules banning pupils from going on holiday during school term time.

The story arose from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by reporter Tim Lamden who asked the council to break down the number of fines issued to parents for unauthorised pupil absence last year for each school in the borough.

Mr Lamden received an informative list of figures, albeit seven working days late, detailing the number of fines issued to parents of pupils for each primary and secondary school in Camden.

So it was with surprise that Heathman learnt of Camden Council’s obstructive response to an identical FOI request from journalism student Eleanor Bley Griffiths.

The 22-year-old, who is studying at City University London, asked the council in October to list the number of fines issued to parents for unauthorised pupil absences for each school in the borough over the past four years.

In response, council officer Tanya Bryant wrote: “We do not hold or collate this information. Schools should hold this information as schools are data controllers in their own right.”

It is a familiar reply for several Ham&High reporters who have met the same response to FOI requests relating to Camden schools in recent months.

It left Heathman asking: Are council officers given carte blanche to decide which statutory requests for information they wish to answer?

A council spokesman said: “We are looking into this matter.”

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