FOI request detail


Request ID: FOI-0815-1920
Date published: 18 July 2019

You asked

I would like copies of all emails correspondence sent from XXXXXX to Transport for London in the past 3 months

We answered

Our Ref:         FOI-0815-1920

Thank you for your request received on 20 June 2019 asking for copies of correspondence sent to TfL.

Your requests have been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm that we hold the information you require
However, we are refusing this request under section 14(1) of the Act. After reviewing a sample of our records we consider that providing the requested information would place an unreasonable burden on us. Our principal duty is to provide an effective transport service for London and we consider that answering this request would represent a disproportionate effort. It would be a significant distraction from our work managing the TfL network, requiring re-allocation of already limited resources and placing an unacceptable burden on a small number of personnel.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance states that one of the indicators of a request which may fall under section 14(1) is that it “appears to be part of a completely random approach, lacks any clear focus, or seems to have been solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”
The ICO guidance provides the following examples of a ‘fishing expedition’ request which may fall under section 14(1) if it:
- Imposes a burden by obliging the authority to sift through a substantial volume of information to isolate and extract the relevant details;
- Encompasses information which is only of limited value because of the wide scope of the request;
- Creates a burden by requiring the authority to spend a considerable amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions.

Our view is that all three of these examples apply in this instance. Your request does not relate to correspondence received from a representative of any organisation or body that would reasonably expect to have their dealings with us subject to public scrutiny. In order to process your request we would need to review each instance of correspondence to determine whether one or more of a number of exemptions might apply. Where correspondence is received by members of the public there would already be an inherent expectation of privacy but we would also need to consider the content and context of all relevant correspondence in order to fully consider whether any exemptions might apply.

It is our view that the request has been designed specifically for the purposes of fishing and it would be a wholly inappropriate use of our resources to spend such a significant amount of time reviewing correspondence provided to us in a personal capacity in order to facilitate this.

By its nature, we feel this wide ranging and non-specific request will very likely encompass information which is only of limited value. In that respect, it is noteworthy that your request is not for information on any specific subject or issue and nor does it relate to any representative or commercial organisation. We therefore consider the burden of retrieving, reviewing and redacting the information would be disproportionate to the benefit of providing it.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

[email protected]

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