Care Inquiry memorial (FOI)
Care Inquiry memorial (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 25 July 2019.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
I wish to request an unredacted version of this document.
IJCI: Implementing the Citizens Panel Legacy Recommendations
It appeared as part of the following Freedom of Information published response:
Care Inquiry Citizen's Panel (FOI)
Articles 25 and Article 35 were applied.
Neither of these Articles should apply - the information contained in the document I am requesting is not of a personal nature, nor does it pertain to 'policy' under development.
What is being debated and looked at is not of a legislative or political nature, indeed the FOI response describes Ministerial involvement in the process as "light but supportive", it simply refers to designing a memorial.
Seeing the contents of the document, and thereby gaining an understanding of how the project is progressing, is of the highest public importance. The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry was one of the most important and damning reports to have ever been published about the Island's public service, regarding systemic failings that touched generations of Islanders and bled into all aspects of government, resulting in a radical overhaul of the way in which it functions in order to 'put children first' and maintain a commitment to 'open government'.
Full transparency regarding how the IJCI Panel's key recommendations are being implemented is therefore crucial. Care leavers and Haut de la Garenne / other abusive care home survivors, as well as the wider public, deserve to know the current plans for how this dreadful moment in public life will be recognised.
It is noted that Article 25 (Personal Information) of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 (the FOI Law) was applied to the emails supplied within the aforementioned Freedom of Information response and not to the requested report.
Article 35 (Formulation and Development of Policy) of the FOI Law was applied to the redactions within the document and the following justification provided to explain the application of the exemption:
Article 35 Formulation and development of policies
Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken by the Scheduled Public Authority (SPA). The SPA has reviewed the balancing arguments in relation to public interest favouring release versus public interest favouring withholding.
Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities the emails exempted relate to an ongoing situation and sensitive aspects of the Care Inquiry recommendations. The relevant officers are conscious of the rights of the Citizen’s Panel and their participation in the decision making process relating to the memorial. There is also a strong argument that premature release of certain details could have a real and substantial chilling effect on the willingness of parties to contribute to the project, and therefore on the relevant team of Government of Jersey Officers to implement the recommendations of the Care Inquiry panel.
The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) – and indeed good government, requires the possible impact of proposed policy to be reviewed, and for Ministers and officials to be able to discuss and test those proposed policies in a comprehensive way. Discussions in relation to the memorial are ongoing and, as noted above, early disclosure of details could inhibit the Citizen’s Panel in their contribution to the project.
Taking into account the various factors, the SPA believes that it is necessary to exempt these emails from release as any public interest is outweighed by the potential damage of release to ongoing policy development.
It should also be noted that once a policy has been completed and the final memorial confirmed, the public interest in withholding information relating to its formation is diminished, however, the use of the exemption can be supported if it preserves sufficient freedom during the formulation phase to explore options without that process being hampered by some expectation of future publication.
Government policy is under development in relation to the recommendations of the Care Inquiry. Policy does not need to be of a legislative or political nature to carry this exemption.
It is the Government’s responsibility to provide a safe space for the development and implementation of policy, in particular where care survivors / private individuals are an integral part of the underlying discussions.
Policy development involves the review and discussion of multiple options, some of which are then not progressed. It is important that Government is able to continue to work with groups, such as the Citizens Panel, within this safe space to produce cohesive policy that is fit for purpose, and that these approved, considered and evidenced policies are then communicated.
Timing is an important consideration in relation to the application of Article 35. The requested report relates to an ongoing situation; the funding, design and location of the memorial will be communicated once the decisions have been made. This helps to ensure the decision-making process is robust, and stakeholders views are sought during the process where appropriate.
The release of an un-redacted copy of the report is therefore withheld under Article 35 of the FOI Law.
Further information in relation to Article 35 is available within the UK OIC Guidance on this Article. Whilst the UK article varies from the Jersey one, the main features are the same:
IOC Guidance - Government Policy