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Staff complaints (2022)

Request

1. How many people contacted the ICGS helpline in each of [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?

2. If possible, please state how many people contacted the ICGS helpline about sexual misconduct for [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?

3. In relation to question 2, please state how many people were contacting the ICGS helpline about sexual misconduct concerning a) an MP b) another member of staff?

4.
a. How many investigations were started by the ICGS in each of [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?
and
b. How many of these investigations were upheld, for [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?

5. If possible, for [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date], please state how many investigations concerned a) bullying or b) sexual misconduct? (Please say if there are any investigations which concerned another issue)

6. For [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date] please state how many of these investigations concerned a) MPs b) other members of staff

7. For [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date], please state a) the longest time taken for an investigation to conclude, b) the average time taken and c) the number of investigations lasting longer than a year

 

Response

Please note that whilst the House of Commons and House of Lords are two separate public authorities for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the ICGS covers the whole of the parliamentary community. Therefore, the vast majority of information held in relation to the ICGS covers both Houses of Parliament. However, some of the information you have requested can be disaggregated between each House, and where this is the case, information relating only to the House of Commons has been provided and this is specified. For information relating solely to the House of Lords, please contact foilords@parliament.uk.

Please also note that the reporting year for the ICGS runs from 1 July of one year to 30 June of the next.
The Annual Reports of the ICGS, covering each reporting year since its start, are available
• The 2021/22 report is due for future publication and will also be available online

1. How many people contacted the ICGS helpline in each of [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?

Some information is held by the House of Commons in relation to this part of your request. We hold information about the number of people who have contacted the ICGS Helpline in each quarter, covering the period between 1 January 2019 and 30 June 2022.

However, this information is already available from a public source. This information is therefore exempt from disclosure in accordance with section 21(1) and (2)(a) FOIA, which removes from a public authority the obligation to provide access to information which is already in the public domain. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

However, it may help you to know that information on numbers contacting ICGS helpline can be found on our website.

2. If possible, please state how many people contacted the ICGS helpline about sexual misconduct for [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?

Some information is held by the House of Commons in relation to this part of your request.

For the period between the start of the ICGS on 19 July 2018 and 30 June 2020, the ICGS Helpline was formed of two separate numbers run by two separate providers, with one for bullying and harassment and another for sexual misconduct. We hold information about how many contacts were made to the latter helpline during this period (Table 1).

Please note that the number of calls and emails does not necessarily correspond to the number of cases of sexual misconduct. The Helpline is used for a variety of different reasons, such as for advice.

For the period from 1 July 2020, the two services were combined into one helpline. From this date forward, we therefore do not hold disaggregated information about how many calls relate to bullying and harassment and how many relate to sexual misconduct.

3. In relation to question 2, please state how many people were contacting the ICGS helpline about sexual misconduct concerning a) an MP b) another member of staff?

This information is not held by the House of Commons.

We do not hold information about the role of the people mentioned in calls made to the ICGS Helpline. Neither our current supplier nor our past suppliers categorise calls and emails in this way.

4.
a. How many investigations were started by the ICGS in each of [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?
and
b. How many of these investigations were upheld, for [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date]?

This information is held by the House of Commons.

We hold information about the number of investigations started in each reporting year and, of those with a recorded outcome, whether they were upheld or not upheld. For the reporting years of 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21, this information is already publicly available. This information is therefore also exempt from disclosure in accordance with section 21(1) and (2)(a) FOIA.

However, it may help you to know that this information is available in the ICGS’s Annual Reports, which are published on our website.

For information falling within the 2021/22 and 2022/23 reporting years, this information is due for future publication and is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 22 FOIA. Section 22 is a qualified exemption, and accordingly we have to consider whether the public interest is in withholding the information or in disclosing it. The arguments for and against disclosure are detailed as follows. The general argument in favour of releasing information is that there is a public interest in being able to scrutinise aspects of the House of Commons where that information might be easy to access and will not prejudice the House. The argument against disclosure is the public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing. It is a part of the effective conduct of public affairs that the general publication of information is a conveniently planned and managed activity within the reasonable control of public authorities. Where the decision has been made in principle to publish, there is a reasonable entitlement to make arrangements to do so.

It may help you to know that the 2021/22 ICGS Annual Report, which covers the 2021/22 reporting year, will be published before the end of the October 2022. Information after the end of that reporting year is due to be covered in the following annual report.

5. If possible, for [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date], please state how many investigations concerned a) bullying or b) sexual misconduct? (Please say if there are any investigations which concerned another issue)

This information is held by the House of Commons. We hold information about whether each investigation was started under the Bullying and Harassment Policy or the Sexual Misconduct Policy (Table 2).

We hold the information about investigations started under each of the two policies, but for some reporting years we have chosen to provide them combined in this response. This is because of the ‘mosaic effect’, where information across several responses can be combined or compared to uncover information that would normally be withheld. In this case, we are seeking to protect information where a very low number of individuals are involved (fewer than 5), which may make it possible for individuals to be identified (and this would therefore constitute their personal data). If we disclosed all of the figures above for B&H and SM separately, a requester could request the same figures later on, but for both policies combined. If these two responses were made and then combined or compared, the requester could use subtraction to discover some figures which are lower than 5. Faced with this issue, we have concluded that the most helpful approach, while protecting the personal data of complainants, is to disclose figures for both policies combined.

On this basis, some figures in the table above have been redacted. In most cases, this is because the number itself is very low (fewer than 5). In other cases, as referred to above, the number might be 5 or higher, but disclosing it would allow the precise value of other figures fewer than 5 to be calculated. In both cases, this information is therefore exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) FOIA, as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data protection principles in Article 5 of the UK General Data Protection Regulation. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

6. For [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date] please state how many of these investigations concerned a) MPs b) other members of staff

This information is held by the House of Commons. We hold information about the roles of people who are the respondent where an investigation has started.

In the first instance, please note that Members of Parliament are not members of staff of the House of Commons. Furthermore, ‘other members of staff’ can refer to several groups. We have interpreted part (b) of this part of your request to be about investigations where the respondent was classified as being either a member of staff of the House of Commons, a member of staff of a bicameral team, or a member of staff of an MP.

Table of the number of these investigations, split between MPs in one column and those groups of staff listed above in the other column (Table 3).

Some information in the table above has been withheld. Again, this is because disclosing these figures may make it possible for individuals to be identified. This information is therefore also exempt from disclosure in accordance with section 40(2) FOIA.

It may help you to know that information about the roles of people who are the subject of complaints made to the ICGS, whether or not an investigation is started, is published in the ICGS’s Annual Report.

7. For [2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 to date], please state a) the longest time taken for an investigation to conclude, b) the average time taken and c) the number of investigations lasting longer than a year

This information is held by the House of Commons. Each of the pieces of information you are seeking under this part of your request are due for future publication in the 2021/22 ICGS Annual Report and are therefore exempt from disclosure in accordance with section 22 FOIA. It is exempt for the same reasons as described in the public interest test outlined above.