Case number: 150240
The applicant submitted a request to UCD on 6 November 2014 for all documentation held by the NVRL concerning laboratory tests carried out on his blood samples in 2011. UCD granted access to a number of records on foot of that request. On 13 January 2015 UCD received a letter from the applicant which stated that he did not believe that all records relating to the laboratory requests carried out had been released to him. He stated that he anticipated receiving records relating to the handling and storage of his blood specimen, including the temperature log information for the freezer and refrigeration units in which his specimen was stored. On 27 January 2015 UCD released a temperature log of all freezer and refrigeration units in the NVRL to the applicant between 1 December 2011 and 7 December 2011 recording the temperature at 10 minute intervals.
In his request for internal review dated 23 February 2015, the applicant referred to documentation that indicated that temperatures were taking every 2.5 minutes, and he sought "a whole and complete account of the temperature readings, every 2.5 minutes between 01/12/2011 - 07/12/2011". UCD issued its internal review decision on 16 March 2015, refusing the applicant's request for the temperature logs sought under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act, on the basis that no records exist with a greater level of details than those which had been released. The applicant sought a review by this Office of UCD's decision on 29 July 2015.
In his application to this Office the applicant referred to three categories of documentation still to be released to him. Mr Art Foley of this Office wrote to the applicant on 9 October 2015 explaining that the scope of this Office's review would be limited to a review of UCD's decision in relation to the temperature logs, given that this was the basis for the applicant's internal review request.
Mr Foley later wrote to the applicant on 30 October 2015 providing details of UCD's submission in which it had stated why a temperature log could not be produced to the level of detail requested, and outlined his view that UCD was justified in its decision to refuse his request. No response has been received from the applicant to this correspondence. I therefore consider that this review should now be bought to a close by issue of a formal, binding decision.
In conducting this review, I have had regard to the correspondence between UCD and the applicant and to the communications between this Office and both the applicant and UCD on the matter.
This review is solely concerned with whether UCD was justified in refusing the applicant's request for a more detailed version of the temperature logs pertaining to freezer and refrigeration units in NVRL under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the basis that no such records exist.
Section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides that a request for access to a record may be refused if the record does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken. This means that I must have regard to the evidence available to the decision maker and the reasoning used by the decision maker in arriving at her decision. The evidence in "search" cases consists of the steps actually taken to search for the records, along with miscellaneous other evidence about the record management practices of the FOI body, on the basis of which the FOI body concluded that the steps taken to search for the records were reasonable. The Office's understanding of its role in such cases was approved by Mr Justice Quirke in the High Court case of Matthew Ryan and Kathleen Ryan v the Information Commissioner (2002 No. 18 M.C.A. available on this Office's website, www.oic.ie).
I understand that the monitoring system used to monitor the refrigeration units at the NVRL provides for the taking of temperatures every 2.5 minutes and the logging of temperatures every 10 minutes. The applicant does not accept that a computerised monitoring system will recognise a temperature value for a unit but fail to record the corresponding data, and he considers that a temperature log recording the temperature of the freezer and refrigeration units in NVRL at 2.5 minute intervals should exist.
In a submission to this Office dated 15 October 2015, UCD provided an explanation as to why a temperature log recording the temperature of the freezer and refrigeration units in NVRL at 2.5 minute intervals is not available. In essence, UCD's position is that the temperature logs provided to the applicant, which record the temperature of the freezer and refrigeration units in the NVRL at 10 minute increments, are the sole temperature logs available. UCD stated that the equipment it uses to monitor the temperature performs two functions at two different time intervals. At the sample interval, every 2.5 minutes, the monitoring system checks for alarms based on criteria specified when setting up the system, for example, where the temperature deviates beyond a set range, or where there has been an interruption to the power supply of the logger. The only point at which the temperature of the freezer and refrigeration units is recorded is at the log interval. The time period applicable to the log interval is 10 minutes. UCD used the data available from the log interval to create the temperature log released to the applicant. UCD stated that as the temperature of the freezer and refrigeration units is not recorded at the sample interval, it is not possible for it to create a temperature log for the applicant at the requested time interval of 2.5 minutes.
Having regard to the explanation provided by UCD, I find that it was justified in deciding that more detailed temperature logs do not exist.
Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the FOI Act, I hereby affirm UCD's decision to refuse access to more detailed temperature logs under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that such records do not exist.
A party to a review, or any other person affected by a decision of the Information Commissioner following a review, may appeal to the High Court on a point of law arising from the decision. Such an appeal must be initiated not later than four weeks after notice of the decision was given to the person bringing the appeal.