Letter from Immigration and Nationality Directorate - paternity testing

This was in response to a request (below) under the Freedom of Information Act.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate
IND Information Access Team
Whitgift Centre, Block C, 15 Wellesley Road, Croydon, CR9 2AT

Mr B Pearson
(Address omitted)

Our Ref: F 1351
Date 26 July 2005

Dear Sir

Thank you for your letter of 14 July 2005. The request for information you have made falls to be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act (2000).

First it maybe helpful if I provide some background information regarding DNA testing in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND).

The majority of cases involving DNA testing will be dealt with by the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) rather than IND. Although, IND use to consider cases for over-age re-applicants who have been wrongly refused and who subsequently re-applied with DNA evidence of their relationship to the sponsor by way of the DNA and over-age re-applicants concession, the DNA and over-age re-applicants concession was abolished on 24th August 2002.

Notwithstanding, there are occasions when there will be doubts between the sponsor and child in in-country applications which cannot be satisfactorily established even after further enquiries have been carried out, and the only compelling evidence that may resolve the issue maybe a DNA test. However, I would like to point out that the decision as to whether an in-country applicant undergoes DNA testing or not is taken by the applicant. Therefore, information concerning DNA testing would be held on an applicant's file.

As part of the Home Office, the IND is not obliged under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to comply with any information request where the estimated cost in supplying the information exceeds the £600 cost limit. I regret that we cannot supply you with the information that you have asked for, a to comply with your request would exceed this cist limit. This limit applies to all central Government Departments and is based on work being carried out by one member of staff at a rate of £25 per hour., which equates to 3 1/2 days work per request. The costs involved include locating and retrieving the information you requested, and preparing a response to you. They do not include considering whether any information is exempt from disclosure, overheads such as heating or lighting, or disbursements such as photocopying or postage.

Your request would at present be too costly to answer because to find the information would involve searching through individual case files as the data is not collated and held separately. However, if you were to refine your request further so that it falls under the £600 cost limit, we will be pleased to consider it further. Should you wish to refine your request, so that we can provide you with answers to your questions within the £600 cost limit, please write back to me at the above address. Although, on this occasion I am unable to suggest how you could refine your request.

I should also point out that if you were to break your original request down into a series of smaller applications, we might, depending on the circumstances of the case, decline to answer if the aggregated cost of complying would exceed £600.

You should also bear in mind that even if any new request were to fall below the £600 cost limit, some information which we hold on this matter which you have requested may fall to be withheld under the terms of a number of the substantive exemptions contained in Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. These exemptions could also make it necessary for us to extend the period for responding beyond the usual 20 working day target if they involve having to consider the public interest balancing test.

I realise that this reply may be a disappointment to you, but I look forward to hearing from you again shortly should you wish to refine your request. If, however, you are dissatisfied with the treatment of your request, you can ask the Department to conduct an internal review of its decision. This can be done by submitting your complaint to:
IND Complaints Unit
(Address omitted)

The internal review will be conducted by someone other than the person who took the initial decision,. If following the internal review you remain dissatisfied with the Department’s treatment of your request then you may refer your complaint to:
The Information Commissioner
(Address omitted)

Yours sincerely

Paul Feakins
IND Central Freedom of Information Team
Immigration and Nationality Directorate
Hone Office

My original request for information

(my address removed)

14th July 2005

Dear Sir

Please supply the following information, according to the Freedom Of Information Act.

Please tell me the number of DNA paternity tests performed each year, for IND cases, since the IND's (and its predecessor's) paternity testing system began. And, for each year, the number of these tests, or the percentage of them, that proved paternity.

It is acceptable to supply the numbers for 12-month periods other than calendar years, for example according to the IND's annual reporting cycle. If so, please identify the cycle. And it is acceptable to supply the number, or the percentage, which disproved rather than proved paternity.

Please indicate whether these figures apply just to Great Britain, or whether they include Northern Ireland too.

(For your information, this is part of a survey of "official" use of DNA paternity testing in the UK. Other requests include the Child Support Agency and the Department for Constitutional Affairs).

Yours faithfully

Barry Pearson

Page last updated: 6 September, 2005 © Copyright IND and Barry Pearson 2005