Freedom of Information
Applications for information under the Freedom of Information 2000
The Freedom of Information Act is part of a wide group of policies to modernise public authorities and aims to promote a culture of openness and accountability within public authorities. It does this by giving anyone, anywhere, the right to request recorded information held by public authorities.
All public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must comply with the Act.
The Act applies to all 'recorded' information that we hold. This includes electronic and paper files, leaflets, letters, e-mail and CCTV footage. All historical information is included.
Not everything requested may necessarily be released. There are a number of exemptions which apply when releasing the information would not be in the public interest. There are two categories of exemption:
'Absolute' - these exemptions cover information that should not be released under any circumstances e.g. parliamentary privilege, court records and personal information (which may be covered by the Data Protection Act).
'Qualified' - these exemptions are subject to a public interest test and cover such areas as national security, law enforcement and health and safety
Anyone asking for information has the right:
To be told whether the information exists (except for absolute exemptions where we do not have to confirm or deny whether we have the information)
To receive the information (unless it is exempt) and, where possible, in the form requested, such as a copy or summary, or to inspect the record.
All requests for information must be made in writing. This includes faxes and emails as well as letters. The request must include the name of the person making the request, a physical address for the correspondence to be sent to and a description of the information wanted. This will ensure that your application is dealt with as quickly as possible. You should give as many details as you can in order to assist us in locating the information that you require. You only have a right to recorded information and not to documents.
Our full title and address for forwarding requests is:
The Information Officer
16 Summer Lane
Any fee charged will be calculated by looking at the costs directly and reasonably incurred locating the information you have asked for and giving it to you. You will then be sent a 'fees notice' which you will have to pay within three months of your request - you will not receive information until you have paid the costs in the fees notice.
For requests which cost us less than £450 we can charge for the cost of disbursements (photocopying, printing and posting). The £450 limit includes the time taken to find, sort and edit material. It does not include the time taken to consider whether an exemption applies and the public interest test.
We will reply to your request promptly and in any event within 20 working days after we receive it, unless there are specific reasons which prevent us from doing so.