Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to all information held by public authorities. The purposes of the Act are summarised below:
- To allow access to recorded information held by public authorities
- To create exemptions from the duty to disclose information
- To establish the arrangements for enforcement and appeal
This means you can have access to information held by public authorities or information that is held on their behalf.
However, it doesn't give people the right to Council documents or other types of records or information on other people. It gives a right (subject to exemptions) to the relevant information, so there will be times when only some parts of a document can be made available.
Before making your information request
The Council already makes a lot of information available, so check first, as if you can already get hold of it, the Council isn't obliged to deal with your request.
The best places to check are:
Who can request information under FOI?
Anyone can request information under the Act regardless of age, nationality or location.
How do I make a request?
Your request must be made in writing. You can submit your request via the Council's FOI Web Request Form, or by Fax 020 7641 2872. Alternatively you can contact the FOI Team directly.
Your request must include:
- Your name
- Your address
- A description of the information you wish to obtain
- Any preferences for the format for receiving the information
If you have a general enquiry about Freedom of Information or wish to enquire about a request you have already made please contact the FOI team using this online form.
Much as we would like to, the Council doesn't have the manpower to respond to broad requests for information, so please be as specific as possible so we can locate it. Also, we should be able to get back to you faster. If we don't have enough information to find what you want, we may come back to you with more questions.
What happens when I make a request?
When we get a request for information, we have to respond promptly within 20 working days. We will consider your request, and let you know if we can provide the information you requested, or explain why we can't.
What does it cost?
If the requested information costs more than £450, we are allowed to charge you for it. If we intend to charge a fee, we will tell you first and you then have 3 months in which to pay. Once we get the fee, we will then respond to your request. If the cost of meeting your request exceeds the appropriate limit in the regulations, we are not obliged to meet your request. If you refuse to pay the fee, the Council can refuse to supply the information. The Council also reserves the right to charge for disbursements e.g. Photocopying and postage. These fees do not apply to the normal charges made for some publications as set out in our Publication Scheme.
Full details how these costs are calculated can be found in our Charging Policy.
What happens if my request is refused?
A request for information may only be refused if:
- it is vexatious or repeated
- if we have asked you for more information in order to meet your request and you have not provided it
- if it falls under one of the exemptions
If your request is refused, we will explain why and give you details of how to apply for an internal review of this decision. For details on how to make a complaint, see below. If, after an internal review, the Council still refuses your request, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review that decision.
Making a complaint
We will always try to help you with queries and requests for information. But if you do have a complaint, please follow the Council's complaint procedures. Information about this can be found under Complaints and Compliments on our website.
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