Freedom of information
Find out more about The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and how you can access information held by the council.
Published: 17 December 2020
Last updated: 1 February 2021
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) gives you the right to request information held by the council, subject to exemptions.
It doesn’t give you the right to council documents, records, or information on other people. This means that there will be times when only some parts of a document or record will be made available to you.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be delays in processing FOI, GDPR, data protection and environmental information requests. We will handle all requests as quickly as possible and keep you informed on progress.
If you are seeking information about yourself, you already have the right of access under the Data Protection Act. Find out the categories of information the council is likely to collect.
Before making your information request
The council already makes a lot of information publicly available. We are committed to being transparent with how we spend public money and also publishing open data in line with the Local Government Transparency Code.
Before submitting a FOI request please search to see if the information you require is already published online, either in the disclosure log or in existing data categories.
The disclosure log gives you access to responses that the council has made to FOI and environment information requests in the past. We aim to publish all previous responses, but in some cases it may not be possible to include all attachments.
Existing data categories
If the information you require is not already publicly available the easiest way to make an FOI request is via our online form. Anyone can request information under the Act regardless of age, nationality or location.
Making a request
You can submit your request online, or by email or post.
Email: [email protected]
Post: Information Management Team (Information Services), 64 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QP.
Your request must include:
- your name
- your address
- a detailed description of the information you wish to obtain
- any preferences for the format for receiving the information
The council does not have to respond to broad requests for information. Please make your request as specific as possible, and ensure that the description of information you require is clear and detailed. This helps us locate the information you are seeking faster.
If we don’t have enough information to find what you want, we may come back to you with more questions.
How long does it take?
Your request will be acknowledged within five working days.
The council has up to 20 working days to comply with your request, as set out in the The Freedom of Information Act 2000.
We will consider your request, and let you know if we can provide the information you requested or explain why we can't.
Checking the status of your request
Before you contact us check how long it has been since you made the request:
- if it is less than 20 working days please don't contact us
- if it has been more than 20 working days please call 020 7641 6000 with your reference number and date the request was submitted
If the work required to retrieve the requested information costs more than £450, we are allowed to charge you for it.
The council also reserves the right to charge for disbursements eg. photocopying and postage.
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 respond to your request.
If the cost of meeting your request exceeds the appropriate limit in the regulations, we are not required to meet your request. If you refuse to pay the fee, the council can refuse to supply the information.
These fees do not apply to the normal charges made for some publications as set out in our Publication Scheme.
If your 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.
Making a complaint
We will always try to help you with queries and requests for information.
If you disagree with any exemptions applied to your request for information, or you are not satisfied with how we have handled your request, you are entitled to ask for an internal review of the council’s response.
If you would like to request an internal review please contact the Information Management Team by email at [email protected] or at the address provided on the response letter.
If you are still not satisfied with the outcome having gone through the council’s Internal Review procedure, you can ask the Information Commissioner to review the decision.
About the publication scheme
Under the Freedom of Information Act, public authorities are required to have a publication scheme. A publication scheme is a guide which tells people about the broad classes of information that we will routinely make available to the public. It includes information held in any form for example, websites, paper files and public registers.
We have adopted the Information Commissioner's Model Publication Scheme for local authorities.
The Information Commissioner is an independent regulator who enforces and advises upon the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations and has produced and approved this scheme.
Have your say
We hope the publication scheme meets your needs whether you are a visitor, resident, student or local business.
However, if you can't find what you are looking for, let us know and we'll try to improve it. We also welcome suggestions on how to improve the publications themselves.
Please send any queries, comments or complaints to the Knowledge and Information Management Team. All the contacts listed below can also post you a printed copy of the adopted publication scheme.
Freedom of Information Team
If you have a complaint about any aspect of this scheme or about the performance of Westminster City Council in dealing with your requests for information please contact the FOI Team.
Email: [email protected]
Information management Team (Information Services)
64 Victoria Street
Reference copies of the publication scheme can also be obtained from Westminster libraries.
Responsibility for overseeing the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 rests with the Information Commissioner who is an independent public official responsible to Parliament. You can contact the Information Commissioner for advice, guidance or to make a complaint directly.
Post: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Email: [email protected]