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Freedom of information requests

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act entitles anybody to ask a public authority in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, including government departments, for any recorded information that they keep. The act gives us all greater access to information about how decisions are taken in government and how public services are developed and delivered, and operates alongside the Data Protection Act and the Environmental Information Regulations

How do I ask for information?

Requests for information can be made in a number of ways.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is an independent body that enforces the Freedom of Information Act , the Data Protection Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, and you might find the information on their website useful.

What type of information can I ask to have?

You can ask to have any information that is already held in recorded form. However, the act doesn't cover information that's in someone’s head. We don't have to create new information in order to respond to a request, or find the answer to a question from staff who may happen to know it.

Can my request be declined?

We'll provide you with the information unless there's a good reason for not doing so - for example if your request relates to the personal details of another person. If we decline your request, we'll let you know why we made this decision. If you don't agree, you can ask us to reconsider our decision. If the request is still declined you have the right to apply directly to the information commissioner for a decision.

What format can I request information to be in?

You can request that your information is supplied in any format (for example paper or electronically), although there may be a charge for some formats.

How much will it cost to make a request?

A lot of information may be supplied free of charge. However, sometimes you may have to pay a fee, either to cover administration costs, or to pay photocopying or postage costs, or because of the expense involved in finding and supplying the information. You'll be told in advance if a fee will apply.