Freedom of Information (FOI)

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

Any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, supplied with that information.

As we are committed to protecting the communities we serve, preventing and detecting crime, it must be recognised that certain information should not be disclosed in the public interest.

Information concerning ongoing investigations, investigative methods, criminal intelligence and the use of related operational techniques must be protected. For these reasons, the following non-absolute exemptions from the act will be applied:

  • Section 30 Investigation and proceedings conducted by public authorities
  • Section 31 Law enforcement
  • Section 41 Information provided in confidence.

Individuals have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. As far as public authorities are concerned, the Freedom of Information Act has extended this right to allow public access to all types of information held.

Public authorities are required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out the classes of information it holds, the manner in which it intends to publish information, and whether a charge will be made for information. The purpose of a scheme is to ensure a significant amount of information is available, without the need for a specific request. Schemes are intended to encourage organisations to publish more information pro-actively and to develop a greater culture of openness.

The Act is enforced by the Information Commissioner, a post that combines regulation of both the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.

 

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