Freedom of Information Overview


  • Definitions
  • Publication Scheme
  • Right of Access
  • Processing Access Request

The Freedom of Information Act 2000

  • An Act to make provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them and to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Public Records Act 1958; and for connected purposes

The Information Commissioner

  • 1984 - Data Protection Registrar
  • 1998 - Data Protection Commissioner
  • 2000 - Information Commissioner
    • Approval Role
    • Enforcement Role
The Council's Publication Scheme

  • What we intend to publish as a matter of course
  • How it is published
  • How it can be accessed
  • Any fees payable

Right of Access

  • What? Anything
  • Who? Anybody
  • Where from? Anywhere
  • Why? - None of your business

Access Request

  • In writing
  • Name + Address
  • How information required
  • Describe Information Requested
    • Advice & Assistance

Response to Request

  • Confirm or Deny information held
  • Communicate information
  • Exemptions
  • Fees
  • Time limit


  • Absolute
  • Qualified
  • Public Interest Test
  • Two stages

Public Interest Test

  • Does the Public Interest in maintaining the exemption outweigh the duty to disclose?
  • If there is a balance, disclose
  • What are the factors involved?
  • What is relevant?
  • What is not relevant?

7 Absolute Exemptions

  • S21 Information accessible by other means;
  • S23 National security;
  • S32 Court records;
  • S34 Parliamentary privilege;
  • S40 Personal information about the applicant;
  • S41 Information provided in confidence;
  • S44 Prohibition on disclosure

15 Qualified Exemptions

  • S22 Future publication;
  • S24 National security;
  • S26 Defence or armed forces;
  • S27 International relations;
  • S28 Relations within the UK
  • S29 The economy of the UK;
  • S30 Investigations/proceedings;
  • S31 Law enforcement;
  • S36 Effective conduct of public affairs;
  • S37 Communications with Her Majesty
  • S38 Health & safety;
  • S39 Environmental information;
  • S40 Personal information about third party;
  • S42 Legal professional privilege;
  • S43 Commercial interests


  • Four factors:
    • Prescribed Costs
    • Disbursements
    • Appropriate Limit
    • Allowed maximum

Time Limit

  • 20 working days
  • Clock stopped between issue of a Fees Notice and fee being paid
  • Clock stopped when clarification is sought
  • Clock may be stopped to enable the Public Interest to be assessed

If Information Not Supplied

  • Applicant can use the Corporate Complaints Procedure
  • Applicant can complain directly to the Information Commissioner
  • Commissioner can issue Information Notice, Decision Notice or Enforcement Notice


  • FoIA assumes information will be disclosed
  • Must publish information as described in its Publication Scheme
  • Must help people to submit requests where necessary
  • Information must be retained only as long as necessary - and must be disposed of properly
  • Must ensure that data are accessible to respond to access requests promptly

Further Information

Principal Governance Officer: (01642) 444092

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