Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) gives the public the right to see all kinds of information held by the government and public authorities. This information can include whether a local authority is dealing with a problem that is affecting your community, how effective a policy has been, to find out about an authorities spending , to check whether an authority is doing what it says it is and to learn more about the real reasons for decisions.

There are exemptions but authorities will only be able to withhold information if an exemption in the Act allows them to. Even exempt information may have to be disclosed in the public interest.

If you want information that relates to the environment then this will be dealt with by the Environment Information Regulations not the FOI.

The data protection act deals with your rights to see personal information held about you by both public authorities and private bodies.

Any person can make a request under the FOI act. All you have to do is write, (a letter, email or fax) to the public authority that holds the information you want. You should describe the information you want in as much detail as possible. The authority must reply promptly or contact you if the request will take longer than 20 days.

The Freedom of Information Act applies to all 'public authorities' - this includes

The following links provide more detailed information about the Act.

This site gives information on how to make requests, what happens after a request has been made, how much it cots and your right of appeal.

A downloadable pdf. A very easy to understand guide on how to make a request for information.

The Office of Public Sector Information. The act in its entirety.

This document relates to schools and the Records Management Society

Compiled by Nycola Simpson 2008