Information on Freedom of Information
What is Freedom of Information?
The Freedom of Information Act (2000) gives the general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. It came into force in January 2005. This legislation gives you the opportunity to find out what the School does and how we do it, thus making the School more accountable.
How does Freedom of Information work?
Individuals have the right of access to recorded information held by the School, irrespective of its age. Requests must be made in writing (by letter, email or fax) and must be answered, to confirm or deny that information is held and provide it, unless an exemption applies, within 20 working days. A fee may be charged for providing the information.
The School's publication scheme is a guide to the information that the School routinely publishes. The publication scheme sets out the classes of information published, the manner of publication and details of any charges.
Exemptions and fees
The School is committed to providing access to information. However there are a number of exemptions under which a request for information may be refused. These are:
- If the information is exempt from FOI
- On the grounds of excessive cost
- If the request is vexatious or repeated
There are 23 exemptions under which a request for information may be refused. These include data protection, commercial interests, information intended for future publication, information provided in confidence and information accessible to the applicant by other means.
While some exemptions are absolute (e.g. personal information), others may be subject to a public interest test which means that the School must decide whether or not it is in the public interest to release the requested information. Situations in which a public interest test applies include requests for information intended for future publication, health and safety, or commercial interests.
If the requested information has been destroyed, the School must show that it has been destroyed in accordance with good business practice, such as compliance with a records retention schedule.
A request may be refused on the grounds of excessive cost. The Office of the Information Commissioner will soon be providing further information on fees regulations.
Codes of Practice
There are two codes of practice issued under the Act to control aspects of compliance:
- Section 45 Code of Practice on dealing with requests
- Section 46 Code of Practice on Records Management
Codes have no statutory force but if an institution does not conform to them, the Information Commissioner can recommend steps to be taken to promote conformity to the codes.
How to make a request
Information on making a request to the School for information are available in the guide to requesting information.