Freedom of Information - What it means for you?
The FOI Act 2000 means that, since the 1st January 2005, you can get information to help you to understand better how this Department works, how we spend public money, and how and why we make our decisions.
Under section 19(1) of the Freedom of Information Act every public authority is required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out the classes of information it holds, the manner in which it intends to publish the information and whether or not a charge will be made for the information.
The Information Commissioner, who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, has drawn up a Model Publication Scheme and a Definition Document for all public sector organisations.
The Department has formally adopted the Information Commissioner’s model publication scheme. The scheme is organised into seven classes of information which are set out below. This structure aims to save you time and effort when searching for information.
How to make a request
One of the aims of the Freedom of Information Act is that public authorities should be clear and proactive about the information they will make public.
Central to this is the preparation of a publication scheme (a list of classes of information which the Department makes, or intends to make, routinely available). Please check published information for the information you require.
If the information you require is not listed there please make a request.
Your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing including email. Please ensure that you:
- print your name and address clearly
- state clearly the information you require
Sometimes we may need to contact you to clarify exactly what information you require.
It will help us process your request more quickly if you are specific about want you want and provide a telephone number on which we can contact you if necessary.
How long does it take to get information?
Once a request for information has been received, the Department has 20 working days in which to respond – this time can be extended if
- a qualified exemption applies and we need to consider the public interest
- a fee applies and we are waiting for you to pay the fee
Is there a cost for getting information?
Responses to enquiries that cost the Department less than £600 to process (For example; locating, retrieving and extracting the information) will normally be provided free of charge.
The Department has the right to refuse a response to a request that is estimated to cost more than £600 to process. However, the Department may choose to process the request if the cost is greater than £600 and if we do, you may be charged the costs in full. In this case, we will send you a fees notice and you can decide whether you want us to proceed.
The Department may impose a charge on any request in relation to disbursements. Disbursements include printing, photocopying and postage charges
You can also use our Publications search which contains all the documents we have made available.
Feedback, Comments and Complaints
Feedback and comments on the Department's publication scheme, or any aspect of Freedom of Information on this site, are welcomed.
f you have a complaint about this publication scheme you should write or send an e-mail to the Departmental Information Manager at the above address.
The Departmental Information Manager will investigate your complaint and provide you with a reply, normally within 20 working days of the receipt of the complaint.
If you are not satisfied with the reply from the Departmental Information Manager you should then contact the Director of Personnel and Corporate Services who is the senior manager responsible for this publication scheme.
The Director of Personnel and Corporate Services will investigate your complaint further and provide you with a reply, normally within 20 working days of the receipt of your notification of dissatisfaction with the reply from the Departmental Information Manager.
In all cases the Department will undertake to investigate your complaint fully and will try to resolve any matters raised as soon as possible within the resources available to it.
If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction after your reply from the Director of Personnel and Corporate Services you may refer your complaint on to the Information Commissioner who is independent of the Department.
However, before you refer the matter to the Information Commissioner you will have to have used the Department’s complaints procedure first.
More information about the Freedom of Information Act 2000 can be obtained from the Information Commissioner’s website.