Anyone can use the FOIA UK to make a Freedom of Information request from a public body or organisation. Check out how much it costs to make a request and how long the process takes.
Most of the public sector organisations store certain types of information.
But, the Freedom of Information Act provides anyone the right to access the recorded data.
There are several different acts and regulations that handle the requests.
As a rule, it depends on what kind of information you are asking for. For example:
There are no restrictions on who can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Anyone, of any age and any nationality, and within the local and national communities, can make the call.
Note: There are several reasons why an organisation may refuse a request to release their data. Examples can include information that is too sensitive or situations where the cost to do so would be too high.
In some cases, there is no need to make an official request to get access to the information you need. Some of the organisations will give out the details straight away, often via a phone call.
There is a long list of public sector organisations covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). But, some of the most popular organisations you can request information about include:
Most of the Government departments, and their agencies, publish FOI responses online. You can also check the GOV.UK website for a list of updated publications and releases to FOI requests.
As a rule, you will need to contact an organisation in writing to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. There are several ways to make contact, including:
The basic information you should give includes:
You can ask the organisation to make their response in a particular format, including:
In most cases, you should receive the requested information within twenty working days. But, if the organisation needs more time they will inform you when to expect their response.
It is not uncommon for someone to send the same FOI request to more than one government department. If so, they may share the name and the request between them. It will help them to make an effective response to the enquiry.
Note: The departments and agencies will not share personal details, or use them, for any other purpose.
Most of the organisations do not make a charge for the requests. But, they might ask you to pay a small fee for photocopies or for postage. The organisation will inform you if there is a cost involved.
Note: You can check the copyright status of any information you get with the Intellectual Property Office. This may be necessary if you are planning to reproduce it.
Members of the public do not get access to some sensitive information. But, the organisation must inform you why they are unable to give some, or all, the information requested. In some cases, they may ask you to be more specific to help them hand over the details.
Note: An organisation can refuse a Freedom of Information (FOI) request based on the cost of doing so. They can make a refusal if the cost to find and extract the details will be over £450 (£600 for central government).
You can ask an organisation to review their decision if they fail to produce the information requested. The next step would be to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office if you remain unsatisfied.
How to Make a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request in the United Kingdom