The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into force on 1 January 2005. The Act is intended to promote greater openness and accountability by providing a general right of access to information held by:
- Local authorities
- Central government
Differences between Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 1998
If the information is personal and about the individual making the request then the Data Protection Act 1998 will apply and the request should be treated as a Subject Access Request.
The publication scheme is a guide to the type of information the council routinely publishes. Please take a look at the publication scheme before making a request, to see whether the required information is included. If the information you wish to see is not included within the scheme, you are still able to make a request under the general right of access.
How to make a request
Your request for information must be made in writing (this includes using our online freedom of information request form, emails and faxes). You must provide a name and address and clearly set out what information you are requesting. The council has 20 working days from receipt of the request to respond - either by providing the information requested or refusing the request. School-related enquiries will be dealt with within 20 working school days.
The Act does provide certain exemptions to the general right of access. If any of the information requested is exempt, you will be informed which exemption applies and why. Examples include information that is commercially sensitive, confidential or readily available elsewhere.
Some requests for information may be covered by other legislation, such as environmental information which can be accessed through Environmental Information Regulations or personal data which is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998.
Should we be unable to supply anything you request, we will explain the reasons to you.
When estimating the cost of complying with a written request for information, we take into account the staff time, charged at a rate of £25 per hour, involved in the following activities:
- determining whether information is held
- locating the information or a document which may contain the information
- retrieving the information or a document which may contain the information
- extracting the information from a document containing it.
Where the cost of complying with a written request for information is estimated to be below £450 ('appropriate limit') there will be no charge other than the costs of reproducing the information and postage. Where the cost of complying with a written request for information is estimated to be more than £450, you will be issued with a fees notice in respect of reproduction and postage costs and must pay those costs within a period of three months.
We are not obliged to respond to a written request for information where it estimates that the cost of complying with the request would be in excess of £450 ('the appropriate limit').
If we receive two or more related requests within a period of 60 consecutive working days, from a person or different persons who appear to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign, the costs of complying with the individual requests will be aggregated.
If the estimated aggregated cost of complying with the requests exceeds £450, the council will not be obliged to comply with the request.
Schedule of fees charged as at 1 January 2009
There will be no charge for making a request for information.
The council aims to provide information that is made available at the minimum of cost to the requestor. The council is able to charge for:
- disbursements such as photocopying and/or postage etc; and
- information that the authority is legally authorised to charge for
- photocopying 9p per page
- postage 2nd class mail delivery as per www.royalmail.com.
If there is a charge for providing the information, you will be informed of any charge before the information is provided.
Your rights for review
You have the right to request a review if you believe that:
- the request for information was not dealt with within the appropriate time limit
- you did not receive all of the information you requested
- you did not receive reasons why your request has been refused
- exemptions have been wrongly applied
- information has not been included within the scheme, that should be included; and/or
- feel that a fee has been wrongly charged.
Your request for a review will be fully investigated. If it relates to a response to a request for information, it will be dealt with by an officer who was not involved in the original decision. This should be submitted to us within 40 working days of this response. Any requests received after the 40 working day time limit will be considered only at the discretion of the council.
You will receive an acknowledgment within five working days of receipt of your request for a review. A full investigation and any decision will be made and conveyed to you usually within 20 working days.
If we are unable to deal with your request for a review within this time, we will inform you and let you know the reason for the delay.
You must put your request for a review in writing in one of the following formats:
- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- fax us at 0208 760 5679
- write to us by letter and sending it to FOI Reviews, London Borough of Croydon, Democratic and Legal Services, Croydon, CR9 3JS.
You can ask another organisation to help you make your request for a review, such as your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or ask a member of staff at the council to help you.
What outcomes can there be following an a review?
We may decide one or more of the following:
- information may be disclosed which was previously withheld, and/or;
- that the council has not followed its procedures in relation to Freedom of Information. We will apologise and tell you what we will do to put it right and to make sure that similar errors do occur in the future, or;
- that the initial decision to withhold information is upheld and/or;
- that the council has correctly followed its procedures.
What if I am not happy with the council's response to my review?
If you are not satisfied with our response to your request for a review, you may contact the Information Commissioner to ask him to investigate the matter. You can contact the Information Commissioner at the address given below.