Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was implemented on 1st January 2005 and covers all information held by public authorities.

The purpose of the Act is to make public authorities, including the police service more accountable to those that fund them and to make public authorities more transparent to members of the general public. It is intended to:

  • Foster a culture of openness
  • Improve the democratic process by giving greater access to information about the workings of public authorities
  • Provide Information about policy decisions that would enhance informed debate and decisions e.g. general crime prevention methods, road safety, crime initiatives, trends of crime, emergency contingency plans etc.;
  • Provide Information about public services e.g. what they cost, how public funds are utilised by public authorities, targets, performance etc.;
  • Provide Information about administrative decisions;
  • Provide statistical information;

In general, the Freedom of Information Act should be used to inform and educate the public as to how public authorities (e.g. Police Forces, NHS, Schools & other educational institutions, Local Government, Central Government etc.) run their services and spend public money, since the public have a right to know that their public services are being run efficiently and effectively.

Under FOI, there is an obligation for publicly funded bodies to consider requests for information and to provide a response under the terms of the legislation, within 20 working days (although this may be extended in some circumstances under the terms of the legislation). There is a presumption of disclosure unless the authority can demonstrate the harm in release.

Under the Act, public authorities are obliged to make information available through the following:

A General Right of Access

Publication Scheme