Tuesday, 9 December 2008

How to Use Freedom of Information

  • In 2000, the Freedom of Information Act was passed which enables members of the public access documents held by all public authorities.
  • This means that government departments, local councils and branches of the civil service, national health service etc. are legally bound to provide you with the information you request.
  • This may includes dates, details and minutes of meetings, receipts, email correspondence and even transcripts of telephone calls if such a thing exists in their records.
  • There will be a limit to the volume of information that can be provided per request (usually up to £600 including staff costs for retrieval) so you could consider dividing your request up amongst your friends/email addresses.
  • A useful site about Freedom of Information is http://www.cfoi.org.uk/
  • A simple google search for the authority you are interested in and 'freedom of information' will usually bring up a relevant web page and email address.
  • All you need to do to access this information is to send an email with your request to the relevant office.

So, for example, information about making requests to the Scottish Government can be found at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/FOI/access#a3

This includes the following advice:

How to request information

Freedom of Information requests should be made in writing (which includes email).

Please ensure you provide your name, an address for correspondence (which could be email), and if possible a telephone number.

There are various ways of contacting us:

Email us at ceu@scotland.gsi.gov.uk or phone 08457 741 741

Complete an online request form at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/HaveYourSay/infoRequest

Write to us at:

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

1 comment:

rob-d said...

You want to use What Do They Know from MySociety. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

WDTK will help you to make requests and to chase up the process. All the information returned under FOI is then publically readable too!