The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework to ensure that Reading Borough Council and Brighter Futures for Children fully endorses and adheres to the principles of Freedom of Information as defined in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Compliance with the Act will be achieved by making sure that we have an up to date Publication Scheme and that requests for information are dealt with as set out in this policy.
This Policy has been approved by the Corporate Information Governance Board and is evidence of the commitment to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.
This policy applies to all:
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives rights of public access to information held by public authorities.
It does this in two ways:
The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and by UK wide public authorities based in Scotland.
The Act does not give people access to their own personal data (information about themselves) such as their health records. If a member of the public wants to see information that a public authority holds about them, they have to make a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act.
Compliance with the Act is a legal duty and is overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The main principle behind freedom of information legislation is that people have a right to know about the activities of public authorities, unless there is a good reason for them not to.
A valid FOI request must:
Under the Act, public authorities may take up to 20 working days to respond, counting the first working day after the request is received as the first day.
Working day means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or public holidays and bank holidays.
The time allowed for complying with a request starts when the organisation receives it, not when it reaches the relevant teams that the requests relates to.
The Act has a series of exemptions that may prevent the right of access to information and which therefore may prevent release including:
Some exemptions are ‘absolute’ either in whole or part. This means that the requested information does not need to be disclosed under any circumstances.
Others are ‘qualified’ exemptions in that they are subject to a public interest test either in whole or part. This means that a public interest test will be carried out and the information will only be withheld if the public interest in not disclosing is greater than the public interest in disclosing.
Some of the ‘qualified’ exemptions are also subject to a prejudice test, which must be carried out before the information can be considered exempt. This test considers whether harm will or is likely to be caused if the information is released.
Expert opinion should always be sought from the Council’s Information Governance Team, when considering if any exemptions apply to a request.
Please refer to Appendix A for a list of exemptions.
The Procedure will be managed by the Customer Relations Team, for the purpose of the FOI Module system, CRT will be noted as The Triage Team and Response Team.
If the requestor is unhappy with the way in which their request has been handled, the Internal Review will be carried out by the Information Governance Team.
A request for an internal review should be submitted within 40 days of receipt of the response by the requestor. The requestor should specify why they do not agree with the initial response and what factors they would like to be taken into account as part of the review.
The request for review will be dealt with within 20 working days of receipt by the Information Governance Team. If the review will take longer to conduct, the requestor will be informed why and when to expect a response.
If the requestor remains dissatisfied with the handling of their request or complaint, they have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioners Office.
Any person reading this Policy requiring further information or assistance is invited to contact the Data Protection Officer or the Information Governance Team – IGTeam@reading.gov.uk.
|12||Exceeding 18 hours to collate the information requested|
|21||Information already reasonably accessible|
|22||Information intended for future publications|
|30 & 31||Information relating to investigations and prejudice to law enforcement|
|35 & 36||Information relating to government policy and prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs|
|38||Endangering health and safety|
|40(1)||Personal information of the requestor|
|40(2)||Personal information of third parties|
|43||Trade secrets and prejudice to commercial interests|