Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 covers rights of access to information held by public bodies.
The legislation is designed to promote greater transparency and openness throughout the public sector.
The Office of the Information Commissioner is the enforcing body.
Members of the general public can request, and expect to receive, information held by the public body (subject to any exemptions and restrictions imposed by the Act).
The Council is a public body and is therefore subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
If the information you require is not listed in Freedom of Information Publication Scheme and not already accessible by other means then you need to make your request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 guidelines.
You need to put your request in writing to the Council's Information Officer.
What to include:
- Be as specific as possible to make it easier for the Council to find the information.
- Your reply address
- Special requirements (e.g. braille, or languages other than English)
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you do not need to state a reason for your request, nor do you have to refer to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Council has to let you know whether or not the information is held and provide you with the information (subject to fee and exemptions) within 20 working days, (this time can be extended in specific circumstances).
Requests for environmental information do not need to be in writing and are subject to exemptions under the Environment Information Regulations.
Your name and contact details will be made known to officers of the Council so they can process your request and for monitoring the Council's performance in answering requests.
Details may be passed to the Council Leader for performance monitoring
For information included in the Publication Scheme the Council reserves the right to make any charges in relation to any significant amounts of work or copying are involved.
For information requested outside of the Publication Scheme any charges will be calculated in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 fees regulations.
The Council’s Commitment
The Council is committed to the implementing the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and related legislation. This applies to all information the Council holds regardless of how it was created or received. It applies no matter what media the information is stored in and whether the information may be on paper or held electronically.
The Council will offer advice and assistance to anybody who wishes to make a request. Repeated or vexatious requests for information will be refused. The Council will claim exemptions as appropriate whilst maintaining a commitment to openness, scrutiny and the public interest. The Council will put in place an appropriate procedure for measuring the public interest when considering an exemption which requires such a test.
The Council reserves the right to charge for information requests in accordance with statutory guidelines and its procedures.
Relationship with the Data Protection Act
The Council is under a legal duty to protect personal data under the Data Protection Act (1998). The Council will carefully consider its responsibilities under the Data Protection Act before releasing personal data about living individuals, including current and former officers, members, and users of our services.
The Act comes into force in two stages:
The Publication Scheme: From February 2003 Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council was required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out the classes of information that it publishes or intends to publish, the manner in which it is published or intended to be published and whether the information is free or a charge is to be made.
The Right to Know: From January 2005 any person who makes a request to a public body for information has the right to know whether or not the public body holds the information and subject to any exemptions, be supplied with that information. There may be a charge for the provision of the information.
Relationship with Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations
On 1 July 2005 a new directive, the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 SI 2005 No. 1515 (PSI) was introduced to allow people to apply to re-use information we hold.
Re-use means using the information for a purpose other than the purpose for which the document was originally produced.This could include for a commercial purpose.
Can you see all information held by the Council?
No, because certain information is exempted by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, The Data Protection Act 1998, and the Local Government Act 1972 for example:
- An individual’s personal information
- Information about negotiations which affecting commercial interest
- Information which could affect the prevention (or investigation) of any crime or related proceedings
- Information provided in confidence
There are other restrictions on the provision of information relating to health and safety, legal professional privilege, court orders and national security.
In some cases where an exemption applies the Council may apply a Public Interest Test. This involves considering whether the public interest is better served in disclosing or withholding the information.
If you need further information about your rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please contact the Office of the Information Commissioners.