Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation states that any request for information that falls under an absolute exemption won't be released.
Examples of absolute exemptions are:
information that may endanger national security or is, or relates to, information received from intelligence organisations
States Assembly Privileges
information already available and accessible elsewhere (we'll let you know where to find it)
- confidential information
- other prohibitions or restrictions (where the legislation includes a non-disclosure provision)
If you're not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Office of the Information Commissioner for a decision.
This means the public release of information.
This refers to retrieving information or data from its source. Information can be extracted from all types of information sources, including:
electronic data files
An example of extraction would be pulling specific information from an electronic database (using a query, filtering, sorting or specifying search fields) to find specific information.
Extraction can sometimes include re-formatting data, to make the information being extracted accessible to the person making the FOI request. However, if the information requested is contained amongst other data in a document, and there is no issue with releasing the rest of that document, the information requested would not have to be extracted.
This refers to information that we have which is either held by us or by another person on our behalf and which falls under FOI legislation.
Information considered 'held' for the purposes of FOI will include:
information held in contracted storage
information kept in local archives and record offices
if we (eg the taxpayer) have funded the creation or storage of the information
if we own the information or the environment (physical or digital) in which it is stored or accessed
if the subject matter of the information is about any aspect of publicly-funded work
business-related information held on a personal device not owned by us eg a personal iPad or smartphone.
Information is not held for the purposes of FOI law if it is solely held by a public authority on behalf of another person. Information may not be considered 'held' if:
we have no access to, use for or interest in the information
access to the information is controlled by someone else outside of the public authority
we only provide storage facilities (physical or electronic)
we had no role in creating, recording, filing or removing the information
Information reasonably accessible by other means
This is information that is already in the public domain eg the information is published and easily accessible by the public.
If you're dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you may ask for an internal review from the department concerned.
Metadata is the information that describes the data. This includes:
the author or creator of the data
time, creation and version of the data
where the data was created (including network it was created on)
properties of a file eg resolution of an image, file size of a document, web page tags or standards applied to the data
Neither confirm nor deny (NCND)
You may receive a response to your FOI request that states that we can "neither confirm nor deny" that we have the information.
This will be used when the information could reveal sensitive or potentially damaging information that would be exempt under FOI legislation. The law allows us to then issue an NCND response.
OIC (Office of the Information Commissioner)
The Office of the Information Commissioner regulates the Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation.
The Office of the Information Commissioner website
Information relating to you as an individual.
Public Interest Test
In cases where qualified exemption may apply, this is a test to help decide if the release of information is in the interest of the public. The information may be withheld only if we consider that the public interest in withholding the information is greater than the public interest in releasing it.
The public interest test favours releasing information even where a qualified exemption applies, even if releasing the information may cause embarrassment or might cause a loss of public trust.
Purpose (or motive) blind
We can't question why you are asking for information, unless we suspect that a request is deliberately causing disruption or wasting resources ('vexatious').
We can't refuse to provide the information someone requests based on an assumption as to why someone wants that information.
These are exemptions to which a public interest test is applied (see Public interest test). Qualified exemptions relate to information in the following categories:
information that may endanger the health and safety of individuals
legal professional privilege (protects confidential information between lawyers and their clients)
policy formulation and development
information intended for future publication (as long as the decision to publish is made before the FOI request is received)
advice from the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or a Law Officer
royal family communications and honours-related information
Redaction means removing confidential or legally-exempt data and metadata from any FOI response before it is issued to the requester.
This may be necessary to ensure that someone's personal data is protected or if some exempt information needs to be removed within a document that will be used to answer an FOI request.
Request for information
A request for information must describe in adequate detail the information you want. If a request is too broad or general in nature then we have a duty to supply advice and guidance to you in order to focus the request.
Subject Access Request
Under Data Protection legislation, you have the right of subject access so that you can make a request for information to any organisation that processes your personal data (you being the 'subject' of the information).
You have the right to get a copy of the information that is held about you by making a subject access request. There is a £10 fee for this.
Find more information about making a subject access request on the Office of the Information Commissioner's website.
The Office of the Information Commissioner website
These are requests that are meant to purposely cause annoyance, disruption or the wasting of public resources. We can refuse to handle vexatious requests.
Under FOI, we must respond to information requests within 20 working days, from the day after we receive your request. Working days do not include public holidays or weekends.
There are exceptional circumstances when the 20 working day response time can extend. For example, a school may take longer to respond if the information is requested outside of term time.