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The UK Freedom of Information Act – A Practical Guide for Academic Researchers<br />Cambridge<br />Wednesday, 16 February ...
Dr M. D. Kandiah<br />Director  of  the  Witness Seminar Programme<br />Centre  for  Contemporary  British  History<br />a...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />Came fully into force on 1 January 2005<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />Came fully into force on 1 January 2005<br ...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />Came fully into force on 1 January 2005<br ...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of In...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of In...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of In...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of In...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local auth...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local auth...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local auth...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local auth...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local auth...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local auth...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br /> Required public bodies:<br /> To produce a 'publication scheme', which includes:<br ...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exceptions:<br />Absolute Exemptions<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exceptions:<br />Absolute Exemptions<br />Qualified Exemptions – determined by the 'P...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Absolute Exemptions<br />Information accessible by other means<br />Information suppl...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exemptions subject to 'public interest test' – 1:<br />Information intended for futur...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exemptions subject to 'public interest test' – 2:<br />Formulation of government poli...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Other significant points<br />FoI was part of Labour's 1997 Election Manifesto<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Other significant points<br />FoI was part of Labour's 1997 Election Manifesto<br />F...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Other significant points<br />FoI was part of Labour's 1997 Election Manifesto<br />F...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request:<br />Can be made by any individual, anywhere in the world<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request:<br />Can be made by any individual, anywhere in the world<br />Does n...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Public authorities can:<br />Refuse to fulfil requests if deemed 'vexatious'<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Public authorities can:<br />Refuse to fulfil requests if deemed 'vexatious'<br />Ref...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Public authorities can:<br />Refuse to fulfil requests if deemed 'vexatious'<br />Ref...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Individuals can make an appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, which overse...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />To obtain information not available fro...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />To obtain information not available fro...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />To obtain information not available fro...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />The National Archive's records<br />Check website for how to make an FoI request<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Nearly all public authorities have webpages that give instructions to whom an FoI req...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request MUST:<br />Be made in writing – includes email<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request MUST:<br />Be made in writing – includes email<br />Be as specific as ...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request MUST:<br />Be made in writing – includes email<br />Be as specific as ...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 1:<br />Clearly identify the parameters of your re...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 1:<br />Clearly identify the parameters of your re...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 1:<br />Clearly identify the parameters of your re...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />Checkability<br />
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />Checkability<br />Place of the records obtained in broader ...
Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />Checkability<br />Place of the records obtained in broader ...
Dr M. D. KandiahMichael.Kandiah@kcl.ac.uk<br />Director, Witness Seminar  Programme<br />Centre  for  Contemporary  Britis...
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'The UK Freedom of Information Act – A Practical Guide for Academic Researchers' (Dr. Michael Kandiah)

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'The UK Freedom of Information Act – A Practical Guide for Academic Researchers' (Dr. Michael Kandiah)

  1. 1. The UK Freedom of Information Act – A Practical Guide for Academic Researchers<br />Cambridge<br />Wednesday, 16 February 2011<br />
  2. 2. Dr M. D. Kandiah<br />Director of the Witness Seminar Programme<br />Centre for Contemporary British History<br />at King's College London<br />Institute for Contemporary History<br />Michael.Kandiah@kcl.ac.uk<br />
  3. 3. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />
  4. 4. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />Came fully into force on 1 January 2005<br />
  5. 5. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />Came fully into force on 1 January 2005<br />Required that public bodies provide information when queried by members of the public, with certain types of information exempt<br />
  6. 6. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Established a public 'Right to Know'<br />Came fully into force on 1 January 2005<br />Required that public bodies provide information when queried by members of the public, with certain types of information exempt<br />Public bodies had to respond within 20 working days, although this deadline could be extended within certain limits<br />
  7. 7. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2005<br />
  8. 8. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2005<br />Environmental Information Regulation 2004<br />
  9. 9. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2005<br />Environmental Information Regulation 2004<br />Environmental Information Regulation (Scotland) 2005<br />
  10. 10. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Related legislation (which also came into force on 1 January 2005)<br />Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2005<br />Environmental Information Regulation 2004<br />Environmental Information Regulation (Scotland) 2005<br />Amendments to the Data Protection Act 1998<br />
  11. 11. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local authorities<br />
  12. 12. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local authorities<br />NHS bodies (including GPs, etc.)<br />
  13. 13. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local authorities<br />NHS bodies (including GPs, etc.)<br />Schools, colleges & universities<br />
  14. 14. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local authorities<br />NHS bodies (including GPs, etc.)<br />Schools, colleges & universities<br />Police & the Armed Forces<br />
  15. 15. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local authorities<br />NHS bodies (including GPs, etc.)<br />Schools, colleges & universities<br />Police & the Armed Forces<br />Quangos, regulatory and advisory bodies<br />
  16. 16. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Which bodies are covered:<br />Central government departments & agencies & local authorities<br />NHS bodies (including GPs, etc.)<br />Schools, colleges & universities<br />Police & the Armed Forces<br />Quangos, regulatory and advisory bodies<br />Parliament & Welsh Assembly (Scottish Parliament)<br />
  17. 17. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br /> Required public bodies:<br /> To produce a 'publication scheme', which includes:<br />all information held anywhere within an institution; and<br />does not have to be in the form of a specific document or structure, e.g. a database<br /> To deal with individual requests for non-personal information that public authorities hold, subject to specific exemptions in the Act <br />
  18. 18. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exceptions:<br />Absolute Exemptions<br />
  19. 19. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exceptions:<br />Absolute Exemptions<br />Qualified Exemptions – determined by the 'Public Interest Test'<br />
  20. 20. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Absolute Exemptions<br />Information accessible by other means<br />Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters<br />Court records, and so on<br />Parliamentary privilege<br />Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs<br />Personal information<br />Information provided in confidence<br />Prohibitions on disclosure where a disclosure is prohibited by an enactment or would constitute contempt of court <br />
  21. 21. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exemptions subject to 'public interest test' – 1:<br />Information intended for future publication<br />National security (other than information supplied by or relating to named security organisations, where the duty to consider disclosure in the public interest does not arise)<br />Defence<br />International relations<br />Relations within the United Kingdom<br />The economy<br />Investigations conducted by public authorities<br />Law enforcement<br />Audit functions<br />
  22. 22. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Exemptions subject to 'public interest test' – 2:<br />Formulation of government policy<br />Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs (except information held by the House of Commons or the House of Lords)<br />Communications with Her Majesty, etc. and honours<br />Health and safety<br />Environmental information<br />Personal information<br />Legal professional privilege<br />Commercial interests<br />
  23. 23. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Other significant points<br />FoI was part of Labour's 1997 Election Manifesto<br />
  24. 24. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Other significant points<br />FoI was part of Labour's 1997 Election Manifesto<br />FoI was NOT designed to facilitate academic research<br />
  25. 25. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Other significant points<br />FoI was part of Labour's 1997 Election Manifesto<br />FoI was NOT designed to facilitate academic research<br />FoI was 'resource neutral' – i.e., public authorities were not provided extra resources<br />
  26. 26. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request:<br />Can be made by any individual, anywhere in the world<br />
  27. 27. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request:<br />Can be made by any individual, anywhere in the world<br />Does not have to explain why the request for information has been made<br />
  28. 28. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Public authorities can:<br />Refuse to fulfil requests if deemed 'vexatious'<br />
  29. 29. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Public authorities can:<br />Refuse to fulfil requests if deemed 'vexatious'<br />Refuse to fulfil requests on account of expense<br />
  30. 30. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Public authorities can:<br />Refuse to fulfil requests if deemed 'vexatious'<br />Refuse to fulfil requests on account of expense<br />Impose a fee<br />
  31. 31. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Individuals can make an appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, which overseas FoI<br />The Information Commissioner is an independent official who is appointed by the Crown<br />According to the Information Commissioner's Office academics are the least likely to complain about the FoI process<br />
  32. 32. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />
  33. 33. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />To obtain information not available from open sources<br />
  34. 34. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />To obtain information not available from open sources<br />To obtain official government material in advance of the 30 Year Rule (soon to be the 20 Year Rule), which guides the orderly release of documents<br />
  35. 35. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Why should academic researchers use FoI?<br />To obtain information not available from open sources<br />To obtain official government material in advance of the 30 Year Rule (soon to be the 20 Year Rule), which guides the orderly release of documents<br />To obtain material from sources not previously covered<br />
  36. 36. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose of the study<br />
  37. 37. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose of the study<br />Email using a university email account<br />
  38. 38. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />The National Archive's records<br />Check website for how to make an FoI request<br />
  39. 39. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Nearly all public authorities have webpages that give instructions to whom an FoI request should be directed<br />If this information is not obviously available, make request to individual most likely dealing with FoI<br />
  40. 40. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request MUST:<br />Be made in writing – includes email<br />
  41. 41. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request MUST:<br />Be made in writing – includes email<br />Be as specific as possible<br />Requests may be refused if too broad<br />Describe what kind of information wanted:<br />E.g., minutes, correspondences, etc.<br />
  42. 42. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />An FoI request MUST:<br />Be made in writing – includes email<br />Be as specific as possible<br />Requests may be refused if too broad<br />Describe what kind of information wanted:<br />E.g., minutes, correspondences, etc.<br />An FoI request CAN<br />Ask for help in framing the request<br />
  43. 43. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose of the study<br />
  44. 44. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />It recommended that an FoI request from an academic should:<br />Indicate the purpose of the study<br />Indicate the broad outlines of study<br />
  45. 45. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 1:<br />Clearly identify the parameters of your research<br />
  46. 46. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 1:<br />Clearly identify the parameters of your research<br />Have a plan how to space out FoI requests<br />
  47. 47. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 1:<br />Clearly identify the parameters of your research<br />Have a plan how to space out FoI requests<br />Have a plan to develop further FoI requests once you have received your first batch of released material<br />
  48. 48. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with request<br />
  49. 49. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with request<br />Expect delays – make request as soon as possible<br />
  50. 50. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with request<br />Expect delays – make request as soon as possible<br />Ask for file structure or list of files available to get a sense of what is available<br />
  51. 51. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Strategies for academic requests – 2:<br />Form relationship with person dealing with request<br />Expect delays – make request as soon as possible<br />Ask for file structure or list of files available to get a sense of what is available<br />Use oral interviews to refine FoI requests<br />
  52. 52. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />
  53. 53. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />Checkability<br />
  54. 54. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />Checkability<br />Place of the records obtained in broader archival context<br />
  55. 55. Freedom of Information Act 2000<br />Issues<br />Citation<br />Checkability<br />Place of the records obtained in broader archival context<br />Longterm preservation of records & integrity of records<br />
  56. 56. Dr M. D. KandiahMichael.Kandiah@kcl.ac.uk<br />Director, Witness Seminar Programme<br />Centre for Contemporary British History at King's College London<br />Institute for Contemporary History<br />

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