What is a Freedom of Information Request?
Freedom of Information requests (FOI)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations. Anyone can request information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live.
The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority is committed to open government and the proactive release of the information it holds.
What is the Freedom of Information Act 2000?
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”) grants a right of access to information held by public authorities. It promotes openness and accountability among public sector organisations so that everyone can understand how authorities make decisions, carry out their duties and spend public money. As such, any person who makes a request for information to the Authority is entitled to be informed, subject to any exemptions, whether the Authority holds that information and, if so, to be supplied with that information.
There are some exemptions to this general right of access. These are known as ‘absolute exemptions’ and ‘qualified exemptions’. If a qualified exemption applies, then it is subject to the public interest test. This means the Authority must decide whether in each case it serves the public interests better to withhold or disclose the information requested.
What is a Publication Scheme?
Every public authority subject to the Freedom of Information Act is required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out what information will routinely be made available, how the information can be accessed and whether or not the information is free of charge.
The idea of a publication scheme is to try and make sure as much information as possible is freely available and easy to access so you do not need to make a specific request.
The Authority has adopted the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO’s) model publication scheme. The scheme consists of information already published and held by the Authority or information which is to be published in the future.
All information in our publication scheme is either available for you on our website to download and print off, or is available in traditional document form. Information within the publication scheme will be available either free, or at a charge.
Some information may not be made available when:
- we do not hold the information
- the information is exempt from disclosure
- we cannot easily access the information
How to make a Freedom of Information Request
The Authority includes as much information in the scheme as it can. However, if you cannot find what you are looking for you can make a Freedom of Information (or FOI) request.
The Act gives you the right to ask for information to be presented in a particular way; we will do our best to follow your request to the best of our ability.
Submit a Freedom of Information Request
You can submit a freedom of information request using our online form.
What Happens Next?
The Authority is obliged to disclose the information you request within 20 working days unless a fees notice is applicable or the Authority requires a reasonable extension of time to consider the public interest test.
Where the information is exempt, the Authority will state so and explain its decision.
You have the right to request an internal review of the Authority’s decision and if you are still not satisfied, to complain to the Information Commissioner.
What is Environmental Information Regulations 2004?
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 provide public access to environmental information held by public authorities.
All EIR requests can be found here.
Making a Complaint
f you are dissatisfied with the handling of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to:
Chief Officer – Legal and Governance & Monitoring Officer
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Fees and cost of compliance
Material which is published and accessed on the website can be downloaded free of charge.
The Authority does not make charges for reasonable requests for hard copy information. However, if a charge for information is applicable, this will be in respect of:
- reproducing any document containing the information e.g. printing or photocopying
- postage and other forms of transmitting the information
Where a charge is applicable, you will be sent a fees notice specifying the fee and the requirement to pay within three months of the fees notice being issued. If the Authority does not receive payment within that period, it is no longer obliged to respond to your request.
Under the Act, a public authority does not have to comply with a request for information if the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit set by the Fees Regulations. However, the Authority will inform you if the limit will be exceeded and will try to let you know what can be provided within the limit. Despite not being obliged to provide the information which exceeds the limit, the Authority will still be under a duty to provide advice and assistance.