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

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

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