Make a freedom of information request

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives you right of access to all information held by the Council. 

Examples of previous requests include:

  • numbers of parking tickets issued in specific areas
  • maintenance of Council owned buildings
  • decisions about street markings or traffic light settings
  • details of suppliers of school dinners
  • incident logs from the libraries
  • details of overseas visits by Council officials 

Read the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) guide to freedom of information.

Information routinely made available - publication scheme

Before making a request for information please see our publication scheme which provides a guide to the information routinely made available to the public. You can also search this website to see if the information you want is already available.

FOI requests must be in writing

Make an FOI request

Your request must include:

  • the name of the person requesting the information
  • an address for correspondence (a phone number or email address is also useful if we need to clarify your request)
  • a description of the information required

If you have a preference, please also tell us what format you would like to receive the information (eg in paper, by email etc).

Your request does not have to mention the legislation, and you do not have to tell us why you want the information, but the more details you can give, the more effective we can be in providing the information you require.

Make a verbal request

Under the environmental information regulations you can make a request verbally. An officer will transcribe this and then we will confirm your request in writing.

Environmental information pertains to the elements such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements or factors.

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What happens next?

We will acknowledge your request usually within 5 working days. We will then assess the request and estimate the amount of work involved in answering it.

The legislation limits the amount of time that an authority has to spend meeting a request to 18 actual working hours. This is plenty of time to deal with most requests but if a request requires the collection and copying of a very large amount of information that is spread across departments, it may take more than 18 hours to provide the information.

If we are unclear about exactly what you want, or your request is so large that it will take longer than 18 working hours to provide the information, we will contact you to clarify exactly what you need.

We have a maximum of 20 working days from the day after we receive the request to provide the information. If we need to ask for fees and/or any further information needed to clarify the request we will 'stop the clock' until we have received this.

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Can you refuse my request?

There are a number of reasons for refusing to provide information, including:

  • we do not hold the information
  • it will take more than 18 working hours to provide the information (we will contact you and try to narrow your requirements)
  • if an exemption applies (see below)

If any of these apply we will write to you explaining why we cannot provide the information, along with instructions on how to appeal against this decision.

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Exemptions

There is some information that we cannot make publicly available without significantly disrupting the ability of the Council to deliver services, breaching privacy or confidentiality agreements, or endangering public safety. The Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations both have a list of exemptions that can be applied in these circumstances.

There are 23 exemptions and a full list can be supplied on request, or may be found on our website, or on the Information Commissioner' Office. Some of these do not apply to information held by a local authority.

Exempt information that we hold includes:

  • social care records
  • information relating to current contract negotiations
  • disaster response plans as the release of these could endanger public safety
  • current investigation records whose release would affect our ability to enforce the law

Embarrassment to the Council is not an exemption.

Some of the exemptions apply in all circumstances but for others, we have to consider whether it is more in the public interest to release the information than to withhold it.

If we do decide that an exemption applies we will tell you why, and where relevant, the public interest reasons for doing so. You can appeal against this decision and details of how to do this will be included in our response.

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What will it cost me?

Most requests under freedom of information or the environmental information regulations are met at no cost to the requester. For requests that take less than 18 working hours to process, no charge will be made except for postage and photocopying.

Photocopying and postage costs are:

  • 10p per page (black and white) or
  • 50p per page (colour) and
  • actual postage costs

We do not charge if the total cost is less than £10.

However, there are some instances where we will require a contribution to the cost of providing the information.

If a request will take more than 18 working hours to collate the information, we are not obliged to provide the information. In some circumstances we may agree to provide the information but ask the requester to contribute to the cost of meeting the request. In these circumstances, we will charge an hourly rate of £25 after the first 18 working hours.

You will be advised of any charges before the information is collected. Please make all Cheques payable to London Borough of Hackney.

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What happens if I'm not happy?

If you feel that your request has not been handled well, you do not agree that the information will be exempt, or you disagree with the suggested cost of providing the information, you can request an Internal Review of the original decision. Details of how to appeal will be provided with any response to your request.

A chief officer will review your case to ensure that the officers dealing with the original request have done so in line with the requirements of the legislation. If they decide that information should not be exempt then it will be released.

If you are not satisfied with this decision you can complain to the Information Commissioner who is independent of the Council.

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Page updated: 21/03/2016 15:57:14