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Leicester City Council were nominated in both the Team of the Year and Practitioner of the Year categories at the eCase FOI awards 2023. The ICO helped to judge the awards. We’re keen to share examples of practice that other public authorities can learn from, so we’re publishing this case study.

ICO comment: what this case study means

Having a streamlined central logging system for information requests can save you time at the very start of the FOI process. This may include having procedures in place for logging requests immediately and seeking clarification quickly. Regular training and raising awareness with staff can ensure they know how to log requests. This embeds the process and a transparency culture so that you can deal with requests efficiently, from the point of receipt through to issuing the response.


Leicester City Council received 907 FOI requests in 2021, and 1007 in 2022. Two full-time information governance officers and 1.5 full time equivalent information governance assistants deal with FOI requests.

Leicester City Council runs a hub and spoke model for managing FOI requests. This consists of a centralised, expert information governance team that logs and monitors FOI requests, alongside the service areas that own the information and can answer the requests. The system needs both parties to understand and comply with the process and aim to meet the timescales required, including the statutory deadline of 20 working days. The system involves:

  • logging and clarifying requests (under the duty to advise and assist), within 24 hours on a central FOI case management system;
  • sending the request to the relevant service area within 24 hours for a response;
  • receiving the response back from the service area within 10 working days; and
  • chasing and escalating to directors, if necessary, any requests not returned within 10 working days.

The staff in information governance have an in-depth knowledge of the council and its services. Therefore, they know who to send the request to without undue delay. They have established relationships with service areas and built up a reputation of being efficient and helpful.

A template request email issued to the service area gives a very clear date for response. The email explains what to do if the team do not hold the information, or if they need further clarification. The email also advises on what to do if they require any help identifying possible exemptions. Service areas know that the FOI team will chase them if their returns are late.

The FOI team copy in directors, so they are fully aware of all FOI requests in their area. The team use systems to monitor and authorise the requests, including any that may be sensitive or generate press coverage. Senior management buy-in is important and they receive performance reports for their service areas.

In addition, there is formal training available to all staff, as well as informal regular awareness raising of recognising requests for information and complying with the FOI processes.

The team runs regular training and awareness sessions for staff, both in person and remotely. They also developed an in-house, online training module.

Staff place regular reminders in the weekly e-newsletter in order to promote FOI awareness within the council.

The council’s head of information governance, Lynn Wyeth, says:

“Embedding the processes into the behaviour of the organisation is key… FOI is the day job too and is everyone’s responsibility in an open and transparent public authority and democracy.”


Having a centrally managed system, with an efficient and speedy initial process, gives service areas much more time to retrieve and collate the information. It also gives the council space to consider exemptions.

The council can answer many requests quickly and easily on the day they arrive. Staff are in the habit of responding to them as soon as they can.

The council has well-trained staff who are authorised to chase for information and senior managers who take their responsibility seriously. This, along with the central system, means Leicester City Council answered 99% requests on time in 2021 and 98% of requests on time in 2022.

The council asks requesters if they would like to complete a satisfaction survey and consistently receive positive feedback. A couple of examples are:

“I wrote to 24 local authorities…the data I received from Leicester City Council was far and away the fullest and best organised of all. Thank you so much.”

“Very straightforward process, and very grateful for the detailed and explicit response.”