28 September 2023 - this guide was published
This 90 second guide will help staff who have limited experience of freedom of information to understand what they need to do.
- Be aware that people have the right to ask for information held by your public authority, if you are based in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or a UK-wide public authority based in Scotland.
- Proactively publish information about your organisation’s activities and routinely review it to ensure it’s up-to-date.
- Know what information you hold, where you hold it, and how you hold it.
- Publish the contact details for where people should send their requests or make enquiries.
- Check that requests include the name and contact details of the requester.
- Respond to verbal requests for information on the environment. Send the requester a written record of their request anytime you accept a verbal request.
- Respond to requests made through any social networking sites your organisation uses, as long as they include the requester’s name and contact details.
- Provide advice and assistance to requesters if they don’t know how to make a request or are not sure what they’re asking for. Speak to them if it will help understand their information needs.
- Translate the information you disclose, if required. Be aware of your organisation’s obligations under other legislation, such as the Equalities Act 2010.
- Respond informally, as you would a business-as-usual activity, if you’re able to provide the requested information before the statutory deadline.
- Let the requester know if the information they requested is available to them elsewhere (eg because you have published it).
- If you decide to refuse a request, explain your reasons under FOI law in writing, and let the requester know they have the right to appeal (use our response templates to help you).
- Log requests so you can track progress and show how you are complying.
- Set internal deadlines to ensure you can respond within 20 working days.
- Conduct a thorough search for the requested information before you respond.
- Don’t alter, conceal, delete or dispose of information to prevent you disclosing it. This is a criminal offence.
- If you need support, speak to colleagues in your FOI team, if you have one. Alternatively, get in touch with our Business Advice Services.
- Read our detailed guidance, if you need additional support: