Freedom of Information
Dated: 15 Feb 2014
NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED
POLICY TITLE: Freedom of Information
OWNING DIRECTORATE: Major Crime & Intelligence
CONTACT DETAILS: Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor Ext: 49441
EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT: Complete
AIM OF POLICY: To ensure that Northumbria Police meets and implements the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
BENEFIT OF POLICY: It ensures that the public and wider community benefits from a policy of openness and transparency.
REASON FOR POLICY: To ensure staff awareness of the organisational and personal obligations placed upon them by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 legislation.
DESCRIPTION OF POLICY:
Northumbria Police will maintain a publication scheme which provides specific types of information that will be made readily available and highlights how and when material will be published. The Northumbria Police website contains the Force Publication Scheme at www.northumbria.police.uk Information will be pro-actively published via the Publication Scheme in accordance with the statutory requirements of the FOIA. Publication of information via the Force Internet or information that is already in the public domain is exempt from further reproduction or publication.
A member of the public has a general right of access to information held by Northumbria Police. Any person, world wide, can make a request for information provided the request is in writing, states a name for the applicant and an address for correspondence, and describes the information requested. The general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities includes visual, audio and hard copy documents as well as information stored on computers. Northumbria Police has 20 working days in which to provide a full response to any request.
The legal basis for this policy is contained within the Freedom of Information Act 2000, part 1 (s)1 which states:
(1) Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled –
(a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to them.
The Act placed five distinct demands on all public authorities, namely:
- Proactive publication of information
Policy for the retention and disposal of information
A thorough search and complete retrieval of relevant material
A prompt response providing disclosure in accordance with the Act and that
Destruction does not take place in response to a request
Section 77 of the FOIA makes it a criminal offence to alter, deface, block, erase, destroy or conceal any record with the intention of preventing FOIA disclosure. The offence applies to any employee or officer of a public authority or to anyone subject to the direction of a public authority.
All allegations of breach will be investigated, and appropriate cases will become subject to a formal investigation in line with the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2004, Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 or Police Staff Misconduct and Unsatisfactory Performance Policy and Procedures in force, which may lead to criminal investigation or disciplinary action. Investigation processes and sanctions will be determined on a case by case basis and in accordance with the severity of the matter. The Information Commissioner is obliged to investigate complaints that a breach has occurred.
SOURCE DOCUMENT: Freedom of Information Act 2000 / ACPO Data Protection Manual of Guidance
GROUPS AFFECTED: All officers and staff
ACCESS AND DISCLOSURE RESTRICTIONS: None
This instruction is designed to avoid discrimination and in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and its underlying principles.