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Freedom of Information

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The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) was passed with the intention that it will encourage public authorities to shed more light on what they are doing with public money and discourage unnecessary secrecy.

The Government's aim in passing the act is that it:


" ...will transform the default setting from 'this should  be kept quiet unless' to 'this should be published unless'.
By doing so it should raise public confidence in the processes of government."

former Home Secretary, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP


The Act, which came into force on 1 January 2005, places 2 main responsibilities on public authorities such as the City and County of Swansea:

  1. the Authority must produce a Publication Scheme 
  2. the Authority must provide a general right of access to all types of recorded information which it holds 
    (subject to certain exempt categories of information)


Publication Scheme

The Publication Scheme was first produced in February 2003 and a model publication scheme was adopted from the 1st January 2009.  It contains details of how the public may obtain information already in the public domain regarding the work of the Council  and the services it provides.
It is posted on the Authority's web site and will be reviewed regularly.


General Right of Access

From 1 January 2005,  anyone can request 'recorded information' from the Authority (subject to exemptions). Recorded information may be in any format e.g. paper, floppy disk, video and  includes both electronic and paper versions of  records such as email messages, reports, minutes of meetings and floor plans.

There are 23 categories of exempt information contained within the Act, comprising absolute exemptions and qualified exemptions.  Examples of absolute exemptions include  information which is accessible to the applicant by other means, certain personal information, information provided in confidence and records where disclosure is prohibited by law.  If an absolute exemption can be applied then the information need not be disclosed.

Most exemptions will be qualified and  are therefore subject to the public interest test i.e does the public interest in withholding exempt information outweigh the public interest in releasing it. Examples of qualified exemptions include information intended for future publication such as draft reports, law enforcement matters and commercially sensitive material.  The information must be disclosed if it is in the public interest to do so.

The Act is completely retrospective so that all recorded information held by the City and County of Swansea falls within the scope of the Act.

It is a criminal offence both corporate and personal for anyone to alter, deface, block, erase, destroy or conceal any record held by the Authority with the intention of preventing its disclosure once it has been requested by an applicant.


Compliance

On receipt of a written request for recorded information the applicant must be notified whether the Authority holds that information  and if so must be supplied with that information, if possible,  in the manner requested.

The Authority must respond promptly to a request and within 20 working days.

If you wish to make a Freedom of Information Act request then you can do so by completing the online form.

The Information Commissioner deals with breaches of the Act. He is an independent public official and reports directly to Parliament.   The Information Commissioner has powers to issue decision notices, information notices and enforcement notices in order to obtain compliance by the public authority.  

The applicant must first have exhausted the Authority's internal complaints procedure.

For more information, please contact:

Janet Hooper
Legal & Democratic Services
Civic Centre
Oystermouth Road
Swansea
SA1 3SN

Tel: 01792 636148
Fax: 01792 636340

If you wish to make a Freedom of Information Act request then you can do so by completing the online form or e-mailing freedomofinformation@swansea.gov.uk.  Alternatively, a version of this form is available as a download from the right hand side of this page.

Further information on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 can be found at the Information Commissioner's web site.





© 2014 City and County of Swansea
Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea. SA1 3SN. Tel: 01792 636000 Fax: 01792 636340