Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) gives people a general right of access to information held by public authorities.

The act was introduced to help bring about a culture of openness within the public sector. Information held by public authorities should be available and accessible to everyone.

This should give the public a better understanding of how public authorities carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money. It gives the public access to most structured information held by the council. This means reports, documents, emails, maps and audio visual recordings, unless the council is entitled to apply for a legal exemption.

The Information Commissioner is the independent authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the act.

Public authorities have two main duties under the act:

  • Each public authority must adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out:
    - details of information it will routinely make available;
    - how the information can be obtained;
    - whether there is any charge for it.

    See our publication scheme for more information on this.
  • Since 1 January 2005, every public authority must comply with requests for the information that it holds unless there is an exemption from disclosure. Public authorities normally have a maximum of 20 working days to respond to the request; however there are circumstances when this time limit can be extended.

How do I make a FOI request?

If the information you are seeking is not on any of these then you can search our former disclosure log which provides a list of information that has been provided in response to FOI requests. FOI requests logged after 20 July will be logged in our new disclosure log.

If you cannot find the information you are seeking on the disclosure log then you can make a FOI request by:

  • filling in our online FOI request
  • in writing:

    Complaints and Information team
    Directorate of Law, Probity and Governance
    Mulberry Place
    5 Clove Crescent
    London
    E14 2BG
    Tel: 020 7364 4354

All requests must be in writing and a valid correspondence email or postal address must be provided.

You should give as much detail as possible to help us identify the information you are seeking, though we will be happy to assist you with this. If we need more detail from you to identify the information, we will contact you.

For more information read the FOI FAQs or visit the Information Commissioners Office website.

Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

On 1 January 2005 new Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) came into force, replacing the former regulations which were in place since 1992, giving members of the public the right to access environmental information held by public authorities and those bodies carrying out a public function.

Environmental information covers information on the state of the environment such as:

  • air, water, soil, land, flora and fauna (including human beings), diversity, genetically modified organisms
  • information on emissions and discharges, noise, energy, radiation, waste and other such substances
  • laws, policies, contracts and analyses relating to such environments
  • the state of the human health and safety, contamination of the food chain
  • cultural sites and built structures (as they may be affected by environmental factors)
  • factors affecting the above elements such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, emissions, discharges into the environment.

How do I make an EIR request?

If the information you are seeking is not on our disclosure log you can make EIR request by:

  • filling in our online FOI request
  • verbally or in writing
  • Complaints and Information team
    Directorate of Law, Probity and Governance
    Mulberry Place
    5 Clove Crescent
    London
    E14 2BG
    Tel: 020 7364 4354

You should give as much detail as possible to help us identify the information you are seeking, though we will be happy to assist you with this. If we need more detail from you to identify the information, we will contact you.

How long does it take?

As with FOI, we have 20 working days to respond. However, under the EIR, if the request is complex and large the time period may be extended to a maximum of 40 working days. We will advise you if we are likely to need to extend the time.

Exceptions

As for FOI there are legal reasons why information may not be released to you. These are known as exceptions. If we do not release information to you because an exception applies we will explain why.

Requests under EIR may be refused because:

  • The information is not held
  • The request is manifestly unreasonable
  • The request is too general
  • The request is for unfinished documents/data
  • The request is for internal communications.

More information can be found here