Freedom of Information
About Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 makes provision for the disclosure of information by public bodies, including Universities.
The Act is intended to promote transparency and accountability by allowing individuals the right to access information held by public organisations although certain exemptions apply which may prevent specific types of information from being released for a number of specific reasons.
Information is accessible in two ways:
- Some information is publicly available via a Publication Scheme. This is a list of types of information the University routinely makes available.
- Individuals have the right to request information which is not already made available.
The University is committed to its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and has a Freedom of Information Policy.
A separate piece of legislation called the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) provides for the right to access environmental information and operates in a very similar manner to the Freedom of Information Act.
If information you wish to obtain is not available via the Publication Scheme or otherwise published online, you have the right to request access to that information.
Requests for information should be made in writing to the University’s Legal and Governance Office who respond to requests for information and maintain the University’s Publication Scheme. Your request can be made by email. In your request you should specify clearly all the information you require and include your name and address.
Your request can be made by email or by post: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal and Governance Office
D21 Richmond Building
University of Bradford
If you require advice on how to specify your needs, please contact us at: email@example.com or by phone on: 01274 233021 or 01274 233358.
Once we have received your request, all reasonable efforts will be made to locate this information, although it may be necessary to ask you to provide more detail if your original request does not permit an exact identification of the information you have requested.
We do not issue acknowledgements in response to requests as we have found that most people do not require one. If you do, please make this clear in your request.
The University has twenty working days to respond to your request. A working day is any day, Monday - Friday which is not a bank holiday in any part of the UK. This twenty day period begins when we have all the information we need to process your request and will not include any period when we have to ask you for more information.
When would the university not process a request or provide the information requested
There are a number of circumstances where the University will not process a request for information. These are listed below. If we refuse to provide information we will normally issue you with a letter called a refusal notice which explains why we are not providing you with the information you have requested and what you can do about it.
Reasons why we may not provide the information you have requested
- Where a name and address have not been included
An address can include an email address. If we believe that the name and address provided are not real we may ask you to prove that it is. If we do not hear back from you or if we receive notification that the name or address do not exist we will not process your request.
- Where you have not provided an adequate description of the information requested
Normally where this is the case we will ask you for more information but if we do not hear back from you we will not process your request.
- Where the request exceeds the appropriate limit
The Act states that organisations may refuse requests where the cost would exceed an "appropriate limit". As a result the University will usually refuse to process a request where the amount of time taken to determine whether we hold the information, locate it, retrieve it and extract it from records which hold it would be expected to exceed 18 hours. For more information please refer to the University’s Freedom of Information Fees Statement.
- Where a fee is required and not received
On extremely rare occasions the University may charge a fee to process your request. If you do not pay this fee, we will not process the request. For more information please refer to the University’s Freedom of Information Fees Statement.
- Where the request is repeated or vexatious
The Act permits requests to be refused where the same requester makes an identical or substantially similar request to one already made. It also makes provision for organisations to refuse vexatious requests. The Information Commissioner's Office, which oversees Freedom of Information compliance, has issued guidance on this which indicates that the following factors can be indicators of vexatious requests.
- Abusive or aggressive language
- Burden on the authority
- Personal grudges
- Unreasonable persistence
- Unfounded accusations
- Frequent or overlapping requests
- Deliberate intention to cause annoyance
- Scattergun approach
- Disproportionate effort
- No obvious intent to obtain information
- Futile requests
- Frivolous requests
- Where an exemption applies
The Act contains a number of very specific exemptions and these are listed below.
With the exception of those listed in italics each exemption is subject to a public interest test. This means that the University must consider all the factors relating to the request and the information and we can only withhold the information if the public interest in withholding the information is greater than that of releasing it.
Most exemptions do not apply to information held by the University but all exemptions in the Act are listed here:
List of Exemptions
The following classes of information are exempt:
- information already reasonably accessible
- information intended for future publication
- research information
- information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters
- criminal investigations and proceedings conducted by the authority
- information relating to civil or criminal investigations and proceedings which use confidential sources
- court records
- information relating to the formulation of government policy
- communications with Royal Family and Royal Household and the granting of Honours
- environmental information (NB even though this information is exempt under the Freedom of information Act 2000, it is accessible by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and so any request would be progressed under those regulations)
- personal information where the applicant is data subject
- trade secrets
- information prohibited from disclosure under other laws
Information is also exempt if its disclosure would be or would be likely to be prejudice to following:
- national security
- international relations
- relations within the UK
- the economy
- law enforcement
- audit functions
- parliamentary privilege
- effective conductive of public affairs
- health and safety
- the privacy of third parties
- legal professional privilege
- commercial interests
What can I do if you refuse to provide me with information?
If the University refuses to provide you with information you have requested we will normally issue you with a letter called a refusal notice which explains why we are not providing you with the information you have requested.
If you do not agree with our explanation you have the right to seek an Internal Review where the University will consider your request again. This will be processed in accordance with our Freedom of Information Internal Review Procedure.
If you do not agree with the outcome of the Internal Review, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner who will look at all the circumstances in the case and make a decision. You can contact the Information Commissioner's Office by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by post: Customer Contact, Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF