The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) and the associated Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs) came fully into force on 1 January 2005. This bulletin presents statistics on their implementation within the central government monitored bodies for the quarterly period October to December (Q4) 2013 and the 2013 calendar year.
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:
- meet identified user needs;
- are well explained and readily accessible;
- are produced according to sound methods, and
- are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.
Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.
The statistics in this bulletin relate to the handling by central government bodies of information requests received under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). They are collected and published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), with assistance from Freedom of Information officers across central government.
The FOI Act received Royal Assent on 30 November 2000. Under the Act, anybody may request information from a public authority which has functions in England, Wales and/or Northern Ireland. The Act confers two statutory rights on applicants:
- To be told whether or not the public authority holds that information; and if so,
- To have that information communicated to them.
These statutory rights came into force on 1 January 2005. The MoJ is the lead department responsible for the FOI Act. Further information is available.
The (amended) EIRs also came into force on 1 January 2005, to coincide with the FOI Act. They clarify and extend previous rights to environmental information held by public authorities. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead department responsible for the EIRs. Further information is available from their website.
These statistics are derived from monitoring returns submitted to MoJ in February and March 2014. They relate to information requests received during the period 1 October to 31 December 2013 and 2013 as a whole. Thanks are due to FOI officers for their work in preparing these returns. The collection of monitoring data began on the 21st working day after the last day of this period (i.e. on 29th January 2013), since 20 working days is the statutory deadline for public authorities to respond to information requests under both the FOI Act and the EIRs.
Only ‘non-routine’ information requests are counted in these statistics.
These statistics cover a total of 41 central government bodies. At the commencement of the Act in January 2005 there were 43 bodies covered by the monitoring statistics, but the precise number can change from time to time due to ‘Machinery of Government’ changes.