National Statistics on handling of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act by over 40 central government bodies, including all departments of state.
The annual statistics cover the implementation and operation of the Act 2000 in central government. The publication draws together the quarterly statistics for the year and analyses the longer-term trends.
Figures are derived from manual returns submitted by participating bodies, and cover timeliness of responses, outcomes of requests, and use of the appeal process.
Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Statistics on implementation in central government - Q3 2012
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the associated Environmental Information Regulations 2004 came fully into force on 1 January 2005. This bulletin covers the quarterly period July to September 2012. It presents the latest quarterly set of National Statistics on their implementation within central government. This bulletin presents monitoring statistics for a total of 41 central government bodies, including all major departments of state. The statistics are designed to allow the monitored bodies to compare and monitor their performance in handling Freedom of Information requests, to inform the development of Freedom of Information policy across government, and for politicians, lobby groups, members of the public and others to hold the monitored bodies to account.
Number of requests [see Tables A1 & A2]
In July to September (Q3) 2012 the monitored central government bodies received a total of 11,563 non-routine FOI (Freedom of Information Act) requests, 2 per cent less than in Q3 of 2011. In the first three quarters of 2012 there have been 37,313 requests.
Although there has been considerable quarter-on-quarter variation, there has been a generally increasing trend in the number received by the monitored bodies over the past five years driven by an increase in requests to Departments of State. The peak in Q1 2012 was due to large rises in requests to the Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions, regarding controversial policies being introduced. Requests to the Department of Work and Pensions remain high, but requests to the Department of Health have returned to their Q4 2011 levels.
Timeliness of response to requests [see Tables A3 & A4]
92 per cent of the requests during Q3 2012 received a response within the statutory deadline or were subject to a permitted deadline extension, a slight decrease on the 93 per cent in the last quarter.
Initial outcomes of requests [see Tables A5 & A6]
Of all requests where it was possible to make a substantive decision on whether to release the information being sought received during Q3 2012 53% were granted in full and 28% were withheld in full, the remainder being granted in part or the response has not yet been provided.
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 Freedom of Information 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 Ministry of Justice is the lead department responsible for the Freedom of Information Act.
The (amended) Environmental Information Regulations also came into force on 1 January 2005, to coincide with the Freedom of Information Act.
They clarify and extend previous rights to environmental information held by public authorities. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the lead department responsible for the Environmental Information Regulations. Further information is available from their website.
In addition to Ministry of Justice professional and production staff, pre-release access to the quarterly statistics of up to 24 hours is granted to the following postholders:
Ministry of Justice: Secretary of State, Minister of State, Permanent Secretary, Information Director, Head of Information Policy Division, Head of FOI Policy and Strategy Unit, Head of Data Access and Compliance Unit, special advisers and the relevant press officer.
Other monitored bodies: The statistics are compiled with the assistance of freedom of information officers in each monitored body, although these officials do not have pre-release access to the final quarterly bulletin prior to publication.