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The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to being open, accountable and transparent regarding the services we provide for and to the public. We are continually working to develop a culture of greater openness and we are making more information on policing available than ever before.

The Freedom of Information Act is intended to create better public understanding of:

  • how public authorities carry out their duties
  • why they make their decisions
  • how they spend their money.

Under the Act, public authorities are obliged to make information available through the implementation of two key tools:

  • General Right of Access
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland Publication Scheme

General Right of Access

If the information you seek is not available via our publication scheme or the Police Service of Northern Ireland website you can make an application via Right of Access (more commonly referred to as an FOI request). Find out more about Right of Access including how to make an application below.

This individual right of access to information came into effect on 1 January 2005. Individuals already have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. As far as the Police Service is concerned, the Freedom of Information Act (and the 'Environmental Information Regulations 2004' – EIR) extends this right to allow public access to all types of information held.  

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has a legal obligation to consider all requests for recorded information it receives and must:
•    Inform the applicant whether the information is held.
•    Supply the requested information subject to the application of exemptions contained within the Act.


The law is clear in that anyone who makes a request to a public authority for information must be told whether the information is held and must be supplied with that information unless the cost to provide it would exceed the cost limit set by the Secretary of State (currently £450). In general, a response must be provided within 20 working days.

Information can only be withheld under the FOI Act if certain exemptions are applicable, for example, requests for information about criminal investigations, past or present and about matters of national security. The College of Policing's Authorised Professional Practice for the Freedom of Information Act and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance contains advice on making a request and explains the exemptions that may be applied to information.