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 PSNI 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 ICO guidance contains advice on making a request and explains the exemptions that may be applied to information.
Make A Request For Information Under Right Of Access
If the information you are looking for is not available on the PSNI website or in the Freedom of Information Publication Scheme and you wish to make a request for information under Right of Access you MUST do so in writing either by post or e-mail.
We need to know:
- Your name
- Your address for correspondence
- A full description of the information you require
To send a request by post or e-mail download an application form and return it to us.
If you are dissatisfied with how your request has been dealt, you should forward your complaint to the Corporate Information Manager in writing at the address shown.