Freedom of Information

Introduction

The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to give people the right to request information from organisations that receive public funds, such as local authorities, police forces, health services, schools and universities. The legislation is intended to promote better public understanding of how these organisations carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do, and how they spend tax-payers' money.

Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology is committed to promoting a culture of openness and accountability and has a duty to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under this new legislation and to explain how you can exercise those rights and fulfil your responsibilities.

Under the Act, the College has two obligations:

  • to produce and maintain a publication scheme
  • to respond to requests from the public for information

Publication Scheme
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 public authorities must produce a Publication Scheme describing:

  • the information they will publish
  • the format in which the information will be published
  • whether or not the information is available free of charge

The College has adopted the ‘model’ publication scheme developed for the further education sector and is therefore committed to publishing the information it describes.

This Publication Scheme is not an exhaustive list of information held by the College. It does, however, describe the types of information which are routinely available and facilitates access to that information. College documents, including the Scheme itself, are available in Braille, on audiotape and in some other languages upon request. Please clearly specify the format required when requesting information.

Information not classified in the Publications Scheme may be requested from the Freedom of Information Officer (see contact details) by any member of the public from 1 January 2005. A response must be provided within 20 working days to confirm that the information is available, to provide the information, or to explain why the information cannot be supplied.

The specific documents and publications mentioned in this Publication Scheme are available free of charge unless otherwise stated. Some documents can be accessed freely via this Web site, although paper copies can also be requested. Others can only be requested on paper.

In either case, a paper copy will be free unless the request is for more than one copy, in which case there will be a charge of 50 pence per page. If you request more than one copy of the same paper document you will be notified of the total charge before the additional copies are made and sent out to you.

To request information available through our publication scheme, please contact:

The FOI Officer
Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology

or by completing the request form on our website and sending it by post or fax to the address specified.

Please note that a publication scheme relates to 'published' information. Therefore, material covered has already been prepared in a format ready for distribution.

How to request information
A request for information may be made in writing, including email or fax, to:

The FOI Officer
Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology

or by completing the request form on our website and sending it by post or fax to the address specified.

Is there a limit to the amount of information that can be released?
The College may refuse to supply multiple copies or to respond to vexatious or repeated requests

Must all information be released on request?
There are a few exemptions from the Act. Absolute exemptions include information covered by the Data Protection Act. Most exemptions are subject to a public interest test.

What is a public interest test?
A public interest test weighs up the benefits and disadvantages to the public of releasing certain information.

Where is there further information about Freedom of Information?
Sites which contain information about the Freedom of Information Act include:

  • the Department of Constitutional Affairs
  • the Information Commissioner.

What about information not covered by the publication scheme?
You have the right, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, to request any information held by a public authority which it has not already made available through its publication scheme.

Requests will have to be made in writing and, in general, public authorities will have 20 working days to respond. They may charge a fee, which will have to be calculated according to Fees Regulations. They will not be required to release information to which an exemption in the Act legitimately applies. However, public authorities may be required to explain to the applicant why they are not releasing information and they may also have to justify this to the Information Commissioner.

Feedback
It is important that this publication scheme meets your needs. If you find the scheme difficult to understand, please let us know. We also welcome suggestions as to how our scheme might be improved. Any questions, comments or complaints about this scheme should be sent in writing to:

The FOI Officer
Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology

If we are unable to resolve any complaint, you can complain to the Information Commissioner, the independent body who oversees the Freedom of Information Act:

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Further information
More information about the Freedom of Information Act is available on the Information Commissioner's website at: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Please note that Scotland has its own Freedom of Information Act and Information Commissioner. For more information, please see the Scottish Executive's website at: www.scotland.gov.uk/government/foi

Freedom of Information – Model Letter
You can use this model letter to help you request information under the FOI Act. You don’t have to use these precise words - adapt the letter to suit your own circumstances. If your request is for personal information about yourself don’t use this letter.

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