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Freedom of Information (FOI)

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there may be some unavoidable delays in providing a response to a Freedom of Information request. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and updates will be provided as required.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities. It does this in two ways:

  • Public authorities are obliged to publish certain information about their activities (sometimes known as the Publication Scheme); and
  • Members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.

The FOI Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Public authorities include government departments, local authorities such as Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, state schools, police forces, NHS bodies etc. However, the Act does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money.

Recorded information includes printed documents, electronic records held on systems, other electronic data held outside of a computer system, paper files, letters, emails, text or other media messages, photographs and sound or video recordings.

A requester may ask for any information that is held by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. However this does not mean that the Council is obliged to provide the information as, in some cases, there may be a good reason why the Council is unable to make this information public.

FOI requests can be refused if:

  • It would cost too much or take too much staff time to deal with the request.
  • The request is vexatious.
  • The request repeats a previous request from the same person.

In addition, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 contains a number of exemptions that allow information to be withheld.

Please note, the FOI Act does not give people access to their own personal data (information about themselves), requests of this nature are covered by the Data Protection Act 2018. Details regarding how to submit a request for an individual’s personal data can be found on the data protection and access to information webpage.


Making a Freedom of Information request

The Council’s website is regularly reviewed and updated with the answers to commonly asked questions and previous requests for information. You can use the Search facility on any of the Council’s webpages by typing in key words to help you find information. Alternatively, you can view the Council’s Publication Scheme here.

If you have been unable to find the answer to your questions on the website, you can contact the Council with details of your information request. Your request will be considered and a response provided no later than 20 working days after receiving the request.

For your FOI request to be valid you must:

  • Put your request in writing
  • Include a name
  • Include a contact email or postal address

Details of where to send your request can be found in the contact section to the right of this page.

If your request is refused you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by the team. If, after a review, the Council still refuses your request, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review that decision.

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