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Welcome to our new website!

You’ve probably noticed that things have changed a bit. We haven’t finished updating all our pages yet, so some sections are still using this design. Please bear with us...

Freedom of information

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information Requests

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives the public a general right of access to recorded information held by Southwark Council.  Under the FOI Act, the council is obliged to:

  • Publish certain information about its activities
  • Respond to requests for recorded information, within 20 working days

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.  The FOI Act does not cover opinions or recollections unless they are already recorded and the council is not obliged to create new information in order to respond to requests.

The FOI Act does not give people access to their own personal data (information about themselves).  Any requests for personal data will be subject to the Data Protection Act.

Requests for environmental information will be subject to the Environmental Information Regulations.

Making an FOI request

For a request to be valid under the FOI Act it must:

  • be in writing
  • include the applicant’s real name and a postal or email address
  • describe the information requested

You can make a make an FOI request by emailing accessinfo@southwark.gov.uk.

Alternatively you can contact the Information Governance Manager:

Southwark Council
Finance and Governance Department
Information Governance Team
PO Box 64529
London SE1P 5LX

Tel: 020 7525 7511

If you require assistance writing your request, we recommend you consult our customer service staff at a one stop shop location.

Cost limits

As required by the legislation, all requests that require less than 18 hours work or cost less than £450, will be free of charge.  This is the appropriate cost limit as set out in section 12 of the FOI Act.  Southwark Council will not respond to requests that will cost more than £450.  When estimating whether a request will breach the appropriate limit, the council will include the time it would take to determine whether or not we hold the requested information, and the time it would take to locate, extract and retrieve it.

If it is determined that a request exceeds this amount, the council will provide advice and assistance on how to narrow the request in order to avoid breaching the limit. In special circumstances however, and under the guidance of the monitoring officer, requests that exceed £450 in effort may be processed.

Vexatious requests

The council is not obliged to respond to requests deemed to be vexatious, or repeated requests from the same person or group on substantially similar information received within 60 consecutive working days.  If a request falls into either of these categories, a written refusal notice will be issued.

Exemptions

Southwark council conducts its business in an open and honest fashion and recognises that it is important that the public is told how decisions have been made.   All information is therefore available for public disclosure, unless it falls under one of the 23 exemptions contained in the FOI Act.

If information is withheld due to an exemption, the applicant will be informed in writing.  Some exemptions are absolute, meaning that the information is automatically exempt from disclosure.  However, most exemptions are qualified, meaning that the council must consider the public interest arguments before deciding whether to disclose the information.  Under FOI, the presumption is to disclose the information and only if the public interest test clearly demonstrates that it is not in the public's interest will the information not be released.

Appeals

If an applicant is unhappy with the response to their FOI request, they can request that the council conduct an internal review of its decision.  Requests for an internal review should be sent to the Information Governance Manager using the contact details provided above, quoting the relevant reference number and explaining what aspect of the request should be reviewed. 

Requests for an internal review should be sent within two months of receipt of the council’s response.

Applicants who remain dissatisfied can apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.  Generally the Information Commissioner cannot make a decision unless the internal review procedure has been exhausted.

Appeals to the Information Commissioner should be addressed to:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
SK9 5AF

Tel: 030 3123 1113

Email: casework@ico.org.uk

Fees and disbursements

If there are any disbursement charges you will be notified in writing and all payments must be then be received prior to completing your request.  If you do not respond within three months the council will assume that you are no longer interested in receiving the information.

Disbursement charges, for example photocopying, post, alternative formats such CDs, will be levied at full charge if the costs exceed £20.

Copyright

Some of the information contained on the Southwark website is protected by copyright.   Before you re-publish any of the material on our website you will need to seek our permission as the copyright owners.

Please do not make alterations or additions to the material on our website.   The material may also not be sold or otherwise misappropriated.  However, you are free to download or copy the information on our site for personal use only

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Information Governance Manager

Address: Information Governance Team
PO Box 64529
London SE1 5LX

Tel: 020 7525 7511

Email:

 

Contact us

Southwark Council
PO BOX 64529
London SE1P 5LX

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