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Freedom of information and data protection......are there...

(26 Posts)
MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 18:47:02

any limits to the number of requests I can make? Are there time limits or anything?

Many tia

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 19:00:44


kitbit Tue 06-Oct-09 19:02:22

More info needed! From whom are you requested info? What is the nature of it? Time limits for what, for keeping something secret or for how long personal data is held by a company?

More info please!

kitbit Tue 06-Oct-09 19:02:42

requesting even hmm

JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 19:02:50

Are you wanting to request information about yourself under the Data Protection Act (ie a Data Subject Access Request) or other information under the Freedom of information act?

I can probably answer your DPA one if that's what you're after.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 19:13:43


I want to ask the local authority for all the information they hold on my ds. - that one is quite easy I suppose - although I have never done it before so will need help getting the request right.

But also, I want to ask them for some information about outcomes of evaluations and costs of things etc and provision in general, that I know they have been lying to me about. I'm scared of not asking all of the things that I want to and needed to ask again, - or is that okay?

JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 19:33:56

Right I can answer the first one about getting info on your DS. That is a data subject access request (DSAR). It is usual for the insitution to charge a fee. Often £10 for the information. They should provide you with everything on your DS.

They may be arsey about it and insist your DS writes himself though(!) How old is he?

There should be info on their website about how to make a DSAR (they may want a request submitted on a form and some ID shown). If not, you just write a letter with something like "This is a Data Subject Access Request. Please provide me will all of the information held on my son XXX. In order for you to correctly identify him this is his DOB XXX and current address XXX".

That should give you the outcome of evaluations. If you want the costs of things and details of provision available then I would think that would come under the freedom of information stuff because it is public, rather than personal info.

You may find this link helpful.

JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 19:36:18

Freedom of information act including how to make a request.

wonderingwondering Tue 06-Oct-09 19:49:04

Under the FoI Act you can ask for the general policies/costings (i.e. all the stuff that doesn't relate to your DS). If finding the info will cost them more than £450 (at £25 per hour) they can refuse your request. You can make multiple requests but if they are similar and made within a 60 day period the authority can link them together to see if they'll be spending more than £450 looking for the info.

So if you ask for certain info, you can go back again. And if you explain in general terms what you want to find out about, they have a duty to advise and assist you to locate and ask for the right information. So if you say 'I want to know about policies and procedures relating to x in particular the yy strategy for 2008/09', but they don't have a 'strategy' document, they should say they don't hold a strategy document but they hold documents a, b and c that relate to 'x'. If you follow.

Don't be intimidated by it. Make your request, ask for a review if you don't get what you want, and then complain to the Info Commissioner. The Info Com will look into it with very little input from you, unless you want to get involved.

And if your DS is over 10 or 12 years old, he should make the request himself, although I suggest that you counter-sign the letter.

wonderingwondering Tue 06-Oct-09 19:50:29

Sorry, meant your DS should make the DPA request himself, the FoI request for the general info can come from you.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 19:53:07

'They may be arsey about it and insist your DS writes himself though(!) How old is he?'

pmsl He's almost 3 and autistic.

Will I get emails between departments too? Or does this stay hidden on their computers?

Thank you.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 19:56:03

wondering. That's brilliant thank you. So they have to be helpful then? You don't have to get hung up on being tricked out of the information by not getting the wording 'exactly right'?

wonderingwondering Tue 06-Oct-09 20:03:32

Yes. It is actually better to make a quite 'open' request - 'all info relating to x including a, b, and c' - a, b and c being specific documents.

If they have loads of info relating to x they should come back to you to discuss how you can narrow your request to a manageable size.

Internal emails are included - if they relate to your son, they will be caught by your DPA request. If they are general policy/procedure, they will fall under the FoI request.

The authority can refuse to release info by citing exemptions under the Act (relating to, for example, commercially sensitive info, legal advice, names of junior officials). But they have to be able to justify refusing to release it, and that is difficult to do if the info you are after are policies and procedures of general application - i.e. apply to all SEN children in your local area. They may even be in the public domain already, if they are then authority should point you to where you can find them. The you can use FoI to obtain non-public documents.

lal123 Tue 06-Oct-09 20:10:29

just one thing - having been on the other end of a FOI request a few times! Have you asked them for the info without going down the FOI route? I nkow that when folk go down a more informal route they often get the info they want more quickly and more "openly". When its a formal FOI request it has to go through formal routes etc and I often think - why didn't they just ask for this informally?

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 20:23:07

Thank you lall23. I'm afraid that I have requested some of the information, and had a response:

'I'm sorry my first response was not to your satisfaction. I am unable to help you further'.

Which would have been quicker written 'piss off'.

I have also had staff tell me that they are unable to give me information for 'confidential' reasons which I know to be bollocks.

However, I agree with your approach and did begin out that way.

Thank you again wondering

fishie Tue 06-Oct-09 20:27:37

information commissioner's office will help you.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 20:47:32

Thank you. It's a job I've been putting off and really need to get going.


Thanks again.

bigstripeytiger Tue 06-Oct-09 20:47:39

As far as I know a freedom of information request does not have to say that it is a freedom of information request, so any request for information should be treated as a freedom of information request (if the information requested is covered by the act).


JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 20:47:53

Will I get emails between departments too?

With a DSAR yes you should. They must provide you with everything that has your DS named in it. There have been cases of people doing DSARs for their bank and getting all the internal notes written by staff, all emails sent between departments and transcripts of taped conversations... and the contents have not been flattering.

They may try to make your life difficult and ask you to prove that you have authority to act on behalf of your child. And judging by that shocking letter from them I would not be surprised. I would've written back "if you can't help me please can you tell me who can?".

Bloody pen-pushers.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 20:52:22

I suppose I have to name myself too in the request, because I hope they will probably mention me in their emails, rather than my ds.

What proof are they likely to need?

So big, they shouldn't have responded to my letter in that way?

JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 21:00:24

Well if they ask for anything other than his birth certificate and some ID that you are you (like a passport of driving licence) then they are being very unreasonable.

They may surprise you. Often the people that deal with the requests are different to the people who you have been dealing with and they will go out of their way to dig everything up.

Good luck

JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 21:01:37

Oh and they'll want to charge you two fees if two requests. But sounds like it'll be money well spent.

bigstripeytiger Tue 06-Oct-09 21:03:18

Technically, no, if the FOI act applied to the information you requested then it should have been treated as an FOI request.

I dont know what remedy you have for that though.

wonderingwondering Tue 06-Oct-09 21:15:36

Stripeytiger the OP could now ask for a review of their decision not to release the info and then go to the ICO.

But it will probably be better to make a fresh request, citing FoI and being quite clear about the sort of info the OP is after - as ManicMummy says, the public authority probably has a dedicated FoI team who'll push for more info to be released than those who created it.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 06-Oct-09 21:49:26

Thank you everyone. A very helpful thread.

wondering I can have a little fantasy about asking for a review of their decision, but actually, all I'm trying to do is get the information, not waste time and energy 'getting back' at someone for the sake of it. This person will probably have to answer anyway. That will be enough of a 'strike'!

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