Freedom of Information (FOI) gives the public the right to access official information regarding the activities of public authorities. You can use it to obtain printed documents, computer files, letters, drafts, memos, emails, notes, photographs, telephone recordings and CCTV footage. You cannot use it to access the personal records of others, yourself or local authority employees. Nor can you use it to obtain information which hasn’t been ‘recorded’ by a public authority.
FOI requests are free and can be made via any method of written communication including social networking. An example of a valid Freedom of Information request is:
Dear Derby Police
This is an FOI request. How many police officers were arrested for drunk driving in 2018?
The authority then has 20 working days in which to fulfil your request.
You don’t have to give your real name or provide an address, although the authority can ask you to provide proof of your name if they suspect the one you have supplied is false.
Although the Whatdotheyknow website exists for making public FOI requests I would recommend you don’t use it for a number of reasons.
- Public authorities always delay FOI requests made from the Whatdotheyknow website and will often ignore them altogether.
- Whatdotheyknow redact any email addresses or contact numbers that form part of the submitted information. This means making yet another additional request to the webmasters of Whatdotheyknow to have the information unredacted! They will sometimes refuse, making your request meaningless.
- By publicizing your requests you will give public authorities the opportunity to look at your request history, and they could reject you as vexatious.
- Whatdotheyknow do not publish the email addresses of any of the local authorities they allow you to contact, which means you can only follow up on, or appeal against requests, through their website
- Malicious requestors often use Whatdotheyknow as a means to obtain personal details of others, in the hope the local authority will accidentally submit personal information. This happens quite often which means Whatdotheyknow is often used as a platform to harass and dox others.
To get the fastest, fullest and most secure response to your FOI request always use your own personal email address.
If you do not get a response to your FOI request then you can complain to the ICO here.
Avon & Somerset Constabulary:
British Transport Police:
City of London Police:
Devon & Cornwall Police:
Dyfed Powys Police:
Greater Manchester Police:
North Wales Police:
North Yorkshire Police:
South Wales Police:
South Yorkshire Police:
Thames Valley Police:
West Mercia Police:
West Midlands Police:
West Yorkshire Police:
If you find any of these email addresses are wrong and you have obtained the correct email address then please let me know here.