The purpose of the Act is to promote greater openness by public bodies (i.e. local authorities, schools, police…). The Act 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; and
members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.
The 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.
You can apply for access to any information recorded in any form held by any of the wide range of bodies covered by the Act. You have the right to seek access to actual documents and records held by the authority.
Anyone is entitled to make a request for information, and no one need state his or her reasons for applying.
A great deal of the information that Southampton City Council holds is personal and private to individuals. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not deal with this. The relevant legislation is the Data Protection Act 1998. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 will not be making public, private and confidential information about people’s personal Council Tax, Benefits, tenancy, or any other arrangements with the Council. The individual concerned, however, does have access to that information under the Data Protection Act. In other words, therefore, your private affairs and business with the Council as an individual is not the subject of this Publication Scheme.
The first place to start is Southampton City Council’s Published FOI Responses which can be found on the link on the left hand side of this page. This is where the Council publishes the responses it makes to all requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (unless there is a reason to withhold information).
You can also access information through the Publication Scheme. The Publication Scheme is a list of the information that Southampton City Council makes readily available to the public as a matter of routine. As well as describing the types of information the City Council will make available, the scheme also indicates whether a charge is made for any types of information and also the form in which information is published (for instance on a website or as leaflets). Please see the link to the left for more information.
Make an Information Request.
Requests must be made in writing by letter, email, fax, or by completing our requests form to be found online.
When making a request for the information ensure that you;
State your name
State the address you would like any correspondence sent to
State clearly what information is required
Ensure that you are very clear and specific otherwise you may be asked to clarify which will result in a delay in receiving the information.
State how you would prefer to receive this information
Link to FORM
Any requests should be sent through to:
Information Compliance Officer
Corporate Legal Team
Southampton City Council
Telephone: (023) 8083 2676
Fax: (023) 8083 2308
If we have a reasonable need for further information from you in order to identify and locate the information requested, we will tell you what information is required. We are not obliged to supply the information to you unless you give the further information we have requested. Under the Act, Southampton City Council has a duty to provide advice and assistance, where reasonable, to applicants in framing their requests.
The Data Protection Act 1998 will remain the key legislation for the regulation of personal information held by Southampton City Council and other bodies.
Personal information relating to the applicant is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. If you wish to obtain your personal information held by the Council then you should request for this under the Data Protection Act 1998. For more information on how to do this please check our data protection pages.
As a general rule the information itself will not cost you anything. However, if gathering the information costs Southampton City Council more than £450.00, then you will be charged.
You will also be charged for any necessary copying and postage charges. Where a fee is charged, you will be advised and it will be necessary to pay in advance. If the fee is not paid within three months of the original request, the request will be considered lapsed.
Details of our charging policy can be found here.
You will not receive the information.
Generally, Southampton City Council will send the information to you by letter at the address you have provided. However, you can request that the information be provided to you in other formats, including email. You can also request to come into the Council offices and inspect the documents. However, if the information is readily available in another form e.g. Web, we are no longer obliged to provide you with a further copy.
Southampton City Council must respond within 20 working days of the date of request (four weeks).
There are a number of exemptions contained in the Act that may unfortunately apply to a request. An example of this would be that the information requested contains personal information of another (this would breach Data Protection Act principles). However, if this is the case you will be told the reason why the information is withheld, including details of the exemption applied. Under the Act, we are obliged to specify which exemption is being relied upon, and, if it is not obvious, explain why the exemption applies to the information in question.
If you are told that the information will not be supplied then you will be given a reason why and how this decision can be reconsidered/reviewed.
If, following the review you are still not satisfied then you can raise your concerns to the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner's Office
General Telephone: 01625 545 700
Further information can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Website
The Freedom of Information Act 2000
The above link will take you straight to the Act.
Information Compliance Officer -Southampton City Council
If you have any further queries that have not been answered by the above, contact our Information Compliance Officer.
The Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner deals with most enforcement issue arising out of all aspects on information management. The above link will take you to its website. This will provide information on how you can exercise your rights under information legislation.
Campaign for Freedom of Information
The Campaign for Freedom of Information campaigns against unnecessary official secrecy. It monitors existing access rights and provides practical guides to help people use them.