Information Commissioner Christopher Graham
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham

The rise in the number of Freedom of Information requests being made to central government continued in 2012, with the number of requests almost hitting 50,000 – the highest level they have been. 

A total of 49,464 requests were made to 43 central government public authorities in the 12 months of 2012 – an increase of 5% compared to 2011. This has increased from 38,108 in 2005 when the act was enforced.

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Eight percent of requests to all of the monitored bodies were replied to late. This is equal to 2,173 requests. While more than 43,000 hit the 20 working day deadline which is imposed by the act.

The Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions have undergone monitoring by the Information Commissioner’s Office, who are responsible for overseeing FOI, for the first three months of 2012. The DWP are still processing 62 requests from 2012 and replied late to 748 requests, the most of any department. While the Department for Education has 31 requests outstanding and responded to 269 FOIs late.

The most helpful body monitored by the MoJ was the Home Office who provided advice and assistance to 609 of the requests they received.

Almost 20,000 requests were given the information they had asked for in full. 

One fifth of initial requests were withheld. Of the 10,679 requests refused:

  • 6,486 requests were refused due to an exemption. 
  • 3,892 were refused as they were over the cost limit of £650. 
  • 161 were deemed to be vexatious  
  • 149 were repeated 

Section 40, where the request would contain personal information,  was the largest reason for requests being refused with 45% (4,889) of all those refused being attributed to S.40.

The department to apply the most exemptions was the Home Office.

There were a total of 2,724 internal reviews conducted by the authorities. Of these the result is known in 2,558 cases. Only 291 of these internal reviews were overturned, with 2,267 being upheld either in full or in part.

The Information Commissioner, who is responsible for the running of FOI and making ultimate decisions dealt with 351 appeals to decisions. The ICO upheld 155 of the 186 appeals where the result is know and only overturned 31 cases.

The full data can be found here.

 

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.