The Freedom of Information Act recognises that there are valid reasons for withholding some information in response to a request.
For a public authority to withhold information, at least one of the exemption categories must apply.
Absolute exemptions are unconditional. For example:
- information that is accessible by other means, for example part 1 Council minutes of meetings, food business registers, register of councillors' interests.
- information that was provided to the Council in confidence, for example a complaint by a neighbour of anti-social behaviour, information received in respect of a possible fraud.
Before we release information, we will look at whether the balance of public interest is weighted in favour of publishing it.
There are 23 qualified exemptions under the Act including:
- commercially sensitive information
- information that would prejudice the health and safety of an individual
- personal information relating to individuals (this is covered by UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018)
- information about the environment (this can be accessed under the Environmental Information Regulations)
- where release of information will be damaging to individuals or businesses
- where the health and safety of individuals or communities may be compromised
- where the release of information may prejudice a future decision.
For the full list of qualified exemptions, please go to the Information Commissioner's Office website.
We will decide whether an exemption applies to all or part of an information request through a panel of trained FOI Officers.
For details about our internal procedures, please contact our FOI Co-ordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org