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Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. Any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, supplied with that information.

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 received royal assent on 30 November 2000. It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. A ‘public authority’ is defined in the Act, and includes but is not restricted to central and local government, non-departmental public bodies, the police, the health service and schools, colleges and universities. Any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, supplied with that information.

Your rights and our responsibilities from June 2003

Under the FOI Act all local authorities including the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner in Devon and Cornwall must have a publication scheme setting out the information we routinely make publicly available. Our scheme must be approved by the information commissioner and we have to review the scheme from time to time. In adopting (or reviewing) our publication scheme, we are required to have regard to the public interest in:

  • allowing public access to information we hold; and
  • to the publication of reasons for the decisions we make.

Our publication scheme must:

  • set out the classes of information which we publish or intend to publish;
  • say how we will publish the information in each class; and
  • say if we will provide the information free or charge for it.

The purpose of our publication scheme is to let you know what information is readily available from us without your needing to ask us for it. By readily available we mean that the information is available on our website; can be obtained from us if you request it by letter, e-mail or telephone call; can be purchased from us; or can be found in a local library.

Part 2 of our publication scheme sets out the types of information that we publish or intends to publish, how they can be obtained and whether they are free or if we will ask you to pay a charge.  If you have any comments on our Publication Scheme or feel that the scheme could be improved, please contact us.  If you think we have not supplied information in accordance with our scheme, then you are entitled to complain.  Information about how to do so can be found here.  We aim to deal with your complaint within 20 working days. If you are dissatisfied with the response you can ask for the matter to be internally reviewed. We aim to complete an internal review and respond to you within 20 working days. If, after the internal review, you remain dissatisfied then you can complain to the Information Commissioner. You can find our review procedure here.

Your rights and our responsibilities from 1 January 2005
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives you a right of access to recorded information held by public authorities, subject to certain exemptions. The FOI Act applies to the vast majority of public authorities, including the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Devon and Cornwall.  When the FOI Act came into force fully on 1 January 2005, if you ask us for information we will be required to:

  • let you know in writing whether we hold information you have asked for; and
  • if we do, provide the information to you within 20 working days, unless it is subject to an exemption.  We also have a duty to provide advice or assistance to you or anyone seeking information (for example in order to explain what is readily available or to clarify what is wanted).

Full access rights under the Freedom of Information Act came into force on 1 January 2005.

Requests for personal information
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you already have a statutory right to have access to personal data we hold about you on computer or in a structured manual file (i.e. on paper). You also have the right to expect us, as the data controller, to ensure that data is:

  • processed fairly and lawfully;
  • obtained for specific and lawful purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate and where necessary kept up to date;
  • not kept for longer than is necessary;
  • processed in accordance with the rights of the data subject;
  • kept secure;
  • not transferred abroad unless to countries with adequate date protections laws.

For the purposes of the 1998 Act, “personal data” is information that relates to a living identifiable person. The person or organisation who controls the purpose and manner in which data is processed is the “data controller”. More information on the Data Protection Act can be found on the website of the Information Commissioner at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.

Information where the police and crime commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is the data controller

Where the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is the data controller, you are entitled to be told whether we hold data about you, and if we do:

  • to be given a description of the data in question;
  • to be told for what purposes the data is processed;
  • to be told the recipients, or classes of recipients, to whom the data is or may be disclosed

You are also entitled to a copy of the information with any unintelligible terms, acronyms or codes explained. You will also be given any information available to us on the source of the data. The data will be in its latest form.

If you wish to apply for access to your personal data, known as “a subject access request”, you should write to us enclosing a completed subject access request form. A fee of £10 must accompany your request together with proof of your identity. We also need to be supplied with the details needed to locate the information you seek. A request for access to personal data will be dealt with promptly and in any event within 40 days following receipt of the request and payment of the fee.

If you consider that a request by you for access to your personal data has not been dealt with properly, you may:

  • contact us seeking resolution of your complaint
  • write to the information commissioner, who is appointed to consider such complaints at: Office of the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

The information commissioner is empowered to assess whether there has been a failure to comply with the 1998 Act. The commissioner can issue enforcement proceedings if satisfied that there has been a contravention of the data protection principles. The commissioner can also recommend that you apply to court alleging a failure to comply with the subject access provisions of the 1998 Act. The court may make an order requiring compliance with those provisions and may also award compensation for any damages you have suffered as well as any associated distress.

Information where the PCC for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is not the data controller
In many cases, it is the chief constable of police and not the PCC who holds personal information. The Police National Computer includes information on prosecutions, convictions and cautions. Chief officers of police are the data controllers for this information and not the PCC. You have the right to be told by a chief officer whether any information is held about you on the Police National Computer and a right to a copy of that information.

The chief officer will give that information is he is satisfied as to your identity and on payment of a fee of £10. The chief officer may deny access to this information where the information is held for the prevention or detection of crime or for the apprehension or prosecution of offenders and where release of the information would be likely to be prejudicial to any of these purposes.Police forces provide a form to simplify the exercise of your subject access rights to PNC information. In the case of Devon and Cornwall Police you should visit the Police website or contact the Force Data Protection Officer, Devon and Cornwall Police, Middlemoor, Exeter, EX2 7HQ.

Requests under the environmental information regulations
If you wish to make a request for information under the environmental information regulations (EIR) please contact us.

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