Freedom of Information
Make a Request
One of the aims of the Freedom of Information Act is that public authorities should be clear and proactive about the information they will make public. Central to this is the preparation of a publication scheme (a list of classes of information which the Department makes, or intends to make, routinely available). Please check published information for the information you require.
If the information you require is not listed there please make a request .
How to make a request
Your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing. This includes fax and email. Please ensure that you:
- Print your name and address clearly
- State clearly the information you require
- If possible, include a telephone number on which we can contact you, if necessary.
Sometimes we may need to contact you to clarify exactly what information you require. It will help us process your request more quickly if you are specific about want you want and provide a telephone number on which we can contact you if necessary.
Send your request to :
Departmental Information Manager, FOI Unit, DHSSPS, Room A3.5b, Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SQ
Tel: 028 90 522353
How long does it take to get information?
Once a request for information has been received , the Department has 20 working days in which to respond – this time can be extended if
- A qualified exemption applies and we need to consider the public interest
- A fee applies and we are waiting for you to pay the fee
Is there a cost for getting information?
Responses to enquiries that cost the Department less than £600 to process (ie locating, retrieving and extracting the information) will normally be provided free of charge.
The Department has the right to refuse a response to a request that is estimated to cost more than £600 to process.in respect of search and retrieval of the information. However, the Department may choose to process the request if the cost is greater than £600 and if we do, you may be charged the costs in full. In this case, we will send you a fees notice and you can decide whether you want us to proceed.
The Department may impose a charge on any request in relation to disbursements. Disbursements include printing, photocopying and postage charges.
What happens if the information I want is not available?
The FOI Act does not require us to gather information that is not already there. But we are required to assist you with your request. We will contact you and tell you what information we do hold that might help to answer your query or suggest another public authority who may hold the information you are looking for.
What information can I have?
The FOI Act allows you access to almost all information that a public body holds. But there are some things that cannot be given to the public. For example, information about national security, law enforcement or personal information – however you can obtain your own personal information. The Department is not obliged to send you information that is already available elsewhere eg. in published information.
What if I am refused the information I requested?
We will tell you if information is being withheld and why. We will also tell you who you should contact to request an internal review if you are not happy with our decision. If you are still not happy after the internal review you can request a review by the Information Commissioner. Please contact us first if you are not happy with our response and tell us why you believe that we are wrongly withholding information from you.
The supply of information under the FOI Act does not give the recipient or organisation that receives it the automatic right to re-use it in any way that would infringe copyright. This includes, for example, making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to the public. Permission to re-use the information must be obtained in advance from the Controller of HMSO who has responsibility for the licensing of Crown copyright material. For further details on how to apply for a licence please see: www.opsi.gov.uk/click-use/index