Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you the right to obtain information held by public authorities unless there are good reasons to keep it confidential. We are committed to being open and transparent and making as much information as possible accessible to the general public. However, we also respect confidentiality and personal privacy of data protection, and other relevant controls upon access to information.
The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to obtain information held by public authorities, including ODSL, unless there are good reasons to keep it confidential
The Freedom of Information Act creates two general rights in relation to information:
- the right to be told whether or not the information requested is held
- the right to be given that information within 20 working days
Advice on the Requests Process
All requests under FOI must be in writing, this also includes by e-mail. All requests should be sent to:
When sending your request, please give your real name and an address we can reply to; either postal or email.
In your request you do not have to:
- mention the Freedom of Information Act, although it will help us to deal with your enquiry more quickly if you do
- know whether the information is covered by the Freedom of Information Act
- say why you want the information.
We do ask that you:
- use clear language, if we are not sure what you want, we will have to ask you for clarification, which may delay our final response.
- ask for specific information rather than using open-ended questions. ‘What?’ or ‘How much?’ are more likely to get the response you want rather than ‘Why?’.
- say how you would like to receive the information; electronically or as a hard copy. Otherwise, we will respond to you by the same method as your request.
Once we receive your request in writing we will begin to process it. It will be allocated a reference number and you will receive an acknowledgement confirming receipt.
How long will you take to respond to a request?
We will respond to your request within twenty working days or advise you of any delay, as required under the Freedom of Information Act.
Where the information is easy to obtain (published on our website or in a leaflet, or easy to view at one of our offices) we will treat your request as 'business as usual' and supply the information or provide access to it as quickly as possible.
Where the request is more complex, we will keep a record of the request and how it was dealt with for monitoring purposes. The personal information you provide will not be used for anything other than dealing with your request.
Refusals and exemptions
Occasionally requests may involve a great deal of work because information is not held in a way which makes it easy to supply an answer to an enquiry. In this case we can refuse it under exemptions in the Act or the Regulations but we will always try to suggest information which we are able to provide which will take less time to prepare, and which we think may answer your request instead.
We may also aggregate several requests on the same subject (from the same requester or where a number of requesters are working together), and if the administration of the aggregated requests exceeds a reasonable amount of time we may refuse them all.
We are empowered to refuse vexatious and repeated requests or to refuse to provide information because the request is manifestly unreasonable. It is always the request (not the requester) to which these provisions apply.
We may also refuse to supply information because we consider that it is exempt from disclosure. There are a number of exemptions in the Act which are mirrored by similar exceptions in the Regulations. We will provide details of the exception used and why we are implementing the exception in our response to your request.
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request by our Freedom of Information Officer, you are entitled to ask us for an internal review of the decision(s) made. Our final response will always include information on how to ask for a review.
You should contact us within 40 days of the date our decision letter, letting us know that you’d like an internal review.
You may do this by writing to the address below:
Director, Corporate Services
Oxford, OX4 2HH
We will carry out an internal review of a FOI request within 20 working days.
If, after the result of an internal review you are still not satisfied you may ask the Information Commissioner to intervene on your behalf. You may do this by writing.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent body who has the power to investigate the way any public authority has handled your request and the answer they gave. If it is found that we have wrongly withheld information, they can order us to disclose it to you.
You can find further details and the address to write to on the Freedom of Information page of the Information Commissioner's Office website.