Portsmouth city council

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoI) gives anyone the right to ask for any information held by a public authority, which includes Portsmouth City Council. The information must be in a recorded form, so can include:

  • documents
  • minutes of meetings
  • e-mails
  • handwritten notes
  • videos
  • letters
  • audio recordings.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and legislation.gov.uk sites feature detailed information on the Freedom of Information act - please follow the links below for more.

The Council and Freedom of Information

Portsmouth City Council has always been committed to openness - it increases public confidence in our ability to serve the community and lead the city. We want to show that we are an open organisation committed to delivering the best possible public services. You can get information by:

  • Searching our FoI publication scheme for a wide range of information
  • Submit a request for information under FoI, if you can't find what you're looking for in our Publication Scheme or website 
  • Ask to re-use any information you are provided with under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations

Freedom of Information policy

Portsmouth City Council's Freedom of Information policy ensures that the Council will:

  • comply with the FoI Act and sees it as an opportunity to enhance public trust and confidence in the Council
  • maintain a comprehensive ‘Publication Scheme’ that provides information which is readily accessible without the need for a formal FoI request
  • seek to satisfy all FoI requests promptly and within 20 working days. However, if necessary we will extend this timescale to give full consideration to a Public Interest test. If we do not expect to meet the deadline, we will inform the requester as soon as possible of the reasons for the delay and when we expect to have made a decision
  • continue to protect the personal data entrusted to us, by disclosing it only in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998
  • provide advice and assistance to requesters to facilitate their use of FoI. We will publish our procedures and assist requesters to clarify their requests so that they can obtain the information they require
  • work with partners and contractors to ensure that we can meet our FoI obligations, including the disclosure of any information that they hold on our behalf
  • apply the exemptions provided in the FoI Act and, where qualified exemptions exist, disclose the information unless the balance of public interest lies in withholding it
  • consult with third parties before disclosing information that could affect their rights and interests. However, according to the FoI Act, we must take the final decision on disclosure
  • charge for information requests in line with the FoI Fees Regulations or other applicable regulations, including the Data Protection Act 1998
  • record all FoI requests and our responses and will monitor our performance in handling requests and complaints
  • adopt good information and record management practices in line with the Lord Chancellor’s “Code of Practice on The Management of Records under section 46 of the FoI Act”
  • ensure that all permanent and contract staff are aware of their obligations under FoI, and will include FoI education in the induction of all new staff

Environmental information

If you need environmental information (such as data about the air, atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscapes, natural sites, wetlands and coastal marine areas),  please see Environmental Information Regulations section below.

Freedom of Information exemptions

Only one absolute exemption need apply for the information to be withheld - absolute exemptions include sections 21, 23, 32, 34, 36, 40, 41 and 44 of the exempt information included in the FoI act. Where information is covered by an absolute exemption, we may refuse to release the information and, in some circumstances, can refuse to confirm or deny whether we hold the information.

If a qualified exemption applies, the information must be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding it is greater than the public interest in releasing it - qualified exemptions include sections 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42 and 43 of the exempt information included in the FoI act.

Freedom of Information advice for contractors

Freedom of Information (FoI) applies to all information held by public bodies. It also applies to specifically-designated private companies that perform public functions but not to other private companies.

However, all of the information that we hold about your company is covered by FoI, as is any information that you hold on our behalf.

Data protection act and personal information

If you are looking for personal information about yourself or about another person on their behalf, please see the ICO page about Data Protection.

If you want to know what personal information the Council has of yours, please view requesting information for further details.

Freedom of Information (FoI) requests can be made by writing to the council's Corporate Information Governance Officer at the address below.

Please check our Publication Scheme first as the information you require may already be available. If the information is not available, please contact us by email or post with:

  • your name and address for correspondence
  • the information you require

To comply with FoI, Portsmouth City Council must respond to requests within 20 working days (subject to exemptions).

Where a fee is required, you will be advised and you must pay before the request is processed. If the fee is not paid within three months, the request will be considered lapsed.

Where requests are repeated or considered an intentional annoyance, the council will be under no obligation to disclose the information requested.

Personal information

You can find out what personal information of yours the council has, by writing a request to the Data Protection Officer. The data access request form is available to print and complete below.

Please include a fee of £10 by cheque (£5 if you are in receipt of benefit), made payable to Portsmouth City Council, and bring in to ground floor reception at the Civic Offices, along with:

  • a form of identification (passport or driving licence)
  • a recent bank statement or utility bill 

The following may also be helpful:

  • any former names
  • former addresses
  • reference numbers given to you by council services

If you cannot come to the Civic Offices, or don't have any form of identification please use the contact details below to discuss it with us.

Environmental information

A request under the Environmental Information Regulations can be written or verbal - more details in separate section below.

FoI requests

We will charge for FoI requests in line with the national FoI fees regulations. If the cost of finding and retrieving the information does not exceed £450 (equivalent to 18 hours work) there will be no charge, other than for disbursements.

If the cost exceeds £450 we will charge for all the hours at a rate of £25 per hour or decline the request - alternatively, we will assist the requester in refining the request to within 18 hours to ensure no charge will be incurred.

Disbursement costs are free up to £5 - above this, we will charge the full amount, including the initial £5. Where a fee is involved, we will issue a fees notice requesting payment - the request will not progress until the fees have been paid. The 20 working-day target for responding to requests will not begin until the fees are paid.

Data Protection Fees

The fee for requesting to see personal data about yourself under the Data Protection Act is £10 - or £5 for Portsmouth Leisure Card holders.

This does not apply if personal data is held in an 'unstructured' form, in which case the FoI fees above will apply.

Environmental Information Regulations

Our charging policy for environmental information is the same as for FoI requests, as above.

Fees where other legislation applies

Where existing legislation applies to an information access request (such as the Town and Country Planning Act) the legislator's own charging regulation will apply.

Disbursements

Disbursements are costs associated with the provision of information in an applicants preferred format. Disbursements include postage costs.

Portsmouth City Council may disburse information by printing, photocopying, or copying to a CD-ROM, video or audio tape. We may translate content into a language other than those which we currently support - Bengali and Cantonese.

Typical disbursement costs are £11.00 for the creation of a CD-ROM, or as per the table below for photocopying:

 Photocopying (cost per sheet) A4 A3 
 Black & white  3p   4p
 Colour  85p   £1.20 

You can appeal against an FoI decision made by the Council, or complain about the way we handled an FoI request or other FoI matter by following the procedures listed below, which are in line with the Council’s corporate complaints process.

Whether you are appealing against a decision or making a complaint about our services or staff, we promise to:

  • take it seriously
  • treat you with courtesy
  • investigate fully and promptly
  • resolve your problem as best we can
  • respect your right to take your complaint further if you're not satisfied

Step one

Your first step for appealing or complaining is to contact us using the following details.

Please email us at foi@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or write to us at the following address:

Corporate Information Governance Officer,
Customer, community & democratic service,
Portsmouth City Council,
Civic offices,
Portsmouth,
PO1 2AL

Appealing an FoI decision

In the first instance, please contact the Corporate Information Governance Officer (address and email above) who will review the decision. If the original decision is confirmed, the appeal will be moved to step two.

Step two

The City Solicitor will review the decision. If the original decision is confirmed and you are still dissatisfied, you should forward your grievances to the Information Commissioner's Office by phone on 0303 123 1113, email at casework@ico.org.uk, or by writing to the following address:

Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
SK9 5AF

To make a complaint

Contact the Council's Corporate Information Governance Officer (address and email in the 'Contact us' section above) who will seek to resolve the complaint.

Step two

If you're still dissatisfied, contact the Head of Legal, Licensing and Registrars, who is the head of service for FoI, on email at foi@portsmouthcc.gov.uk, or at the following address:

Head of Legal, Licensing and Registrars,
Portsmouth City Council,
Civic Offices,
Portsmouth,
PO1 2PX

Step three

If you're still dissatisfied, contact the Chief Executive by telephone on 023 9283 4702 or by writing to the following address:

Chief Executive,
Portsmouth City Council,
Civic Offices,
Portsmouth,
PO1 2AL

Step four

If you're still dissatisfied you can contact the Information Commissioner's Office by phone on 0303 123 1113, email at casework@ico.org.uk, or by writing to the following address:

Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
SK9 5AF

The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 implement an EU directive that encourages the re-use of public information for purposes other than its original purpose. The aim is to stimulate the European information industry and enable companies to use our information for commercial purposes.

The regulations do not oblige public bodies to make their information available for re-use unless there is a statutory obligation to do so. They do oblige public bodies to:

  • publish a list of the main documents which can be re-used
  • publish any standard conditions associated with re-use
  • publish any standard charges associated with re-use
  • operate a request procedure
  • operate a complaints/appeals procedure.

The regulations apply to any recorded information (as defined for FoI), including whole documents or parts of documents.

There are some exemptions to the regulations, including educational or cultural establishments, intellectual property that rests with a third party, and information that is exempt under FoI, Data Protection and other legislation.

Requests should be in writing but, unlike FoI, they must state the reason for the re-use. The Council must respond to requests and complaints within 20 working days, unless the request is very complex or volumes are large.

Complaints procedures must include escalation to the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) and ultimately to the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information.

The regulations encourage public bodies to make the maximum use of electronic means in implementing them. For more detailed information and guidance visit the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.

How to request to re-use information

To apply to re-use information, you should:

  • submit the request in writing - including by email
  • state your name and address
  • specify which documents or pieces of information you wish to re-use
  • state the purpose for which the document or information is to be re-used

Please send the request to the Council's Corporate Information Governance Officer at the address below.

Making a decision

We will deal with your request as quickly as we can and will provide a full response within 20 working days. If we are unable to respond within 20 working days, we will contact you as soon as possible explaining why.

In some cases we will only permit re-use under a set of conditions know as a licence. Where this is the case, we will inform you of the licence conditions and whether there is a charge for the licence.

Appeals and complaints

If we refuse a request to re-use information, we will write to you and include:

  • the reasons for refusal
  • an explanation of our complaints and appeals procedure
  • the identity of any third party, if known, which owns copyright and/or intellectual property rights which led to the refusal

Should you wish to appeal against our decision or make a complaint about the way your request was handled, please write to the Council's Corporate Information Governance Officer at the address below. If, having heard the outcome of your complaint or appeal, you are still dissatisfied, you can refer your case to the Office of Public Sector Information by email at opsilicensing@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk , or by writing to the following address:

Office of Public Sector Information,
Admiralty Arch (North Side),
The Mall,
London,
SW1A 2WH

The council holds the following lists and public registers:

Asset registers and information asset register

Disclosure logs

  • We do not produce a disclosure log, information relating to previous requests is available under Freedom of Information at FOI@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Register of councillors’ financial and other interests

Register of gifts and hospitality

Email: foi@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Telephone: 023 9268 8482 

Post:

Corporate Information Governance Officer,
Customer, community & democratic service,
Portsmouth City Council,
Civic offices,
Portsmouth,
PO1 2AL