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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 General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018
  • 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 General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018
  • 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.