Requests that should be answered locally
This procedure explains how to deal with a freedom of information request which does not require Records Management Section input or support.
Follow the 'receiving a request' procedure to determine if this procedure applies to the request you have received.
Which information regime applies?
Before going any further you need to work out which information regime applies. Has the applicant asked for information about themselves? If so, the request is a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998 and should be dealt with under those procedures rather than the steps below on these webpages.
Dealing with freedom of information requests
1. Calculate the response deadline
The response deadline is 20 working days after the request was received by the University.
Working days are Monday-Friday, regardless of whether you are at work or whether the University is open. The only exception are the four bank holidays which occur over the Christmas closure period.
You can enter the relevant dates in our response deadline spreadsheet tool to calculate the deadline.
2. Send an acknowledgement
Copy and paste the text below into an email or a letter using your department's letterhead. Insert the information indicated by the square brackets.
Model text for acknowledging a freedom of information request
Thank you for your [email/letter/fax] of [date] requesting information about [insert subject of the request]. I am writing to let you know that we have received your request and will process it as soon as possible, and certainly within 20 working days of the day we received the request. You will hear back from us by [calculated response date] at the latest.
3. Find the requested information
Searches must be thorough and proportionate and focus on record systems (paper or electronic or both) where staff with a working knowledge of the records relating to the information request consider relevant information to be held
Think beyond conventional places; include emails, staff notes and temporary records.
Make a note (for the request file) of the searches that were conducted and their results.
If locating and retrieving information will take more than approximately 7 hours tell the Records Management Section as soon as possible as it may be possible to charge the applicant a fee for providing the information.
4. Write the response
There is some information we are legally required to include in responses to freedom of information requests. For this reason, follow the procedures for writing the response.
5. Send out the response
Send the response within the deadline calculated above.
Ensure a copy of the response is filed in your local records management system. Information request handling case files should be kept for a minimum of 2 years. The Records Management Section may request a copy of the request case file.
6. Right to review
The applicant has the right to request a review of the response to any freedom of information request. If you receive correspondence back from the applicant expressing dissatisfaction with the response, or querying the way you have handled a request, you must tell the Records Management Section as soon as possible.
The Records Management Section will then liaise with the relevant staff to respond to the review using our review procedures.