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Freedom of Information Annual Statistics 2009

The Ministry of Justice has published the 2009 annual statistics on the handling of FOI requests in central government.

Executive summary 

  • In 2009, monitored central government bodies received a total of 40,548 non-routine FOI and EIR requests – a 16 per cent increase on the number received in 2008. 
  • The number of requests received by all the monitored bodies averaged about 10,100 per quarter during 2009. Departments of State received 59 per cent of the requests, while the other monitored bodies received the remaining 41 per cent. 
  • 82 per cent of requests received a substantive response within the 20 working-day limit. A further 5 per cent of requests were subject to a Public Interest Test extension. 
  • 58 per cent of “resolvable” requests (those where it was possible to give a substantive decision on whether to release the information being sought) were granted in full in 2009. 23 per cent of resolvable requests resulted in the information being fully withheld. 
  • Of the 40,548 requests received during the year, 3 per cent were subject to a fee being levied. Of these, 99 per cent were in relation to requests received by the National Archives. The average amount of paid fee was £54 
  • 8,754 requests received during 2009 were refused, either in full or in part, where one or more exemption or exception was applied. The most commonly applied exemptions were under section 40 (personal information) and section 30 (investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities), however, the profile of exemption usage differed between Departments of State and other monitored bodies. 
  • A total of 1,502 Internal Reviews were requested across all monitored bodies in relation to information requests received in 2009, on the grounds that some or all of the requested information was withheld. 
  • There were 206 appeals made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) relating to the refusal of information requests by monitored bodies in 2009 and where the monitored body in question had been notified of the appeal – an increase on the 153 made in 2008.

The report shows that requests to central government departments incur more delays than those to other monitored bodies – the percentage of requests responded to within the 20-day deadline was 75% for government departments compared to 91% for other monitored bodies. A number of departments answered barely half of requests within the 20 day deadline (MoD 53%, Scotland Office 58%, Home Office 59%). Quite why the Scotland Office’s record should be bad when it received only 179 requests, is not clear, although it did release the information in full in 79% of those requests.

Download the report here.

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