Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. Any individual or organisation can make a request for information. Any person who makes a request to a public authority must be informed whether the authority holds such requested information, and subsequently supplied with a copy of that information. The Act does however include a range of exemptions that preclude disclosure of certain information from that right of access.
Individuals have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Freedom of Information Act will extend this right to allow the public access to all types of information. This individual right of access to information came into effect on 1st January 2005.
The Freedom of Information legislation cannot be used to obtain information for use in an Immigration Application/Criminal Record check or request a record of an incident personal to you.
The provision of this type of information is provided within the Subject Access provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. This gives individuals the right to request a copy of any information recorded about themselves or confirmation that none exists, providing the fee of £10.00 is paid and the relevant application form completed. However such information, if any exists may under certain circumstances be withheld. Please click here to access the Subject Access documents.
The intention of the Act is to encourage a spirit of openness and transparency within Public Authorities. Devon and Cornwall Police fully supports this aim.
However, in order to protect sensitive material, exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act may prevent some information from being released. Where this happens we will clearly show where information has not been published and the reasons for it.
Information concerning police investigations
Police investigations are conducted with due regard to the confidentiality and privacy of victims, witnesses and suspects. Such investigations may also frequently involve the use of policing tactics or techniques that, if widely known, would hinder the ability of the police service to prevent and detect crime. It is further recognised that the release of information concerning current investigations may compromise any subsequent court proceedings.
For these reasons the police service will, in most cases, seek to apply an exemption to prevent the release of information concerning investigations when requested under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000.
Whilst adopting this general position, there is full recognition that in some cases there will be significant and compelling issues of public interest that require the disclosure of information. However, to override issues of personal privacy and possible harm to individuals involved in the investigation, this public interest must be significantly more than mere curiosity or interest in a particular investigation.
In order to ensure that these public interest issues are fully considered, all applications for information concerning investigations will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the requirements of the Act.
The Act is enforced by the Information Commissioner (the "Commissioner"), a post that combines regulation of both the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.