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Top tips to unlock ‘official secrets’

Ever wondered how much your local council spends on keeping your roads and
parks clean and tidy? What about the number of empty properties that are in your
area?  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is today launching tips to help
people use their rights under the Freedom of Information Act to access official
information from public authorities.

To mark International Right to Know day on Sunday 28 September the ICO is
advising individuals on how to make a freedom of information request.  Under the
Act individuals have a right to ask a public authority for any official documents, for
example, minutes of council meetings and details of public spending. The authority
must then provide the information or explain why the information should not be
disclosed.  If a public authority refuses to release the information individuals can
complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the ICO, said: “The Freedom of Information
Act gives us all important rights to access official information from public authorities,
such as local councils, health trusts and police forces.   Using the Act will help
members of the public understand more about what is done in their name and with
their money.”

Under the Freedom of Information Act public authorities must make it clear to
individuals the kind of information that will routinely be made available to the public.  
This is called a publication scheme

How to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act

1. Put your freedom of information request in writing. e.g. fax, email or
by post

2. Be specific and clear about the information you want

3. Check what information the public authority has already published

4. If the public authority want to charge you for the requested
information, ask them how you can avoid or reduce the cost

5. If you are not happy with the public authority’s response ask them to
review their decision. If still dissatisfied, you can complain to the
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

If you need more information, please contact the Information Commissioner’s press
office on 020 7025 7580 or visit the website at: 

Details of information which has been released by public authorities in your
area under the Freedom of Information Act:

• Number of police stations that have been closed and opened by North Wales Police 
• How much money has the Welsh Assembly invested in the regeneration of Pontypridd
• How many passengers have used the Articulated-Flexible buses in Cardiff during the financial
year of 2006 / 2007?
• The number and cost of copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows purchased (or pre-
ordered) by public libraries in Cardiff 
• Details of all security breaches where staff or patients' personal information such as name,
date of birth, address, medical information, national insurance number and/or bank details
has been lost by Velindre NHS Trust for a period of time

Contact information

Freedom of Information Officer
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
The Pavilions
Clydach Vale
CF40 2XX

Telephone: (01443) 424189
Fax: (01443) 424114


Also you can contact the Welsh Assembly

You can contact the team responsible for access to information at:

For general enquiries contact the Assembly switchboard:

Welsh Assembly Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Tel: 0845 010 3300


Freedom of Information Officer

Tel: 029 2080 1177


Data Protection Officer

Tel: 029 2082 6883


If you are seeking copies of documents published by the Welsh Assembly
Government, please contact the Publications Centre:

Tel: 029 2082 3683

Fax: 029 2082 5239