Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force on 1 January 2005.

The Act is designed to promote openness and accountability on the part of public authorities, and does so by providing the public with a general right of access to recorded information held by public authorities. The Act also requires public authorities to take a proactive approach to the disclosure of information by adopting and maintaining a publication scheme.

The Information Commissioner is responsible for ensuring public authorities comply with the Act. Further information regarding the Act, and role of the Commissioner can be found on the here.

 

Publication Scheme

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales is committed to routinely making information available to the public through our publication scheme, which is based on the Information Commissioner’s model publication scheme.

In line with our publication scheme obligations, we have produced a guide to information which identifies the information that we will routinely make available to the public. Our guide to information has been produced using the relevant guidance issued by the Information Commissioner.

The majority of documents listed in our guide to information can be downloaded free of charge. Adobe Acrobat Reader will be required to read those provided in pdf form.

Typed material can be supplied in large print if requested. Arrangements can also be made to produce certain documents in Braille or on audio media. All documents published by the PSOW are bilingual in English and in Welsh, with the exception of public interest reports where it is the summaries of such reports that are produced bilingually.

 

Charges

The majority of documents listed under the Ombudsman’s Publication Scheme can be viewed and downloaded free of charge by visiting our Guide to Information

All documents contained within the Publication Scheme may be subject to a charge, dependent upon the number of documents requested. Requests for more than 5 documents of any description will incur a charge of £2.50 per document after the first five documents.

Total charges must be paid before documents are sent out to requestors.

 

Requests for information

If the information you require is not contained within our publication scheme, you can submit a request for information under the Act. The Act states that a request for information must meet the following criteria:

  • the request must be made in writing (including email or written form);
  • the request must state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence; and 
  • the request must describe the information requested.

You can submit a request for information in the following way:

 

    Management Information Officer 
    Public Services Ombudsman for Wales 
    1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae 
    Pencoed 
    Bridgend 
    CF35 5 LJ

Where a request for information is made, we will either provide the information requested or issue a notice stating the reason(s) why any information requested cannot be provided. You will be informed of the outcome of your request no later than the twentieth working day following the date the request is received.

 

Exempt Information

Although we will apply a presumption in favour of disclosure when considering new requests for information, our own governing legislation restricts the disclosure of information obtained during an investigation. We must always balance the wish to operate openly and transparently with the duty to protect the personal and confidential information which we hold. All investigations must be conducted in private, and, where information gathered for the purposes of those investigations can be disclosed, this can only be done in very specific circumstances.

Section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act provides an absolute exemption from disclosure of information requested where such disclosure is prohibited by or under any enactment. Disclosure of information obtained during the course of our investigations is only permitted for the specific purposes set out under section 26 of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005. Disclosure of information relating to allegations of misconduct on the part of a local authority members is also only permitted in specific circumstances under section 63 of the Local Government Act 2000. Therefore, any request for information relating to individual complaint and allegation case files, which is not considered the personal data of the applicant, will generally be considered exempt from disclosure under section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act. In such cases, a refusal notice will be issued containing such details.

There may also be circumstances in which we are not obliged to comply with a request for information if we estimate that the cost of complying with the request would exceed an ‘appropriate limit’ of £450. This provision is set out under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act. The appropriate limit of £450 is set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, and is calculated at a rate of £25 per hour. Therefore, if we estimate that the time required to comply with a request would exceed 18 hours, we may choose to issue a notice to this effect no later than the twentieth working day following the date the request is received.

 

Internal Review

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received to your request for information, you have the right to request an internal review. All reviews are impartial and undertaken by someone more senior than the person who took the original decision. Reviews will usually be completed within 20 working days following the date a request for review is received. In exceptional cases, the time for response may be extended to 40 working days.

Requests for internal review should be clearly marked, and can either be emailed to ask@ombudsman-wales.org.uk or sent by post to the following address:

 

    Legal Adviser 
    Public Services Ombudsman for Wales 
    1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae 
    Pencoed 
    Bridgend 
    CF35 5 LJ

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the findings of the internal review, you should contact the Information Commissioner on the details below:

 

    Information Commissioner's Office 
    Wycliffe House 
    Water Lane 
    Wilmslow 
    Cheshire 
    SK9 5AF 
    TEL: 01625 545700 
    Fax: 01625 545510 
    http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Full details of our internal review procedure and the role of the Information Commissioner will also be provided with our notices.