Departmental Freedom of Information

Home Department written question – answered on 21st January 2008.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what requests were made to her Department under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2000 in each of the last two years; and what the (a) FOI case reference number, (b) request summary, (c) request outcome and (d) where appropriate, reason for exemption was in each case.

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Home Secretary

In 2005, 1,970 requests were received in the Home Office, of which 1,469 were resolvable. The non-resolvable cases were those where no information was held or where advice and assistance were provided. Of the 1,469 resolvable requests, 42 per cent. of the requests were granted in full and 35 per cent. were withheld in full. The remainder of requests resulted in a partial disclosure or the requests were not replied to in 2005.

In 2006, 2,861 requests were received of which 1,790 were resolvable. Of the resolvable requests, 42 per cent. were granted in full and 33 per cent were withheld in full. The remainder resulted in a partial disclosure or the requests were not replied to in 2006.

Between 1 January and 30 September 2007, 1,849 requests were received, of which 1,270 were resolvable. Of the resolvable requests, 50 per cent. were granted in full and 24 per cent. were withheld in full. The remainder resulted in a partial disclosure or the requests were still being processed after 30 September last year. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

All Freedom of Information requests are logged on an Access database. An automatic case reference number is generated by the database when a new case is added.

Unfortunately a summary of each request received by the Department could be provided only at disproportionate cost. FOI requests are often contained in letters detailing individuals' personal circumstances. To put the details of the requests into the public domain would require personal information (which would allow identification of the individual to be ascertained) to be removed. This could be done only at disproportionate cost. The Home Office disclosure log provides a useful picture of the types of request received by the Department and the information which has been disclosed as a result. The disclosure log can be found at

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/freedom-of-information/released-information/

It is also impossible to provide the specific reason why an exemption is applied without consulting each FOI response issued by the Department. This information could be collated only at disproportionate cost. It may however be useful to see the top ten exemptions used by the Department from September 2006 to August 2007.

1. S40 Personal information (139).

2. S31 Law enforcement (105).

3. S22 Information intended for future publication (89).

4. S35 Formulation of government policy (49).

5. S36 Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs (44).

6. S43 Commercial interests (38).

7. S23 Information supplied by or related to bodies dealing with security matters (32).

8. S38 Health and safety (30).

9. S24 National security (29).

10. S42 Legal professional privilege (22).

The right hon. Gentleman should be aware that more than one exemption can be applied for withholding information within a single request.

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