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Freedom of Information suddenly not as free as we thought...

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Okay - freedom:

 

free·dom thinsp.png/ˈfrithinsp.pngdəm/[free-duhthinsp.pngm]–noun 1.the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial. 2.exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. 3.the power to determine action without restraint. 4.political or national independence.

 

etc.

 

So the FoI is now most definitely a misnomer. See below for why. I now worry what else they may limit - SARs, for example? To protect their more commercially-minded friends...?

 

Government adopts FOI limits | OUT-LAW.COM - small extract below

 

"The Government has backed proposals to limit Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests to one every three months for all organisations, including newspapers, MPs and campaign groups.

 

The Government has backed the controversial suggestions contained in an independent review of FOI practice produced by consultancy Frontier Economics. The effect will be to drastically reduce the numbers of requests allowable by groups, and could increase the number of requests that are refused, campaigners have warned.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has published a draft of revised regulations covering FOI requests and will consult on that draft until March. The draft follows closely the recommendations of the Frontier Economics report.

At the moment any request which costs less than a fixed amount to process must be fulfilled. That amount is £600 for central government and £450 for local authorities, calculated at a rate of £25 an hour for finding and extracting the information.

The new proposal, though, is to charge for other time consuming activity such as reading of documents and staff consultation. This will send many more requests above the £600 barrier, at which point they can be refused.

Critics of the revisions claim that the changes are designed to prevent the release of vital and complex information, which by definition is more likely to break the £600 barrier because it needs more consultation."


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It has also been used against us - a section has been amended so that evidence relating to offences such as speeding no longer has to be legally provided at request any more!


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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Disclosure of evidence is not within the remit of the FOI though, there is other legislation which governs disclosure of evidence.

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Did you have an 'official' document saying this, chesham? Any chance on getting a look at the exact wording?


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Rob - the FOIA WAS used to request information (including evidence) from Police, in addition to other legislation. But Section 31 was amended to include evidence as 'exempt' material with regards to the Administration of Justice. Because the State was the prosecuting authority, the information held by them (previously) had to be released under the FOIA, but not any more.

 

Normally, evidence would come under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, Data Protection Act, Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act. However, so much information was being given out that mistakes were made and prosecutions were dropped. Remember the case regarding speeding which hinged on the Human Rights Act when you stated you couldn't remember who was driving and wouldn't sign? It was amended, same as the FOIA which has since been amended.

 

I recently got caught by a RADAR gun, and within the NIP was a document from ACPO regarding the amendment to the Acts. I don't have it as I shredded it, along with the other crap they sent me!


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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Chesham,

 

Disclosure of evidence usually comes under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. This legislation makes it quite clear as to what can and should be disclosed. There are also the Attorney Generals guidelines which back up the CPIA.

 

http://www.lslo.gov.uk/pdf/disclosure.doc

 

The state have an obligation to release the evidence, and have done so long before the introduction of the FOIA. I would suspect that any changes under section 31 have been made to ensure requests for disclosure are handled correctly under the CPIA and the AG guidelines rather than via the FOIA.

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In which case, were Thames Valley Police incorrect in advising me that they would not send any information relating to calibration certificates, training records and any other information requested prior to attending court? It clearly stated on their letter they would not release such information until the court date due to the amendment within the FOIA?


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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It'd be pretty nitpicky of them if so - couldn't they have said: we can't supply under FoI; however, under the correct acts of CPIA and AG, here it is...?


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It's been a while since I was involved with this legislation, but having a look, it appears that CIPA gives disclosure rights only if a court hearing has been requested and a not guilty plea entered. The FOIA gave individuals the right to information, therefore it could be obtained within this. I think the FOIA was amended to exempt items used in the investigation of a criminal offence (i.e. speeding) and therefore, the information will only be given in a court of law - probably because it is not 'in the public interest' or 'likely to contravene the justice system' or something very similar to that.

 

By the way, I'm not having a go, I'm intrigued - out of all the speeding and parking tickets I've got out of, I couldn't get out of this one!


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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