Departments buck trend of declining FOI requests

Written by Jim Dunton on 22 September 2016 in News

Stats show Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, and Home Office hit by double-digit rises as overall number of demands declines

Three government departments have bucked a general decline in Freedom of Information Act requests with query hikes of up to 20%, new figures reveal.

Just-published Cabinet Office data for the period from April to June this year shows there was a 4.4% overall decrease in the number of demands for information lodged by members of the public, researchers, and businesses with departments and other monitored government bodies – such as the National Archives and Ofsted.

But according to the statistical release, the Ministry of Justice saw a 20.1% spike in the information requests, with 1,105 submitted in the quarter compared 979 in the same period in 2015.

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By volume, the Ministry of Defence saw the largest rise over the three months, with an additional 195 FOI requests to the 920 lodged in April-June 2015 – a rise of 17.9%.

Figures for the Home Office showed a 10.5% rise in FOIs, up to 882 for the period, while the Cabinet Office’s tally rose by 4.7% to 423.

A Cabinet Office commentary on the entire set of statistics said that just under three-quarters of the FOI requests were considered to be “resolvable” under the terms of the act, and that of 44% of the resolvable requests had been answered in full – a decrease of 2% in comparison with the same period in 2015. 

The now-defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was the worst departmental performer in terms of timeliness. It reported a late-response rate of 35%, with answers to a further 9% of FOIs subject to an extended timeframe responses.

Of the monitored bodies, the Royal Mint had the worst “in time" record, with late responses given to 57% of its FOI requests.

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