The dome at the top of The Queen's Tower

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") imposes a number of obligations on public authorities, which for these purposes includes the College, and provides the public with wide rights of access to the College's records. In essence, members of the public have a statutory right:

a. to obtain (either from the College's website or in some other form) all the information covered by the College's Publication Scheme.

b. to request any information held by the College, regardless of when it was created, by whom, or the form in which it is now recorded.

This Policy, and its associated Codes of Practice, set out how the College will meet its obligations under the Act. The Council of Imperial College has overall responsibility for the Policy and for ensuring that it is complied with. The Council has delegated to the Rector responsibility for the associated Codes of Practice and for ensuring that they are implemented across the College and are reviewed annually.

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Policy statement

The College is committed to being open and honest in the conduct of its operations and to complying fully with the Freedom of Information Act. To this end the College will:

a. Be open with the general public and the media and will place in the public domain as much information about its activities as is practicable and, subject to the exemptions permitted under the Act, will make all other information available on request.

b. Establish records management organisations, structures and procedures which meet the requirements of the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records. (1)

c. Deal with all requests for information in accordance with the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Discharge of Public Authorities' Functions. (2)

There will be occasions when the College will not be able to supply all the information requested. Information will only be withheld in accordance with the exemptions laid down in the Act, and in particular those concerning:

a. The College's duties under the Data Protection Act 1998 to keep confidential sensitive information about individual members of staff and students;

b. Other legal and contractual obligations; or

c. Material detrimental to the safe and efficient conduct of the College's operations or which is commercially sensitive.

On such occasions the College will always state the reasons why information has been withheld.

Relationship with existing policies

This Policy has been formulated within the context of the following College documents:

a. The College's Data Protection Policy;

b. The College's Information Systems Security Policy

Publication scheme

The College's Publication Scheme, which has been approved by the Office of the Information Commissioner, is available on the College's website for inspection at the College's Library, or in printed form by application to the College Secretary.

Implementation of the policy

The procedures for implementation of this policy are contained in two College Codes of Practice:

a. Management of Records.

(1) The Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records makes it clear that public bodies should adopt co-ordinated records management structures, procedures and systems that cover Freedom of Information, Data Protection and Records Management.
(2) The College has followed this guidance in the development of its Code of Practice for the Management of Records.

b. Requests for Information.

(1) The Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Discharge of Public Authorities' Functions requires institutions to have in place a system for managing requests for information.
(2) The College has followed this guidance in the development of its Code of Practice on Requests for Information.

Review

The operation of the Policy and its associated Codes of Practice will be reviewed annually by the Operations Committee at its January Meeting.

Validation

This Policy was approved by the Council of Imperial College at its meeting on 13 February 2004.

Reference 1 - "Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records" Issued under Section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, November 2002.

Reference 2 - "Lord Chancellor's Code Of Practice on the discharge of public authorities functions under Part I of the Freedom of Information Act 2000" Issued under Section 45 of the Act, November 2002