Freedom of Information is a fundamental human right.  In order to obtain vital information from public authorities about how they are adhering to their human rights obligations, what they are spending money on, and to learn about the real reasons for decisions.  PPR often submits requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Freedom of Information requests are an effective tool in our approach, but are used to best effect when the information provided is made available to those directly impacted by the issues.

A sample Freedom of Information request and comprehensive guide to the Freedom of Information Legislation can be found by clicking here

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an authority must supply the information or explain why it cannot within 20 working days. They are required to notify you of receipt of your request, and you do not have to say why you want the information. Authorities will only be able to withhold information if an exemption in the Act allows them. The Information Commissioner has an oversight role, and can give advice on submitting an FOI request, and rule on complaints.

In early 2013, PPR and the Belfast Mental Health Rights Group submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Health and Social Care (HSC) Board. This was following the HSC Board’s decision to dissolve the Project Board on which the group sat, which was taken without the group’s knowledge. The Project Board was set up to ensure the proper implementation of the group’s Card Before You Leave initiative, an appointments system for those presenting at A&E in mental health crisis. Through the Freedom of Information request we uncovered information presented at meetings when the decision was taken to dissolve the Project Board, which cited the group’s campaigning work and concluded as a result of this ‘they had excluded themselves’ from the Board.