making a general request for informatioN
In recent years a number of Acts and regulations have been introduced to ensure that we have access to a wide range of information held by public authorities. Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s approach is to make as much information available as possible, to be open, honest and accurate in providing this information and in creating records that may be of public interest.
While Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority aims to be compliant with current legislation (e.g. Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Data Protection Act 1998) it does not try to exploit areas of this legislation to seek exemptions, delay the provision of information or put any obstacle in the way of people seeking information.
How can I make a request for information?
You can make a request for information in a number of ways:
Telephone - 01296 744400
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax - 01296 744600
Post - Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service Headquarters, Stocklake, Aylesbury, HP20 1BD
You will need to tell us your name and address because we will always respond to your request in writing (either through the post, by fax or email).
Who should I ask to speak to or who should I address my request to?
Anyone you speak to who works for the Fire Authority, at any of our Fire Stations or at Headquarters, will assist you with your request. If they are not able to provide the information immediately they will ensure that your request is dealt with. If you are sending a request by email, you can send it to email@example.com or to the Information Rights Officer, Gerry Barry.
How will you deal with my request?
Whoever you contact, and by whatever means, you will be told how we will deal with your request and our best estimate of how long it will take us to provide you with the information. We record your request in a register and try to find the information you are looking for as quickly as possible. We may not be able to provide the information immediately but aim to within 20 working days.
How will I know that you are dealing with my request and it hasn’t just got lost somewhere?
If we cannot provide the information within a few days we will send you an acknowledgement of your request and details of how we are dealing with it. We will also try to give you our best estimate of how long it will take us to provide you with the information.
What if I’m not sure exactly what it is I need?
Try to describe what you are looking for as best you can. Our “Information Guide” shows a lot of the type of information that we hold and this is published on our website. We can send you a copy of this to help you identify exactly what it is you need to know. We will also make some suggestions and maybe send some records that we think may hold the answers you are looking for.
What if you don’t have the information that I am asking for?
If we think one of our partner organisations has the information we may ask them for it for you or send your request on to them (but we will only do this if you are happy for us to do that). However, it may be that you are looking for information that we no longer hold. Some of our records are considered to be of no value after a period of time (this varies from one type of record to another) and we destroy them. Sometimes records are not made – although we try to maintain informative minutes of meetings and decisions, we do not capture complete discussions, only the points that we think are important and of interest to others.
Do you have any information that you will not give me?
Other people’s personal information: Although we try to make as much information available as we possibly can we do not provide personal information about our employees and others as a matter of course. We consider personal information, such as records like home addresses and health matters, should not be provided. We do provide the names of employees and others, where it is appropriate and with their consent, and we always provide this information where the person is someone that you would have reason to contact, for example our Chief Fire Officer, directors, complaints and information officers etc.
Information we are planning to publish: We also do not provide information if we or, for example, the Home Office have already planned to publish it – you will have to wait until we have done so. This includes minutes and papers that have not been approved by the Fire Authority or where we are consulting with others.
A number of people who are interested in the work of fire and rescue services ask us for statistical information about fires, false alarms and other incidents attended by fire crews as well as information about our workforce, fire prevention work, health and safety and firefighter pensions. We regularly provide statistical information to the Home Office who create and publish tables comparing performance with (for example) other fire and rescue services. You can find these tables on the GOV.UK website here.
Information that will harm a partner or supplier: We only accept information in confidence if it is necessary to obtain the information in conducting Fire Authority business and if the information would not otherwise be provided. The decision as to whether to release this information will be determined following legal consultation.
Information that affects the security of the organisation or national security: We have some information that we need to have to make risk assessments or to plan our response to major incidents. It is important that we do not make this information public for security reasons. Requests for sensitive information will normally be referred to the police.
What if I think you have personal information about me?
If you think we have personal information about you (you may be an existing or ex-employee) our Information Rights Officer will ensure your request is processed appropriately and will need proof that you are the person who the information relates to. This is to ensure that information is secured effectively and to protect your privacy.
Will you charge me for information?
Not normally. We do charge for fire reports but, in the main, we prefer to try to give out as much information as we can free of charge. Our "Information Guide" will notify you of any categories that we do charge for. We will always tell you if there will be a charge, and will wait until we have received payment before we send you the information.
What happens if you don’t have the information how I want it - for example, if you don’t have it electronically, only as a hard copy?
Although we will do our best to provide information in the way that you wish to receive it, we may not always be able to do this. Where a record is held as hard copy we will not normally reproduce it electronically. If you have special needs, for example problems with your sight or you wish to read the record in a language other than English, please let us know and we will try to assist you.
What if I am not happy with the information I have been given or with your decision not to provide me with the information I have requested?
When we reply to your request we will provide you with information about our complaints procedure. If you notify us that you are not satisfied with our response we will pursue your request under our complaints procedure. If that procedure is exhausted, we will advise you of your rights to complain directly to the Information Commissioner.
Contact details: Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Tel: 01625 545745 | Fax: 01625 545745 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org