Freedom of Information

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The College is committed to promoting a culture of openness and accountability. This page provides an overview of how information about Northern College can be accessed.

Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to access information held by colleges (and other public authorities). We are committed to promoting a culture of openness and accountability, and information about the College can be accessed in two ways:

Publication Scheme

The College makes information available proactively through our publication scheme. The publication scheme sets out what information we routinely make available and how you can access it without needing to make a formal written request. In many cases the information is available on our website. For other information contained in the scheme, you may need to phone us on 01226 776000 or email us at dpofficer@northern.ac.uk and we will send you the information. We will try to do this within 3-5 working days.

There is no charge for any of the information contained in the publication scheme in the format indicated.

Individual Requests

If the information you require is not available via the College’s publication scheme you will need to put your request in writing. You have the right to ask for information which we hold on any subject or relating to any particular topic. This right covers only recorded information including information held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten documents.

How to make a request

You should make your request in writing to:

The Data Protection Officer
Northern College
Wentworth Castle
Lowe Lane
Stainborough
Barnsley
S75 3ET

01226 776016

dpofficer@northern.ac.uk

We will write to you to acknowledge your request and let you know the deadline by which we will respond. You should expect a response from us within twenty working days. We may need more details from you or clarification of what you want before we can either locate the information or respond appropriately. Our response will let you know whether we hold the information, and, if we do, we will either supply a copy of it or set out the reasons why we believe an exemption applies.

Advice on submitting a request is available from the Information Commissioner.

Exemptions

The FOIA sets out a series of exemptions to protect confidential or other information where disclosure may prejudice the interests of the College or of third parties.

The act does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the cost of finding or copying the information would be disproportionately high. Similarly public authorities are not obliged to respond to vexatious or repeated requests. Public authorities are not expected to comply with requests for information unless the person making the request gives enough of a description to allow the information required to be identified.

The act also lists a number of exemptions to the right of access. Public authorities are not required to release information to which an exemption in the act legitimately applies. However, they may be required to explain to the applicant why they are not releasing information and they may also have to justify this to the Information Commissioner.

The exemptions include:

  • information already accessible elsewhere – if this is the case, we will endeavour to direct you to the authority which holds the information
  • information provided to us in confidence
  • personal information – this is covered by the Data Protection Act and is only available to the individual concerned
  • information which might endanger the physical or mental health or the personal safety of an individual or group of individuals
  • information intended for future publication – if we are planning to publish this information, you may have to wait until it is published before you can access it
  • information which would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of a public authority
  • information which would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs
  • certain exemptions are subject to a public interest test which means that public authorities may be required to release information if the public interest is deemed to outweigh any concerns that the public authority may have about making the information available

Further information about exempted information, including a full list of exemptions is available from the Information Commissioner.

If your request is refused, we will tell you why and identify which exemption we are applying.

Charges

There may be a charge for complicated requests, but we will try to deal with simple and routine requests at no cost to you. Any fees will be calculated in accordance with the fees regulations set out in the Freedom of Information Act.

If we don’t hold the information you have requested

The act states that we must release information we hold but we do not have to produce new information in response to a request. We will not undertake fresh research on a subject in order to respond to a request.

Complaints

If you are unhappy about the way in which your request has been handled (usually if your request for information has been denied, in whole or in part), you should complain to the College in the first instance.

An internal review of your request will be undertaken by a senior manager who was not involved in handling your original request. Details of how to submit a request for an internal review will be provided in the letter setting out our original response.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint or internal review, you may apply to the Information Commissioner who will investigate the case and determine whether your request for information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the act.

The Information Commissioner
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545700
Email: data@dataprotection.gov.uk
Website: www.ico.org.uk

Sources of advice

If you are unhappy about the way in which your request has been handled (usually if your request for information has been denied, in whole or in part), you should complain to the College in the first instance.

An internal review of your request will be undertaken by a senior manager who was not involved in handling your original request. Details of how to submit a request for an internal review will be provided in the letter setting out our original response.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint or internal review, you may apply to the Information Commissioner who will investigate the case and determine whether your request for information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the act.

The Information Commissioner
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545700
Email: data@dataprotection.gov.uk
Website: www.ico.org.uk

About the Freedom of Information Act

The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is to give you the right to access information held by organisations that receive public funds, such as central government departments, local authorities, police forces, health services, schools, colleges and universities. The aim is to promote better public understanding of how these organisations carry out their duties, why and how they make the decisions they do and how they spend tax payers’ money.

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