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Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 came into force on 1 January 2005.

As a public authority the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales must comply with the FOI Act. The aim of the Act is to make information available to the general public in order to promote openness and accountability. Under the FOI Act we can only provide information that would be given to anybody who asked for it, or it would be suitable for the general public to see. The Act also requires us to make certain information routinely available via our publication scheme.

Publication Scheme

We have produced a guide to information which identifies the information that we will routinely make available to the public. Our guide to information is based on the Information Commissioner’s publication scheme guidance.

Typed material can be supplied in large print if requested. Arrangements can also be made to produce certain documents in Braille or on audio media. All documents published by the PSOW are bilingual in English and in Welsh, with the exception of public interest reports where it is the summaries of such reports that are produced bilingually.

Charges

The majority of documents listed in our guide to information can be downloaded free of charge.  Adobe Acrobat Reader will be required to read those provided in pdf form.

If you wish us to make copies of any of the documents rather than downloading them yourself from our website, we may charge for this. The charge will depend on the number of documents requested. Requests for more than five documents of any description will incur a charge of £2.50 per document after the first five documents. Total charges must be paid before documents are sent out to requester

Requests for information

If you cannot find the information you are looking for in our publication scheme, you can make a request under the FOI Act. The Act says a request for information must meet the following criteria:

  • it must be made in writing (including email or written form);
  • state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence; and
  • must describe the information requested.

You can submit a request for information in the following way:

Information Governance Manager
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae
Pencoed
Bridgend
CF35 5LJ

When we receive your request for information, we will respond within 20 working days to either:

  • give you the information;
  • tell you if we don’t have the information;
  • tell you if another authority has the information;
  • refuse to give you the information and explain why;
  • if we need more time to consider the public interest in disclosing or withholding the information, we will let you know when to expect a response. This will be no later than 40 working days after the date of your request. We will only extend the time limit in certain circumstances and we will let you know the reason for this.

If your request for information is about yourself then you should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.

Exempt Information

We are committed to working in an open and transparent way and wish to share information wherever that is possible and lawful. However, we must balance this with our duty to protect the personal and confidential information which we hold.

We must comply with own governing legislation, which  restricts the information we are able to make public. This says that all our investigations must be conducted in private. Section 69(2) of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019 and section 63 of the Local Government Act 2000 prohibit the disclosure of information except for some limited purposes. Therefore, any request for information relating to individual complaint and allegation case files, which is not considered the personal data of the applicant, will generally be considered exempt from disclosure under section 44 of the FOI Act.

Under section 12 of the FOI Act we can refuse a request if it would take too much time for us to deal with it. The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fess) Regulations 2004 set out a cost limit for public authorities to comply with requests.   This is currently £450, which is based on a flat rate of £25 per hour. Therefore, if we estimate that the time required to comply with a request would exceed 18 hours, we may choose to refuse the request.

Internal Review

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received to your request for information, you have the right to request an internal review. All reviews are impartial and undertaken by someone more senior than the person who took the original decision. Reviews will usually be completed within 20 working days following the date a request for review is received. In exceptional cases, the time for response may be extended to 40 working days.

Requests for internal review should be clearly marked, and can either be emailed to information.request@ombudsman.wales or sent by post to the following address:

Chief Legal Adviser
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae
Pencoed
Bridgend
CF35 5LJ

If you remain dissatisfied with the findings of the internal review, you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is responsible for ensuring public authorities comply with the FOI and Data Protection Acts.  Their contact details are shown below:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
TEL: 0330 414 6421 (local rate call)
 http://www.ico.org.uk/

Full details of our internal review procedure and the role of the Information Commissioner will also be provided with our response to your request.

Collecting and using your information

Requests for information are logged electronically. This will include personal information about, which you provide with your request (i.e. your name and address). Your personal information will only be used to process your request for information. We keep information request records for 6 years from the end of the financial year in which the request is made and the response sent. The record is then deleted from our electronic system.