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Issue: 05/02/2020

Media platform launches two year FOI investigation
Global media platform openDemocracy has launched a two-year investigation into the state of Freedom of Information in the UK, after forcing the government to be transparent about Brexit. The group said: "We will be talking to people who use the Freedom of Information Act up and down the country to find out about their experiences. We will be reporting and reflecting on how we can build greater transparency in British public life at this crucial moment - and, of course, continuing to fight for your right to information." The action follows openDemocracy's recent FOI victory against the Department for Exiting the European Union, which recently released documents from an influential lobbyist named Shanker Singham to Brexit ministers and senior civil servants after being compelled to do so by the Information Tribunal.

Campaigners call for FOI reform
Too much of Scotland's Freedom of Information law is not fit for purpose, campaigners say. Members of the Scottish Parliament were recently presented with a new 'traffic light' report recommending sweeping changes to the legislation designed to improve transparency and accountability. The report, from the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland, comes 15 years after the launch of FOI in Scotland. It marks each part of the legislation red, amber or green, and proposes improvements which campaigners say would benefit the public interest.

Scottish charity sector: don't bring us under FOI
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has warned against extension of Scottish Freedom of Information Act, saying that bringing charities that deliver public sector services under its auspices would be a 'disproportionate burden' on those organisations. In its response to the Scottish government's consultation about extending FOI legislation, the SCVO said it had concerns about the 'potential financial and operational implications' for the voluntary sector and the lack of engagement with the sector to date, particularly during the consultation period. The consultation, which closed last month, suggested extending the FOI Act in Scotland to cover organisations that deliver public services.

Editor slams council's 'dismal' FOI record over failure to publish responses

An editor has criticised his local council's 'dismal record' on Freedom of Information responses after publishing revelations about the authority's policy on such requests. The Coventry Observer revealed Coventry City Council Officers are privately choosing which FOI responses not to publish on its website to help 'free up their time', leaving hundreds being hidden from public view. It comes after research revealed the number of FOI responses published by the council on its site had fallen by 79% since 2016. A council spokesperson said, "While the council is not required to publish its FOI responses, we are committed to being open and transparent."

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Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

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Professional and practical Training Courses enable delegates to understand the legal requirements in key areas of compliance.  
The following is a selection of some of PDP's current courses.  
Matt Lewin Cornerstone Barristers
Matt Lewin Cornerstone Barristers
Since the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into force in 2005 we have experienced a fundamental change in the relationship between UK government and its citizens as government information has become more publicly accessible. Greater transparency is also a key policy of the Coalition Government, and in light of the deficit reduction programme there is an ever increasing public interest in how public money is spent. This has led to the publication of a wide range of public sector datasets and proposals to expand the Freedom of Information Act through the Protection of Freedoms Bill. Information Officers are central to these developments and need to be fully aware of the Act and the impact of future changes to it.

This training session is designed to help those who are on the receiving end of requests for information and those who advise and assist them.

This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Manchester       Monday, 24th February 2020
  • Bristol               Monday, 9th March 2020
  • Belfast              Monday, 23rd March 2020
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 
FOI Practical Training - Level 2 (Applying the Exemptions)
Liz Fitzsimons, Eversheds
Liz Fitsimons

Public sector bodies must make daily decisions on how to respond to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and how to apply the exemptions in the Act. Those decisions are increasingly reviewed and, in many cases, overturned by the Information Commissioner, the Information Tribunal and the Courts. As case law develops and changes, public authorities need to ensure that they understand when the exemptions can be applied, and what they have to demonstrate to apply them correctly.

This training session considers in detail the practical application of the main FOI exemptions.

A discount is available for delegates booking both FOI Level 1 and FOI Level 2.

This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Manchester       Tuesday, 25th February 2020
  • Bristol               Tuesday, 10th March 2020
  • Belfast              Tuesday, 24th March 2020
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 
Damien Welfare, Cornerstone Barristers
Damien Welfare
The competing demands of Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation in the UK present challenges for all public bodies involved in collecting, holding and disclosing personal information. Understanding the interface between Freedom of Information laws (including the Environmental Information Regulations 2004) and the General Data Protection Regulation is essential for all those involved with information management in the public sector.

This session, which is designed for people who already work with FOI issues, explains the key principles underlying the differences between FOI and data protection laws, including when personal data should and should not be released in response to subject access requests and FOI/EIR requests. Delegates who do not have an existing understanding of the basics of FOI law are recommended to attend FOI Level 1 before attending this session.

The session includes:
  • knowing whether a request should be dealt with under the DPA or FOI law (or EIR)
  • the latest thinking on determining what is personal data
  • the interpretation and practical application of the personal data exemption
  • the legal principles governing access to third party personal information
  • applying relevant exemptions
  • disclosing staff information to outside third parties
  • analysing the practical implications of key decisions of the Commissioner and Information Rights Tribunal
  • disclosing third party data of professionals in the fields of health, education and social work
This session enables delegates to understand how to manage requests for information, and to achieve best practice within their organisation.

This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Manchester      Wednesday, 26th February 2020
  • Bristol              Wednesday, 11th March 2020
  • Belfast             Wednesday, 25th March 2020
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 
Damien Welfare_ Cornerstone Barristers 
Damien Welfare Cornerstone Barristers 
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 cover a wide range of information which has often been assumed to fall under the Freedom of Information Act.

The scope of EIR is not restricted just to "green" subjects or information, but extends to land use, planning, transport, waste, energy, agriculture, housing development, public nuisance, and aspects of public health, food safety, buildings maintenance and cultural sites.

Public authorities and their advisors, and those contracting with the public sector or carrying out public functions, need to understand the scope of the Regulations in order to handle information requests correctly. This session explains the meaning and scope of the EIR. It examines in detail the boundary with FOI, based on decisions of the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal and on guidance from DEFRA; including the potential role of a remoteness test in limiting the range of information covered. It analyses the "exceptions" and how to approach the public interest test.

The course equips practitioners to recognise and handle practical issues arising under the Regulations with confidence, and to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with information requests under the wrong regime. Topics covered include:
  • definition and scope of environmental information
  • application in the public and private sectors
  • differences between EIR and FOI
  • EIR exceptions, and how they compare with FOI exemptions
  • requests involving personal data
  • decisions of the Information Commissioner and Tribunal
  • charging
  • best practice: EIR requests and the duty to disseminate information
The session enables delegates to handle Environmental Information with confidence.
This training course can be used as credit towards gaining the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information

Upcoming dates for this training course are:
  • Manchester        Thursday, 27th February 2020
  • Bristol                Thursday, 12th March 2020
  • Belfast                Thursday, 26th March 2020
For further information and to make a booking,
  1. Visit PDP's website 
  2. Telephone PDP at +44 (0)207 014 3399
  3. Download our PDF Training Catalogue 

Four-day Programme includes intensive training sessions and an examination
Upcoming intensive training in Manchester, Bristol, Belfast & London 
The four day Programme provides candidates with a solid knowledge of Freedom of Information law (and the Environmental Information Regulations), as well as an understanding of the practical implications for organisations of the legal requirements, including how to manage an FOI request from inception to completion

Highly practical training
session for Freedom of Information Professionals

This course, which applies to all parts of the UK analyses the role and duties of the Freedom of Information Officer in a practical context and provides delegates with the information that they need to become more effective and efficient.
Introductory and Intermediate Level sessions taking place in London in March 
Records Management Levels 1 & 2 
Effective record-keeping is a
crucial part of FOI Compliance.
Records Management Level 1 and Level 2 have been designed to ensure FOI Professionals have the skills they require for their roles. 
The latest edition (Volume 16, Issue 3), features the following articles:
Expert comment

FOIMan's Festive FOI

The Cayman
Islands' Freedom of
Information Law

Recent decisions of the
Information Commissioner
and Tribunals

For more information, please visit PDP Journals

PDP 2020 Training Catalogue  
Download our latest  
Training Catalogue for a comprehensive overview of 2020 training courses and qualifications for those working in Data Protection and Information Management

Flexible training options allow you to train alongside other commitments   
"I am very pleased to have achieved the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information. The programme provides excellent knowledge and understanding on the practical applications of handling requests for information"
Louise Smith
Financial Ombudsman Service

"A very worthwhile qualification which I wholeheartedly recommend to colleagues"
Barbara Tyldesley
The Environment Agency

"I am so pleased to have passed the Practitioner Certificate in FOI. The 4 day course was excellent and I am now confident in my role as FOI Officer for Social Services. The course has helped me develop my skills and knowledge of FOI/EIR and DP and I would encourage anyone working in this area to attend."
Rachael Strand
Flintshire County Council

"The Practitioner Certificate in FOI was an excellent opportunity to receive specialised training and gain a recognised qualification. In particular, I found the instructors to be both knowledgeable and engaging. As a regulator in an overseas territory, I was easily able to translate the learning into practice. I have and do encourage other FOI practitioners to take advantage of this training programme."
Clara Smith
Information Commissioner's Office (Grand Cayman)

"I am delighted to have passed my examination, achieving this qualification and attending the courses have been a very positive experience which have boosted my confidence and enthusiasm for this subject. I found the courses very informative and the course handout binders are an excellent reference tool which is very relevant to the workplace."

Julie Johnson
Durham County Council

"I'm delighted to have passed the exam; it was hard work preparing for an exam, having not sat one for over 10 years, but the course materials really helped structure my revision. Passing has increased my confidence in dealing with the Act which will be of benefit to myself as well as my organisation."

Heledd Thomas
Comisiynydd y Gymraeg

"I found this to be a comprehensive course, which was well structured to be relevant and of interest to everyone from FOI beginners to more seasoned practitioners. The course tutors were very knowledgeable and clearly very interested in their respective topic areas, and the course was similarly detailed and well-taught."
Mark Reynolds

"I'm thrilled to have gained this qualification. FOI can be a complicated area to understand and apply, but the tutors were excellent in bringing it to life in an interesting way."
Angela Sanderson
Big Lottery Fund

"The Practitioner's Certificate has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to undertake my role. I found the courses well presented and easy to follow. The case studies are particularly useful, as they give an insight into different scenarios that one may experience. I would recommend PDP to anyone wanting to gain this qualification."
Kim Starbuck
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham


"Both the thought provoking training and materials as well as passing the exam will help to ensure we provide a prompt quality service when dealing with information requests particularly as those involving planning can raise complex issues"
John Pierce
The Department for Communities and Local Government


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