BBSRC and Freedom of Information
Commitment to information access
BBSRC is committed to openness and transparency in the conduct of its operations and to the sharing of information with stakeholders.
BBSRC fully supports the aims and objectives of freedom of information and is committed to making information available wherever feasible.
- proactively publish and release information: through its Publication Scheme for generally available information and, wherever possible, in response to specific questions;
- help individuals to exercise their rights of access to their personal data: as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998;
- deal with requests for information in a timely manner: BBSRC will treat all requests fairly and without prejudice taking into account the public interest in making accurate and timely information available wherever possible;
- give clear explanations of decisions if information cannot be published or released;
- support the right to appeal: if dissatisfied with the response to a request, individuals should follow BBSRC’s procedures on how to complain.
Information access policies
This statement applies to all information held in BBSRC Office (i.e. all the information created, received and maintained by staff of BBSRC Office in the course of their work).
Our Information and Records Management Policy
We aim to deliver quality business information to support timely and effective decision making for planning, directing, controlling and reporting on its activities forming the corporate memory and enabling delivery of our strategic objectives. It will create the environment where:
- information is properly created, managed and made accessible during its lifetime
- information is only held whilst it holds value for BBSRC and is appropriately disposed of once it ceases to be an asset
- information is shared, well defined, and publicised
- the quality of the information is fit for purpose, is accurate, up to date, relevant and complete
- all staff understand and carry out their responsibilities towards the management of information
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There are three pieces of information access legislation that apply to BBSRC. These are the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which provides a general right of access to information held by public authorities; the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 which provide a similar right of access but specific to environmental information; and the Data Protection Act 1998 which ensures organisations store and process personal data in the appropriate manner.
Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 received Royal Assent on 30 November 2000 . It establishes a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exceptions to that right, and places a number of obligations on public authorities. The Act applies to a large number of public authorities, including Government Departments and Non Departmental Public Bodies such as BBSRC. Since January 2005 you are entitled, on making a request for information in writing to the Council (unless the information falls under one of the specific exemptions of the Act) to:
- be informed in writing by the Council whether it holds information of the description specified in your request; and
- have that information communicated to you, if that is the case.
The Act provides a time limit for dealing with a request for information - that is, within 20 working days.
A fee may be charged for processing requests for information under the Act.
Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (the Regulations) are closely linked to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Environmental information is interpreted very broadly and includes the state of elements of the environment, the state of human health and safety, conditions of human life, the food chain, cultural sites and built, and substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste affecting or likely to affect the state of the elements. Information relating to environmental information is considered exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, and can therefore be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations.
Requests for information normally need to be processed within 20 working days, although this may be extended to 40 working days for complex or high volume requests.
Data Protection Act 1998
You have a statutory right of access (certain exemptions apply) to personal data about yourself under the Data Protection Act 1998. The right of access here is to personal data held on computer or on structured manual files, and you are entitled to be informed whether any personal data concerning yourself is being held by the "data controller" i.e. BBSRC, and if so:
- to be given a description of the data in question;
- to be told for what purposes the data are processed;
- to be told of the recipients or classes of recipients to whom the data are, or may be, disclosed.
You are also entitled to be given a copy of the information with any unintelligible terms explained and to be given any information available to the Council as to the source of the data. The Freedom of Information Act extends this right to access to personal data held on any type of file, with effect from 1 January 2005.
If you wish to apply for access to your personal data, known as a "subject access request", you should contact BBSRC in writing.
A request for access to personal data must be dealt with promptly and, in any event, within 40 working days of receipt of the request.
How do I go about getting information from BBSRC?
BBSRC already makes information widely available for example through publications, public events and the website. Details of research supported through BBSRC grant funding are provided through our awards database. Other obtainable information is also listed in the our Publication Scheme.
If you are still unable to find the information that you are after, you will need to contact us by e-mail or letter. This can be done via the contact details below.
When asking for information you will need to provide us with the following details:
- What information you are looking for: you need to provide as much detail as possible to help us identify what information we have that is relevant to your request
- Your contact details: we will respond back to you in writing and will therefore need your name and either your postal address or e-mail address. It would also be helpful to have a telephone number for you, so that we can contact you promptly if we have any queries concerning your request
A request template is available in the Downloads section of this page if you wish to print this out and send it to us.
What if I want to make a complaint?
If you have a complaint as to how BBSRC has handled a request for information, or anything relating to Freedom of Information, please refer to the BBSRC Complaints Procedure.
You should also be advised that you have the option of complaining to the Information Commissioner if you are still not satisfied with the outcome of an appeal submitted to BBSRC.