The Scottish Information Commissioner - It's Public Knowledge
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Personal Information

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Information about yourself or other people.

access to personal information

Pencil IconHow do I ask? 

 

 

 

You must ask in writing

 

You must make your request in writing, or any other form that can be kept for future use, such as email, fax, audio or video tape.  If you want your FOI rights to apply, you can't ask verbally (for example by telephone or at an office) - unless you are asking for environmental information. 

 

You can ask anyone, from a receptionist to a senior official.  We recommend you send your request to the authority's address for information requests, where it will be received by staff who are used to responding to such requests.  Contact details for individual authorities are available in our "Search for a Scottish public authority" database.

 

You must provide a name and address so that the authority can respond

 

If you ask by email, you must include your name within the body of the email, but you don't have to give your postal address (although it is helpful if you do).

 

You can add other contact information such as a telephone number.  It can help speed up the response if the authority can get in touch with you quickly to check a point.

 

Can I make an anonymous request?

You must give your name.  If you give a false name, the authority does not have to respond, and the Commissioner and the courts would not be able to enforce your rights.

 

You must describe the information you want

 

Make your request as clear as possible.  Focus on the information you really want to see - if your request is too broad, it may be refused because of the cost of responding to it.

 

If you are not sure what information you want, ask the public authority to help you describe what you're looking for.  If the authority doesn't have the information you want, it might be able to tell you where you can get it from, for example from another authority.

 

If you need the information in a particular format, tell the authority (for example, as a summary, or an audio version).  The authority must provide the information in the format you prefer but only as far as is reasonable

 

In deciding what is reasonable, the authority must not discriminate against you if you have a disability.  If you need the information in a language other than English, the authority doesn't generally have to provide it, but it may decide to translate it for you.

 

 Remember:

  • The public authority has a legal duty to help you if you have any difficulties in making your request, or are unsure of what information you want.
  •  You don't have to say that you are using your rights under freedom of information, or given any reason for asking.
  • You don't have to say why you want the information, or what you are using it for (although you can if you want to - as it might help the authority understand what information you want to see).

There's more useful guidance on making requests available on our Tips for Requesters page.

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