Government FoI requests reach record high

The Government received the highest number of requests under the Freedom of Information Act in the first quarter of the year since its introduction in 2005.

Forty-four government bodies, including all 22 state departments, received 12,128 FoI requests between 1 January to 31 March 2011 – an 8 per cent year-on-year increase and 11 per cent higher than the last quarter of 2011.

The Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for compiling the statistics, said the first first quarter figure was the highest reported since the very first quarter of the Act’s implementation in 2005.

Most requests were made to the Ministry of Defence with 957, followed by Transport (898), Work and Pensions (877), Home Office (866) and Justice (847).

The number of requests received by state departments alone (7,783) was up 14 per cent year on year.

Other monitored bodies excluding state departments – such as HM Revenue and Customs and the Office of Fair Trading – received 4,345 requests, which is almost unchanged compared to the first quarter of 2010.

Of these, most were made to the the Health and Safety Executive (1,757) followed by the National Archives (756).

The Health and Safety Executive is now the only monitored body that has received more than 1,000 requests during each quarter since 2005.

The latest FoI figures released last week show that 91 per cent of requests were processed within statutory deadlines or were allowed a deadline extension, down 1 per cent on last year.

Of the ‘resolvable’requests only 54 per cent were granted in full – down from 55 per cent in 2010, while 14 per cent were withheld in part and 25 per cent were withheld in full.

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