In order to conduct my data research I rely on a number of different sources. Some of the data is already publicly available, some I gather myself and some comes from asking organisations to make available information that has not previously been published. The BFI is one such source in this third category.
In the UK, public bodies have a duty to share certain information with the public, under Freedom of Information (FOI) rules. In the past year, I have been exploring how the BFI has a complicated relationship with FOI and today I’m pleased to share some of the outcomes.
- The BFI is not officially subject to FOI requests but is voluntarily answering public requests for information under FOI rules
- Between 1st April 2011 and 31st March 2014, 116 FOI requests were made to the BFI
- 88% of requests for information were answered
- 5% of requests were declined as they related to “personal information” and 3% were declined as they related to “sensitive information”
- The most popular topics were the UK Film Council, footage requests, film funding and Doctor Who.
What is FOI?
The legal framework behind governmental freedom of information in the UK is quite new. It only came into force in 2005 and comprises two laws: The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. (The second of which is often given the Hamlet treatment of being referred to simply as “The Scottish Act”).
Officially these Acts…
…make provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them and to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Public Records Act 1958; and for connected purposes.
In short, the public have a right of access to information held by public bodies. These include public authorities, publicly owned companies and designated bodies performing public functions. Included are the national and regional parliaments, councils, the NHS, schools, universities and even the police and the army.