Who can I request information from?
WhatDoTheyKnow covers requests to 46,353 authorities, including:
- Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 3809 requests
- Kent County Council 2743 requests
- British Broadcasting Corporation 4288 requests
- Department for Work and Pensions 13567 requests
- Ministry of Defence 8043 requests
What information has been released?
WhatDoTheyKnow users have made 980,442 requests, including:
University College London answered a request about English Q300 offer stats by home and international applicants
about 3 hours ago
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust answered a request about Off-Framework Usage in the Past 12 Months’
about 4 hours ago
University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust answered a request about Respiratory Diagnostic Equipment
23 minutes ago
What is Freedom of Information?
Make a request for information to a UK public authority.
By law, they have to respond.
The Freedom of Information Act, also known as FOI gives you the right to request recorded information from public authorities.
As well as documents and emails, it also covers things like spreadsheets, presentations, maps, videos and photographs.
How do I use Freedom of Information?
From coach drop off points to national borders; modern slavery to council sell-offs, Freedom of Information is a tool that everyone can use. Individual or community group; journalist or campaigner. National or local; every day or now and then. Here are just a few of the ways that it can help…
🔍 Find the evidence: Survey responses, research reports and board papers can help you to uncover the truth behind decisions and public statements.
⚖️ Compare and contrast: Compare the situation in your local area with what’s happening in other parts of the country and highlight disparities or similarities.
💰 Follow the money: Contracts, invoices and budget information let you see where public money goes, ensuring greater accountability for how funds are allocated and spent.
🧩 Fill in the gaps: You can ask a group of authorities to build or extract a dataset that didn't exist. This can fill knowledge gaps and improve public understanding of specific issues.
🤔 Understand why: Meeting minutes, policy papers and internal correspondence can help you to understand why important decisions were taken, and who is accountable for those decisions.
☀️ Promote openness: Asking for datasets can help to show that there is public demand to see it, which might persuade the authority to publish it themselves without needing to be asked.
Read our case studies for some great examples of how others have put these ideas to use.
How does WhatDoTheyKnow help?
🔀 Find the right authority: A database of 46,000+ public bodies, kept up to date by a team of staff and volunteers.
🗂️ Public archive: A permanent, searchable, public record of hundreds of thousands of information requests and responses.
✍️ Write your request: Inline guidance and a collection of help pages to help write your request.
🤖 Automate bureaucracy: Built in assistance and reminders to manage your request from submission to completion.
🏟️ Correspond in public: Requests and responses are automatically published online with proof of delivery to hold authorities accountable to respond.
🛑 Refusal advice: Encouragement, support, guidance and snippets to help challenge refusals at internal review, regulator appeal and tribunal(soon).
Latest news and campaigns
ICO advisory note on publishing spreadsheets
Following the PSNI and other recent data breaches, the ICO has issued guidance to public authorities. This guidance suggests a temporary stop on publishing Excel-style spreadsheets in response to FOI...Read post
CE UK and mySociety are using people power and Freedom of Information to bring transparency to local climate action
A story in this week’s Financial Times [paywalled] has brought the EPC ratings of council-owned properties into the public conversation. This story was based on data obtained through FOI requests...Read post
PSNI data breach
On the afternoon of Tuesday 8 August 2023, we were contacted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) with a request to remove a response that they had made...Read post
As time goes by
By law, a public authority usually has to respond to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 promptly, and within 20 working days. However, there are instances...Read post
Our Freedom of Information Research
How many people use Freedom of Information? The numbers blog post
More details on our FOI polling, and how it compares with other polling and estimates of FOI use.Read article
mySociety response to “Call for Evidence: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”
Response to Ministry of Justice consultationRead article
FOI Reform in Scotland
Response to consultation on Private Members BillRead article
Exploring information about Freedom of Information in the UK
Explore FOI statistics for UK central government and Scotland.Read article
Prioritising FOI complaints
Draft response to ICO consultation on how to prioritise FOI complaintsRead article
Network Rail: how accounting definitions of control can expand FOI/EIR coverage
Appealing to the Court of Accountants.Read article