Who can I request information from?

WhatDoTheyKnow covers requests to 46,571 authorities, including:

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Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org

What information has been released?

WhatDoTheyKnow users have made 1,072,715 requests, including:

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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.

By law requests have to be answered promptly and within 20 working days.

In most cases information should be released, but various exemptions allow authorities to withhold information.

Learn more about the Freedom of Information act →

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 over one million 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).

Learn more about WhatDoTheyKnow. Want to know something? Start your own request →

Latest news and campaigns

New in Alaveteli: importing & presenting blog posts

New functionality on our Alaveteli FOI platform allows you to highlight blog posts and case studies on the homepage.

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Parents for Inclusive Education are on a mission — with the help of FOI

Parents for Inclusive Education NI have used FOI requests to every primary school, to gather information about organisation providing religious information to pupils. The aim? Better informed parents.

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Statement on the proposed ICO fine to PSNI

The ICO have today announced that they intend to fine the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for their accidental release of staff’s personal information in August 2023. This data...

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Creating datasets from FOI data

Responses obtained from a widespread FOI project can be difficult to analyse, until they are sorted into neat datasets. This allows you to make valid comparisons, pull out accurate statistics...

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Our videos about Freedom of Information

Workshop: What can you do with FOI?

Workshop: What can you do with FOI?

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Getting the most from FOI

Getting the most from FOI

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Creating datasets from FOI data

Creating datasets from FOI data

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Our Freedom of Information Research

Cover for: Exploring information about Freedom of Information in the UK

Exploring information about Freedom of Information in the UK

Explore FOI statistics for UK central government and Scotland.

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Cover for: Network Rail: how accounting definitions of control can expand FOI/EIR coverage 

Network Rail: how accounting definitions of control can expand FOI/EIR coverage 

Appealing to the Court of Accountants.

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Cover for: FOI and appeals to the regulator

FOI and appeals to the regulator

How do appeals to ICO and OSIC vary in outcome and time taken?

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Cover for: Using Access to Information to support social change

Using Access to Information to support social change

A look at how organisations which support marginalised communities use and request information from public bodies, what the information unlocks and what mySociety can do to better support this use of access to information.

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Cover for: What are environmental information requests and how do they differ in Scotland?

What are environmental information requests and how do they differ in Scotland?

Understanding what makes Environmental Information special in Freedom of Information and the (minor) differences in how this is interpreted in Scotland.

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Cover for: Prioritising FOI complaints

Prioritising FOI complaints

Draft response to ICO consultation on how to prioritise FOI complaints

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