Help from the Information Commissioner

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Other information’ held by a public authority

The Freedom of Information Act 2000, which applies to public authorities, amended the Act by creating another category of personal information. This category covers personal information held about you by a public authority that is:

  •  partly organised, such as in a file with someone’s name on it which has been compiled in date order; or
  •  is 'unstructured' material, and is not organised in a file or any other way.

You can request access to partly-organised information using a normal request as described on this Website. If you want access to unstructured information, you will need to describe the information you want so the authority can find it. Although the fee for access to public authority information is £10, the authority can estimate the cost of dealing with a request for unstructured information, and refuse the request if the cost is more than £450 (or £600 if it is central government). You cannot use this category to obtain access to unstructured personnel information held by a public authority. This is so employees of public authorities do not have more rights to access their personal information than employees in the private sector.