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Top tips on freedom of information for communications professionals

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) today published a set of top tips on freedom of information for communications professionals working in public authorities.

The top tips, written by the ICO’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Susan Fox, who is a Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Chartered Practitioner, are designed to help communications professionals consider freedom of information as part of their communications strategy.

The tips address the need for communicators to keep on top of requests coming in to their organisation to see if it is worth making the most requested information readily available online. Offering help and advice to journalists making freedom of information requests is also covered.

Written for one of CIPR’s first charterships, Susan Fox’s tips were put together after speaking to communications professionals in a range of public authorities about how freedom of information has changed the way organisations approach PR.

The need for industry-focused top tips is also backed up by the ICO’s latest annual survey results which found that almost 80% of individuals surveyed agreed that being able to access information held by authorities increases public confidence in them. The figures also showed that 75% of

1 individuals and 70% of public authorities surveyed agreed that the Freedom of Information Act increases trust in public authorities.

Susan Fox, Director of Corporate Affairs, said:

"Communications professionals play a key role in an organisation’s reputation management and transparency so it is vital that they have a good grasp of how to manage freedom of information issues. The government’s emphasis on transparency and its recent proposals on extending the scope of bodies covered under the Freedom of Information Act mean that the need to get it right has never carried more weight.

"The tips we’ve published today should serve as a useful checklist to help communications professionals ensure that freedom of information contributes to a good corporate reputation."

If you need more information, please contact the ICO press office on

0303 123 9070 or visit the website at:
www.ico.gov.uk.

Notes to Editors

1. The FOI tips for communications professionals can be found on the ICO’s website at:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/library/Freedom_of_Information/Practical_application/foi_tips_for_communications_professionals.ashx 

2. The ICO’s full annual track research report is available on the ICO website here:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/about_us/research/corporate.aspx

3. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

4. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

5. For more information about the Information Commissioner’s Office subscribe to our e-newsletter at
www.ico.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can find us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ICOnews and LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/information-commissioner%27s-office

6. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides individuals or organisations with the right to request official information held by a public authority. The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) provide access to environmental information. The ICO’s policy on enforcing public access to official information and the powers at its disposal are set out here.

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