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Freedom of Information - advice

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been in force since 1 January 2005 and all councils in Dorset are committed to providing the public with as much information as possible.

This page sets out the councils' requirements under the legislation.

Can I see all information held by the council?

You can ask to see any information that the council holds, however some information may be subject to exemptions. There are 23 exemptions under the FOIA, some are absolute - meaning that no information can be released, and others are conditional - which means that the disclosure of the information should be weighed against the public interest test. If you would like to find out more information about the exemptions please view the Information Commissioners Office (opens in a new window)

Individuals have the right to access information held about themselves under the Data Protection Act.

What information is already available?

Under Section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act every public authority is obliged to have in place a publication scheme. The scheme commits us to proactively publish information and make it accessible to members of the public. See our Guide to published information for details of the types of information we make available.

Find out more about information we publish as part of our commitment to transparency.

How do I make an FOI request?

Please note there is a statutory time limit of 20 working days for requests to be answered. 

See the contact details to email your request

Emailed requests are preferable as they save time and money for both parties.  However, postal addresses are provided within the contact details if you prefer.  If you wish, you may use the Information Request Form but this is not a requirement. 

Please try and be as specific as possible when requesting information and include the following information in writing:

  • Contact name
  • Contact email address (or postal address if you do not have email)
  • The information you seek including time periods where applicable
  • The format of the information that you would prefer

Please be aware that the Dorset County Council and the District/Borough Councils in Dorset are responsible for different functions. See an overview of the functions carried out by each (pdf, 351kb) (opens in a new window).

If you request environmental information, this may be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 rather than the Freedom of Information Act.  Either way, your request will be answered within 20 working days of the authority receiving the request.

Find out more about making a request from the Information Commissioner's Office (opens in a new window)


To view disclosures by Dorset County Council please view the Disclosure Log 2016 to 2017 (pdf, 253kb) (opens in a new window). If you wish to see previous disclosures contact the FOI Team at

Response rates

To view the  response rates (pdf, 125kb) (opens in a new window) for Purbeck District Council.

Will there be a cost?

The majority of requests are free however there may be charges if the request takes over 18 hours work to compile or for photocopying charges over £5. For more information on our fees policy please view the link on the left. If you want to use the information for commercial gain please view the  Public Sector Information (opens in a new window) (PSI) regulations.

How do I appeal or make a complaint?

If you are not happy with the way your freedom of information request has been dealt with, you can ask the relevant council in writing to carry out an internal review.  If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can complain to the Information Commissioner (opens in a new window).

  • Freedom of information logo Access to information - fees policy

    This policy is concerned with the levying of fees and charges in relation to requests for access to information received by the county council - January 2005.

  • Tree Environmental Information Regulations 2004

    The Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) allow access to broad range of information subject to exceptions and came into force on 1 January 2005.

  • Information logo The re-use of public sector information (PSI)

    Regulations governing the re-use of public sector information first came into force on 1 July 2005. We are required to make information available for re-use, give permission for that re-use, and in some circumstances, we can charge for the information.

  • iStock - Paperwork Guide to published information

    The Information Commissioner's Office has prepared a 'Model Publication Scheme' to be adopted by all public authorities. We have adopted the scheme and have set out below the types of information we make available.

  • Green phone iconContact details

    Find contact details for Freedom of Information officers.

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