Freedom of Information and ‘Line to take’ documents…

10Nov10

The Freedom of Information Act has changed the way we go about investigative journalism, but it’s still difficult to know exactly how to formulate what is one of the most important journalistic tools at our disposal.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in 2007 released internal ‘line to take’ documents, outlining the regular protocol that should be undertaken when approaching a response to an FOI request.

Or, in more formal terms right from the ICO’s mouth;

By way of background, these documents are produced by our Policy Team as internal policy lines on the interpretation and application of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 for the benefit of the FOI Department as a whole. The policy lines are signed off at Assistant Commissioner level, and you will note that in the main they derive from Decision Notices and/or Information Tribunal decisions.

As of August 2010, Whatdotheyknow successfully obtained the most recent collection of ‘line to take’ documents via FOI request (also featured on FOIwiki) to feature on their website.

Now to explain the reason why; there is no better way to know exactly what to write than to know exactly what an organisation will respond to. Essentially, it’s easier to ask the right questions in the right way when you know how the organisation will answer.

A great tool to use to make your FOI requests succinct and unquestionable in the eyes of public authorities.

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