Freedom of information

Since 1 January 2005, all requests for information received by a public authority have been answered in accordance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). The only exception will be an individual's request for their own personal data, which must be handled under the terms of the General Data Protection Regulations.

Obtaining information

There are 3 ways to obtain information

  • Using the Publication Schedule - This lists the type of information which the council routinely publishes and where to obtain it from.
  • Using the Council's Open Data page - This page publishes data the Council is frequently asked for and is intended to provide easy access to useful information.

The information you want may already be included in these publications, so please check here first.  If you are not able to find the information you need, you may put your request in writing or online using the freedom of information request form.

Freedom of information request form

Our response to your request

Within 20 working days of your written request, we will:

  • confirm to you whether we hold the information;
  • advise you if a fee will be charged; and
  • provide you with the information (after any relevant fee has been paid) unless an exemption applies.

If we require further clarification on your request, we may contact you. At this point, the clock stops and restarts when you come back to us with further information.

Please note that the 20 days excludes the day we receive the request and bank holidays.

Fees

The Act allows us to charge for answering Freedom of Information requests in the following circumstances:

  • disbursement costs such as printing, photocopying and postage.
  • when estimated staff costs involved locating or compiling the information exceeds £450. Under these circumstances, we can refuse the request on grounds of cost, or charge the applicant £25 per hour for the estimated work.

For disbursement costs, we will charge 10p per sheet for photocopying and printing documents, and recover the cost of postage or any other transmission costs from the applicant. We will not charge if the costs are less than £5.

Exemptions

Some information is protected under 23 exemptions, for example, personal data or commercially sensitive information. Under these circumstances we will not release the information to you and will write to you to explain why.

Further information

If you need further assistance, please contact Freedom of Information at Chichester District Council.

You can also find more detailed guidance on the website of the Information Commissioner .

Complaints

If you are dissatisfied with the response from the council, you may write to the Head of Business Improvement Services to ask for a review of the decision (please contact Freedom of Information). You will receive an acknowledgement of the request within 3 working days and a full response will be provided within 20 working days.  If you are still dissatisfied, you may contact the Information Commissioner.

 

Data protection policy

Chichester District Council manages personal data in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. The Act applies to personal information about living, identifiable, persons.

The collection, holding and use of data is governed by eight principles.

Data protection principles

Chichester District Council manages personal data in accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The Regulations apply to personal information about living, identifiable, persons.

The GDPR outlines six data protection principles that this Council follows when collecting, processing and storing individuals' personal data. The data controller is responsible for complying with the principles.

The Principles are :

1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency

The first principle is relatively self-evident: organisations need to make sure their data collection practices don't break the law and that they aren't hiding anything from data subjects.

The Council has a Register of Processing which sets out why we obtain, hold and use personal information.

2. Purpose limitation

The Council only collects personal data for a specific purpose, clearly state what that purpose is, and only collects data for as long as necessary to complete that purpose.  In almost all cases the Council "basis of processing" is to carry out the public duties of a local authority.

Some Processing is done for archiving purposes in the public interest or for scientific, historical or statistical purposes.

3. Data minimisation

The Council must only process the personal data that they need to achieve its processing purposes. This both improves security and makes it easier for the Council to keep data accurate and up to date.

4. Accuracy

The accuracy of personal data is integral to data protection. The GDPR states that "every reasonable step must be taken" to erase or rectify data that is inaccurate or incomplete.

Individuals have the right to request that inaccurate or incomplete data be erased or rectified within 30 days.

5. Storage limitation

Similarly, organisations need to delete personal data when it's no longer necessary.

The time the Council generally considers that it needs to hold onto data will relate directly to the reason why it is processing it and for each area that is detailed on the processing register.  More detail of this can be seen in the Retention Scheme (below)

6. Integrity and confidentiality

The GDPR states that personal data must be "processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures".

Technological and organisational best practices are constantly changing but the Council will work hard to maintain security of your information. This includes encryption and/or pseudonymising personal data wherever possible, and other options which are suitable and appropriate for the type of information being held.

Data matching

The Audit Commission appoints the auditor to audit the accounts of this council. It is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.

The Audit Commission currently requires Chichester District Council to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. The council is required to provide particular sets of data to the Audit Commission for matching for each exercise, and these are set out in the Audit Commission's guidance, which can be found at the  Audit commission - National Fraud Initiative website.

The use of data by the Audit Commission in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Data matching by the Audit Commission is subject to a Code of Practice. This may be found on the Audit Commission - Code of Data Matching Practice  website.

For further information on the Audit Commission's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see the Audit Commission data matching exercises - Fair Processing Notice web page.

For further information on data matching at this authority, please email your request for information to the Customer Service Centre.

Persons wishing to make an access request regarding personal data held by the council should write to 'The Data Protection Officer' at the council, stating the topic(s) of information required, and enclosing the statutory fee of £10.

For further information, see the website of the Information Commissioner.

Data protection policy - revenues

Chichester District Council manages personal data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2016 and is a public authority as defined within those regulations.

The revenues department refers to - council tax, business rates, housing benefit, council tax reduction and the collection and enforcement of the BID levy. Revenues department related personal data will be processed for the public purpose of the exercise of duties related to the local authority functions of the revenues department, including related processing specifically financial and criminal investigations or any administrative tasks reasonably required to carry out those functions.

Revenues department data will be provided to the Cabinet Office for data matching purposes in accordance with Section 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 as part of the National Fraud Initiative or where otherwise provided for in law.

This data will be used for cross-system and cross-authority comparison for the prevention and detection of fraud.

For more information, please see our data protection policy section, which provides further guidance on your rights and access to the Cabinet Office's National Fraud Initiative web pages, or contact the relevant revenues department on 01243 785166.

The revenues department will share information including personal data with other departments in the council to support the effective carrying out of this work in particular IT, legal and finance departments. The council will also share personal data with partner bodies where statute allows sharing information and personal data with those bodies.

The revenues department will share personal data externally where it is reasonably required to carry out elements of the revenues department's work of the council under a data processing or data sharing agreement including where that processing is required to improve our services to you. Information will also be shared when requests are received by legitimate law enforcement bodies carrying out their own public role.

Data protection policy - benefits

Chichester District Council's benefits department manages personal data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2016 and is a public authority as defined within those regulations.

Chichester District Council, as the data controller, is committed to protecting your privacy and any personal data that you provide in relation to your application, claim or as supporting evidence will be stored securely and used only for this purpose. We will not use your information for any other purpose or give it to anyone else unless it is necessary to establish entitlement or we are required to do so by law.  

This gives you the legal right to put right any information about you which we get wrong. It also means that we must not share details about your claim, except where we need to do so to establish entitlement.  However the law also says that we must protect the public funds we handle and we may share information that is given to us with other organisations that inspect or handle public funds, to prevent and detect fraud. Examples are:

  • The Department for Work and Pensions
  • HM Revenues & Customs
  • The National Audit Office
  • The Cabinet Office.

The National Audit Office appoints an auditor who checks the council's accounts. The Cabinet Office is responsible for the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) which carries out data matching exercises. Data matching is comparing computer records held by one organisation with other computer records held by the same organisation or a different one. This is usually personal information.

Computerised data matching allows us to identify claims and payments that may be fraudulent. A match means that there is an inconsistency between the two sets of records, and identifies the need for this inconsistency to be investigated. The inconsistency may be because of fraud or because of incorrect data, however this would not be known until the matter had been investigated.

The Council has to give information to the NFI for data matching exercises you can find out more about the kind of data required in their guidance at:

The law says that the Audit Commission has legal powers to use data in data matching exercises and that it does not have to get agreement of the people whose details are being matched.

The NFI documents setting out the code of practice for data matching can be found at:

Data sharing with credit reference agencies

We may also share information with a credit reference agency to prevent and detect fraud.  Where the Authority deems it necessary additional checks may be made on a claim, this includes obtaining information from a credit reference agency. This is additional check is carried out via the National Anti-Fraud Network and does not leave a footprint on an individual's credit account. Such checks may be carried out where there is a reasonable level of doubt that the information given on an application or a declaration of a change is correct.      a

Other ways we may use your details

As well as sharing details with the Audit Commission and other organisations that inspect or handle public funds, we may also use our customers' details within the council for

  • Keeping the electoral roll correct
  • Collecting debts owed to the Council (for example Council Tax): and
  • Preventing and detecting fraud and other crime.
Data protection policy - building control

Privacy notice for Building Regulations applications

Building legislation (The Building Act 1984 and The Building Regulations 2010 (as amended)) requires Chichester District Council to keep records of any person that deposits or has an application deposited on their behalf for proposed building work that is subject to the Building Regulations.

Who processes my data?

The information that you provide with the Building Regulations application will be processed by Chichester District Council, which is the data controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act.

What is my data used for?

The information provided including any personal data, will only be used to deal with your Building Regulations application.

Who sees my data?

The Building Regulations applications are closed and as such no personal data is uploaded to the councils website.

We will keep your data after completion of your project.  Your information will not be shared unless there are legal reasons to do so.

Information you provide will only be used for the stated purpose.  You can find further information about the processing of your data on the data protection page.  Individuals have a number of rights under data protection law, including the right to request their information.

Environmental information regulations

The  Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) came into force on 01 January 2005 giving members of the public the right to access environmental  information held by the council.

What information do they cover?

They cover information on the state of the environment, such as:

  • air, water, soil, flora, fauna (including humans), diversity, genetically modified organisms.
  • information on emissions and discharges, noise, energy, radiation, waste and other such substances.
  • measures and activities such as policies, plans, and agreements.
  • reports, cost benefit and economic analyses.
  • the state of human health and safety, contamination of the food chain.
  • cultural sites and built structures (as they may be affected by environmental factors).

Obtaining information

Requests can be made in writing, verbally or online using the Environmental Information Regulations request form.

Environmental Information Regulations request form

Your request must include your name and address and details of the information required.

Our response to your request

Within 20 working days of your request, we will:

  • confirm if we hold the information.
  • advise if a fee will be charged.
  • provide you with the information (after any relevant fee has been paid), unless an exemption applies.

If your request is complex and voluminous, then we can have up to 40 working days to respond.

Exemptions

Some information requested may not be provided by the council as there are some grounds for refusing to disclose environmental information.

Fees

The Regulations permit the council to charge for providing environmental information except in two instances mentioned below:

  • access public registers or lists of environmental information; or,
  • to examine the information (at a place chosen by the council).

We reserve the right to charge for the following activities at a fixed rate of £25 per person engaged per hour, for:

  • determining whether we hold the information requested.
  • locating the information, or a document containing the information.
  • retrieving the information.
  • extracting the information from documents containing it.
  • other costs of making available the information (e.g. supervision of scanning and photographing of documents, postage and photocopying costs).
  • postage and other means of transmission (e.g.CD-Roms) will be charged at cost and photocopying at 10p per A4 sheet.

The council will waive the first £5 of any fees or costs chargeable.

Complaints

If you are dissatisfied with the response from the council, you must write to the Head of Business Improvement Services within 40 days to ask for a review of the decision (please contact Freedom of Information). You will receive an acknowledgement of the request within 3 working days and a full response will be provided within 20 working days.  If you are still dissatisfied, you may contact the Information Commissioner.

Re-use of information regulations

Re-Use of information is defined as: 'The re-use of Council owned information by a third party for a purpose other than the initial purpose for which that information was produced.'

On 1 July 2005 the Reuse of Information Regulations came into effect. The aims of the regulations are to encourage the re-use of public information by third parties and to remove barriers to re-use.

The following documents have been prepared to help with Re-use of information enquiries.

 

Retention guidelines