Northern Ireland Tourist Board

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Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (2000) gives you the right to ask us for all the recorded information we have on any subject. Anyone can request information; there is no restriction on your age or background. You can also ask for information about yourself, this is handled under the Data Protection Act (2018).

Making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request:

You can contact us directly by letter or e-mail to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request:

Corporate Information Officer
Tourism Northern Ireland
Linum Chambers
Bedford Square, Bedford Street
BELFAST
BT2 7ES
E-mail: foi@tourismni.com

When making your request, you should include:

• Your name;
• An address where you can be contacted;
• A detailed description of the recorded information you want; and
• The format you want the information in.

You can ask for the information in a number of different formats. This could be paper or electronic copies of any original documents, or alternative formats like large print, audio format or Braille.

Depending on the nature of your request, you can ask for all the information or just a summary.

If you plan to reproduce the information you receive, make sure you check the copyright status of it first.

(i) Most requests are free but you might be asked to pay a small amount for photocopies or postage. You will be told by us if you have to pay anything.

You should receive the information within 20 working days. If we need more time, we will contact you and tell you when you can expect the information.

Find out more about accessing information from a public body.

Request for Information Form:

If your request is turned down:

Some sensitive information might not be available to members of the public. If this is the case, we must tell you why we have withheld some or all of the information you requested.

Whilst the Freedom of Information Act (2000) creates a right to request information it also creates a number of exemptions from that right, in recognition that certain types of information may need to be protected from disclosure. This means that we may withhold some information requested. Exemptions fall into two categories, absolute and qualified.

What exemptions are there?

Some exemptions apply only to a particular category or class of information, such as information held for criminal investigations or relating to correspondence with the royal family. These are called class-based exemptions.

Some exemptions require us to judge whether disclosure may cause a specific type of harm, for instance, endangering health and safety, prejudicing law enforcement, or prejudicing someone’s commercial interests. These are called prejudice-based exemptions.

This distinction between ‘class-based’ and ‘prejudice-based’ is not in the wording of the Act but many people find it a useful way of thinking about the exemptions.

Where an exemption is qualified, Tourism NI must also decide whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure when considering whether or not to apply the exemption. This is known as the Public Interest Test.

Where information has been withheld we will inform you which exemptions have been applied and why, unless to give this information would in itself reveal the exempt information.

The exemptions can be found in Part II of the Act, at sections 21 to 44:

Part II Exempt information:

• 21. Information accessible to applicant by other means
• 22. Information intended for future publication
• 23. Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters
• 24. National security
• 25. Certificates under ss. 23 and 24: supplementary provisions
• 26. Defence
• 27. International relations
• 28. Relations within the United Kingdom
• 29. The economy
• 30. Investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities
• 31. Law enforcement
• 32. Court records, etc.
• 33. Audit functions
• 34. Parliamentary privilege
• 35. Formulation of government policy, etc.
• 36. Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs
• 37. Communications with Her Majesty, etc. and honours
• 38. Health and safety
• 39. Environmental information
• 40. Personal information
• 41. Information provided in confidence
• 42. Legal professional privilege
• 43. Commercial interests
• 44. Prohibitions on disclosure

Disproportionate Cost:

We can turn down your request if we think it will cost us more than £450.00 to deal with your request.

We might then ask you to be more specific so we can provide the information you are looking for.

Internal Review:

If we do not provide you with the information you request, you should first contact us and ask us to review our decision.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO):

If you are still not satisfied, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) can help you understand what the Data Protection Act (1998), Freedom of Information Act (2000) and related issues mean to you. It can advise you on how to protect your personal information and how to gain access to official records.

If you think an organisation has failed to abide by the legislation the ICO regulates, you may be able to get help. You can find out how to make a complaint and more on the ICO website.

Data Protection Act (2018):

The Data Protection Act (2018) controls how we use your personal information. Everyone who collects data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’.

We must make sure the information is:

• Used fairly and lawfully;
• Used for limited, specifically stated purposes;
• Used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive;
• Accurate;
• Kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary;
• Kept safe and secure; and
• Not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection.

There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information, such as:

• Ethnic background;
• Political opinions;
• Religious beliefs;
• Health;
• Sexual health; and
• Criminal records.

Find out what data an organisation has about you:

The Data Protection Act (2018) gives you the right to find out what information we store about you.

You can write to us and ask for a copy of the information we hold about you:

Data Protection Officer
Tourism Northern Ireland
Linum Chambers
Bedford Square, Bedford Street
BELFAST
BT2 7ES
E-mail: dpo@tourismni.com

We are legally required to provide you with a copy of the information we hold about you – If you request it.

We may charge you for providing the information. The cost is usually no more than £10.00 but it can be more if there is a lot of information or if it is held in manual (paper) records.

Find out how to access your personal information.

Withheld information:

There are some situations when we are allowed to withhold information, for example if the information is about:

• The prevention, detection or investigation of a crime;
• National security or the armed forces;
• The assessment or collection of tax; and
• Judicial or ministerial appointments.

We do not have to say why we are withholding information.

Worried about your data:

If you think your data has been misused or that we have not kept it secure, you should contact us and tell us:

Data Protection Officer
Tourism Northern Ireland
Linum Chambers
Bedford Square, Bedford Street
BELFAST
BT2 7ES
E-mail: dpo@tourismni.com

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO):

If you are unhappy with our response or if you need any advice you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO can investigate your claim and take action against anyone who has misused personal data. You can also visit their website for information on how to make a data protection complaint.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) can help you understand what the Data Protection Act (1998), Freedom of Information Act (2000) and related issues mean to you. It can advise you on how to protect your personal information and how to gain access to official records.

Publication Scheme

In brief: As well as responding to requests for information, we must publish information proactively. The Freedom of Information Act (2000) requires every public authority to have a publication scheme, approved by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and to publish information covered by the scheme.

The scheme sets out our commitment to make certain classes of information routinely available, such as policies and procedures, minutes of meetings, annual reports and financial information.

To help us do this the ICO has developed a model publication scheme.

The information we release in accordance with the publication scheme represents the minimum we must disclose. If you want information not listed in the scheme, you can still ask us for it.

What is the model publication scheme?

The model publication scheme is a short document (model publication scheme) setting out our high-level commitment to proactively publish information. It is suitable for all sectors and consists of seven commitments and seven classes of information.

The model publication scheme commits us to publish certain classes of information. It also specifies how we should make the information available, what we can charge, and what we need to tell members of the public about the scheme.

What if we don’t have all the information that the model publication scheme covers?

The Freedom of Information Act (2000) only covers information we hold. It does not require us to create new information or to record information we do not need for our own business purposes.

In our guide to information, we list only the information we hold and must publish.

Can we refuse to publish information?

We have listed any information we hold that falls within the classes in our guide to information unless:

• It is in draft form;
• We have archived it or it is difficult to access;
• It is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (2000); or
• Part of the document is exempt from disclosure and it would not be practical to publish the information in a redacted (edited) form. The ICO would normally expect us to publish redacted minutes of meetings, but they accept it is unreasonable to expect us to routinely produce edited versions of other documents.

Why must we publish information, rather than simply responding to requests?

The Freedom of Information Act (2000) is designed to increase transparency. Members of the public should be able to routinely access information that is in the public interest and is safe to disclose. Also, without the publication scheme, members of the public may not know what information we have available.

The Publication Scheme covers information we have already decided we can give out. You should be able to access this information directly on the web, or receive it promptly and automatically whenever you ask for it.

Does all the information have to be on our website?

No, but our website is the easiest way for most people to access the information and will reduce our workload. The scheme recommends that information should be on a website wherever possible. However, some information may not suitable for uploading to a website, such as information that is held only in hard copy or very large files.

Where information is not available online, we must still list the information in our Guide to Information and give contact details so you can make a request to see it. We will provide this promptly on request. We will also make information available in this way for people who lack access to the internet.

Some information may be available to view in person only, but this will be reserved for those exceptional circumstances where it is the only practicable option. For example, a large or fragile historical map may be difficult to copy. We will provide contact details and promptly arrange an appointment for you to view the information you have asked for.

The ICO recommends that we give the contact details of post holders who are responsible for specific types or pieces of information because they can easily access that information in their normal work and answer any questions about it. Also, making defined post holders responsible for specific pieces of information helps keep the information we publish up to date.

How much can we charge for information?

The Freedom of Information Act (2000) does not specify how much we can charge for information published in accordance with a publication scheme (this is different from the rule for information released in response to a request). However, we must publish a list of charges indicating when we will charge and how much. We will not be able to charge if we have not indicated this in advance:

Schedule of Fees

The ICO model publication scheme requires any fee to be justified, transparent and kept to a minimum. As a general rule, we can only make the following charges:

• For communicating the information, such as photocopying and postage. ICO do not consider it reasonable to charge for providing information online;
• Fees permitted by other legislation; and
• For information produced commercially, for example, a book, map or similar publication that we intend to sell and would not otherwise have produced.

Schedule of fees

Guide to Information:

Under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), it is the duty of every public authority to adopt and maintain a Publication Scheme. Publication Schemes facilitate the proactive release of information and play a crucial role in supporting and providing greater openness and transparency across the public sector.

In line with Section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) the Information Commissioner approved a new model publication scheme to be adopted by all public authorities and effective from 1 January 2009. Tourism Northern Ireland adopted the model scheme in its entirety on 1 January 2009.

Guide to information

For further information please contact:
E-mail: foi@tourismni.com