Freedom of Information (FOI)
The Freedom of Information Act is about making information available to the public to increase accountability and transparency in the decisions we make and about the services we provide.
The Act places two main duties on us:
- To adopt and maintain a publication and retention scheme
- To deal with individual requests for information
Our publication and retention scheme (‘the scheme’) organises all of the service’s information into 13 distinct classes, each of which are based on the key functions performed and undertaken by us.
Each class of information is further organised into a series of sub-classes so as to aid the identification and categorisation of the numerous types of information that are held. Against each of these is the period of time for which the information will be held before it is deleted.
The scheme also identifies what information may be requested under a ‘freedom of information request’ or a ‘subject access request’ and also the types of information that will be withheld because they are sensitive (e.g. Channel Tunnel related).
Kent Fire and Rescue Service will demonstrate and deliver, by words and action, commitment to openness and accountability and to servicing the public's general right of access to information held by us.
Making a request for information
We already make a lot of information available, so first check our website or send your request in writing by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In a letter to Information Officer, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, The Godlands, Straw Mill Hill, Tovil, Maidstone ME15 6XB
Your request must include:
- Your name
- Your address or email address
- A description of the information you wish to obtain
- Any preferences for the format for receiving the information
When we get a request for information, we have to respond promptly within 20 working days. We will consider your request, and let you know if we can provide the information you requested, or explain why we can't. Most information will be made available by email or post. If you want to receive information in a particular way or format, then please contact us.
Subject access requests (SARs)
A subject access request, or SAR, is a written request to a company or organisation asking for access to the personal information it holds about you. Making a SAR is a legal right everyone in the UK has, that can be exercised at any point for free.
As an organisation that is funded by the public, and strives to be transparent, Kent Fire and Rescue Service welcomes SAR requests. Your request will be acknowledged, and processed as rapidly as possible, and usually within 20 working days. Where it is not possible to turn around your request within 20 working days, we will keep you up to date with progress. In any event, all requests will be processed within three months and you will be kept up to date on progress in processing their request.
SARs will only be accepted in writing, by email, letter or by social media. Verbal requests will be transcribed and confirmed with you. Requests made by social media will be accepted but will require a method of communication (email, letter) agreed with you, as in order to protect people’s identities we will not place correspondence in the public domain. A free template letter is available on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website to make a subject access request.
We advise that you send any SAR by recorded delivery or by email, and keep a copy of it along with any other related correspondence. As with other information requests, please send your SAR in writing by email to email@example.com or in a letter to: Information Officer, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, The Godlands, Straw Mill Hill, Tovil, Maidstone ME15 6XB
When information may be withheld
The Freedom of Information Act sets out exemptions which, in some circumstances, allow us to withhold requested information. If we decide we want to rely on an exemption so that we can withhold information you have requested, we will tell you which exemption has been applied and explain the reason why it is applicable.
Charging for information
Some information is already available via our publication scheme, but there may be some information that you might need to pay for. We will aim to give you an idea of the cost as quickly as possible, requesting payment of the fee. The information you have requested will only be provided to you once the full fee is received (and if by cheque, once the cheque has cleared).
We reserve the right to refuse to respond to a request for information where the costs will exceed £450. If we decide to do this you will be informed and we will give you the reason for this decision. Generally speaking, we may refuse to respond to a request for information where the cost of doing so would be disproportionate or where there is some other means available to the applicant to access the information. Where we estimate that the limit will be exceeded we are not obliged to comply with the request and will inform the applicant by way of a Refusal Notice.
As part of the duty to provide advice and assistance to applicants, we should consider explaining what, if any, information could be provided within the cost limit and advise the applicant that they should consider narrowing down their request.
We may be willing to provide the information even where the cost exceeds the limit if the applicant is willing to pay the full costs in dealing with the request.
Please note that where a request is dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, we will not refuse to respond to the request on the basis of costs.
Under the Environmental Information Regulations, requests can also be made verbally.
Information owned by another organisation
We hold some information which we may not own or have responsibility for. In this case, where reasonably practical, we will aim to consult the owners of the information before we decide whether or not we are able to disclose the information.
When we receive a request for information that we do not hold or own, we will help you, as far as reasonable, to transfer your request to the relevant organisation. If we transfer your request, we'll ask for your permission first.
Data Protection Officer
As a public authority (as defined under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 2018) who processes personal data, GDPR introduces a requirement for us to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). The primary role of the DPO is to oversee data protection strategy and ensure that KFRS processes the personal data of its staff, customers, providers or any other individuals (also referred to as data subjects) in compliance with GDPR requirements.
The contact details for the Data Protection Officer are as follows:
- Data Protection Officer, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Headquarters, The Godlands, Tovil, Maidstone ME15 6XB
- Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone number 01622 692 121
How to request an internal review
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your FOI request, you may ask for an internal review. Internal review requests must be made within 40 working days of you receiving the initial response from KFRS to your FOI request. We are not obliged to provide an internal review if it is requested after more than 40 working days.
When you request an internal review you will be sent an acknowledgement of your request and you will receive a written response via email containing the outcome of the review within 20 working days (counting from the next working day after the request was made).
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Making a complaint
We will always try to help you with queries and requests for information, but if you do have a complaint, please follow our complaint procedures.