Freedom of Information Act – Exemptions

This page is a guide to the key exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act which may cause your request to be denied. A more detailed explanation can be found in the Association of Chief Police Officers' National Manual of Guidance for the Police Service.

Section

Exemption

Type

Type

Section 21

Information accessible by other means

Absolute

Class-based

Section 22

Information intended for future publication

Qualified

Class-based

Section 23

Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters

Absolute

Prejudice-based

Section 24

National security

Qualified

Prejudice-based

Section 26

Defence

Qualified

Prejudice-based

Section 27 (1)

International relations

Qualified

Prejudice-based

Section 27 (2)

International relations

Class-based

Section 28

Relations within the UK

Qualified

Prejudice-based

Section 29

The economy

Qualified

Prejudice-based

Section 30

Investigations and proceedings conducted by the public authority

Qualified

Class-based

Section 31

Law enforcement

Qualified

Prejudiced-based

Section 32

Court records

Absolute

Class-based

Section 33

Audit functions

Qualified

Prejudiced-based

Section 34

Parliamentary privilege

Absolute

Class-based

Section 35

Formulation of government policy

Qualified

Class-based

Section 36

Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs

Qualified

Prejudiced-based

Section 37

Communication with Her Majesty and honours

Qualified

Class-based

Section 38

Health and Safety

Qualified

Prejudiced-based

Section 39

Environmental Information

Qualified

Class-based

Section 40

Personal Information

Absolute

Class-based

Section 41

Information provided in confidence

Absolute

Class-based

Section 42 

Legal professional privilege

Qualified

Class-based

Section 43 (1)

Commercial interests

Qualified

Class-based

Section 44

Prohibitions on disclosure

Absolute

Class-based

Class-based exemptions are where all information falling into that particular class is exempt from disclosure. In general terms, disclosure of information is excluded, regardless of whether it would be harmful to the police or not.

Prejudice-based exemptions means there is an obligation on behalf of the public authority to demonstrate that the disclosure of the information in question would, or would be likely to have, a specified prejudicial effect or identifiable harm. They come into effect when the disclosure of information would have a specified prejudicial effect (actual, real or substance). When there are no prejudicial effects, the information must be released.

Qualified exemptions must be considered with reference to the public interest test. This refers to: considerations affecting the good order and functioning of a community, government and public service affairs; and common benefit to be derived by all members of a community (or a substantial part) and for their benefit.