30/06/2003

Police open ‘information door’ to public

Detailed information about the Police Service of Northern Ireland and how it does business is to be made more widely and readily available to members of the public.

The move has been prompted by legislative requirements and forms a part of the PSNI’s policy for openness, transparency and accountability. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires all public bodies, including the Police Service, to adopt and maintain a publication scheme which gives information to the public about who the police are, what their policies, aims and objectives are, how decisions are made and how police are performing.

Assistant Chief Constable Roy Toner, who is in charge of the initiative, said: “The law is clear: from January 2005, anyone who makes a request to PSNI for information must be told whether the Service holds such information and, with certain exceptions, must be supplied with that information. Those exceptions will include requests for information about criminal investigations, past or present, and about matters of national security.

“However, in the spirit of openness and transparency, to which we are committed, we will continue to supply as much information to the public as we can unless we are restricted by other legislation. We are committed to providing equal access to information for everyone. Information will be made available on request in accessible formats, such as Braille, large print and in minority ethnic languages for those not fluent in English.”

The main purpose of this publication scheme will be to ensure that a significant amount of information about policing is available to the public, without the need for a specific request. It will include:
  • Details of organisational structure and key personnel, including their area of responsibility and how to contact them;
  • Information on the strategic aims, objectives and plans of the Service;
  • Copies of the three most recent annual reports;
  • Minutes of the open section of the Chief Constable’s Forum, the organisation’s key policy-making meeting;
  • Corporate policies, some parts of which, such as police tactics, may be exempt;
  • Details of performance against objectives.
An Information Commissioner, who will regulate both the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts, will enforce the provisions of the Act.

Information will be available on the PSNI website at www.psni.police.uk from June 30 2003, and all information included under the PSNI Publication Scheme will also be available free of charge as a hard copy.

(SP)

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