‘Cost’ calculations as a barrier to gaining information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 from the Police in England and Wales

Kingston, Sarah Elizabeth and Elliott, Amy and Thomas, Terry (2019) ‘Cost’ calculations as a barrier to gaining information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 from the Police in England and Wales. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 29 (7). pp. 834-847. ISSN 1043-9463

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Abstract

Previous research has identified the methodological value of using the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to gain access to information held by the police, as well as its limitations. Very little attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which the police calculate the cost of FOI compliance and utilise cost exemptions to deny access to information. In this article, we present our empirical findings from our FOI requests made to the police in England and Wales that demonstrates how cost calculations became a barrier to our request for information. In addition, the responses received show that there were significant differences between the calculated cost needed to retrieve the information, the reasons given for the refusal for access to information, as well as regional variations with FOI compliance. We argue that excessive cost calculations, given as a reason for not providing access to information by the police, is a ‘metric’ for institutional limitations in data recording and data management. Furthermore, in a time of 'austerity' we suggest that with increases in police funding cuts the calculated cost of FOI compliance will increase, thereby undermining police transparency and accountability. We therefore question claims that the FOIA is a ‘powerful’ tool that social researchers should use more often.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Policing and Society on 17/01/2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10439463.2018.1424156
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3312
Subjects:
ID Code:
89437
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
03 Jan 2018 11:56
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
29 Sep 2020 03:56