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Make a PSI request for re-use in UK

Continuing the series of articles about What is a “request for re-use” and how do we make it right?, this time we deal with the situation in UK.

 Legislative framework

Let’s take a look at the legislation. The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (SI 2015 No. 1415) (the ‘2015 Regulations’) are in force from 18 July 2015 and transpose Directive 2003/98/EC as amended by Directive 2013/37/EC (the ‘Amending Directive’).

Access to public sector information is provided for under different regimes, such as  the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Freedom of information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

On The National Archives’ website there is a wealth of information on the PSI Directive transposition and re-use regulations. You will find some useful documents such as an implementation guidance for re-users and a template form for requesting re-use; there are also additional resources for public sector bodies.

Providing a kind of summary of the implementation guidance for re-users is beyond the scope of this article but it is worth mentioning and commenting some highlights.

Public sector body information is presumed to be re-usable once access is obtained, unless the information is otherwise restricted or excluded.

There is a distinction between access to, and re-use of public sector information, but once you have the first one, you have the second one. For instance, information published on a public sector body’s website would be exempt from an access request by virtue of being already reasonably accessible (section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000). This information would be available for re-use.

If information is not under an open licence, you must make a request for re-use to the public sector body that holds the information.

If there is no open license, permission has to be sought.

 The guidance describes also how to make a request for re-use.

  • The request should be made in writing (paper, email, or via online form where provided)
  • It should be clear and specific about what information you want to re-use
  • It should describe how you intend to re-use the information
  • And it should be reasonable in volume and complexity

Of course, the request has to be addressed to the public sector body that produces, holds or disseminates the information. However if you do not know exactly which public sector body has the data you are interested in or you are afraid of doing something wrong there is an alternative.

 

WhatDoTheyKnow

If you are looking for a more supervised procedure the whatdotheyknow website is a great help in this context. Its repository contains more that 500.000 requests and more than 23.000 public authorities.  You can browse the repository to find similar requests to the one you plan to make or to find an authority you think might have the information. But not only. It provides you with a form to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and access information about public authorities.

First, you have to indicate to which public sector body you want to make a request.

A live search box helps you finding the public sector body while you type.

Then you are presented with a form where you have to insert the summary and the description of the request. Sometimes at the top of the form, you can find additional information on the public sector body chosen; for instance a description of the activities of the body and some useful hints to take care of.

 

PSI requests using WhatdoTheyKnow

As you may noticed WhatDoTheyKnow is focused on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests; there is no mention of the 2015 Regulations in the website. Nevertheless, this does not imply that you cannot make a PSI request using this route.

Simply put a reference to the 2015 Regulations in the description, something like this:

I am seeking permission under the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 to reuse the information you provide.

 

Add your PSI request to PSI Monitor

You can either add your request to both whatdotheyknow.com and psimonitor.eu or add it just to whatdotheyknow and take care to include in the description the tag #psimonitor.  

The tag will allow to automatically add the request to the PSI Monitor repository.

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