The Constitution Unit


Freedom of Information and Data Protection Archive

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The Unit's research on Freedom of Information covers its impact on central and local government, Whitehall, business, universities. You will find links to the projects we completed on these topics below along with resources from past seminars and work with a comparative, international focus. 

FOI & Universities (2011–12)

FOI legislation presents both a threat and an opportunity for universities and their academics in the UK. This project sought to understand the implications as well as possible uses of the legislation in this area. 

FOI International Focus (2010–12)

This page gathers together extensive information collected by multiple Constitution Unit researchers on FOI regimes in 24 coutries. It led to a special report comparing the costs of FOI around the world. 

The Impact of FOI on Parliament. Why isn't it greater? (2011)

The greatest impact of FOI legislation, passed in 2000, was not initially intended to fall on parliament. However, following the expenses scandal, quite the opposite turned out to be the case. Why and how did this happened?

Evaluating the Impact of FOI on Local Government (2009–11)

Local government has been the focus of more than two thirds of FOI requests. This project systematically analysed the impact of FOI legislation on local authorities in England. It surveyed requesters, journalists and analysed media articles. 

FOI & Parliament: the Sword & the Shield (2009–11)

How has parliament used FOI to hold government to account and is Parliament itself is now more open and accountable as a result? This was the first project of its kind to investigate the impact of implementing an FOI regime in a Westminster-style parliament. 

Understanding the formulation and development of government policy in the context of FOI (2008–2009)

This report is fundamentally about the process and nature of government policy making in Westminster and Whitehall. The context of the report is, however, derived from section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act which provides a partial exemption for release of information related to the "formulation and development of government policy".

Impact of FOI on Whitehall (2007–09)

This project considered the impact of Freedom of Information Legislation on Whitehall and the civil service. It's main output was a book written by Robert Hazell, Ben Worthy and Mark Glover, based on interviews with officials, requesters and journalists. 

FOI seminars

From 2008 to 2011, the Constitution Unit held a series of seminars and a conference on various topics to do with FOI. Click here to view a details of those events and download related resources. 

FOI resources

The Constitution Unit studied FOI and data protection for many years. We were at the forefront of research which brought the Act into creation and conducted many consultancy projects to prepare organisations. Find a list of resources on the topic here. 

Monthly updates

The Constitution Unit put together a selection of the latest news and policy developments in Freedom of information and Data Protection from around the world, monthly in 2010 to 2012. Click here to view a list of those updates.