Next working day reply to an FOIA request from the Home Office !

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Astonishing ! We have a next working day reply to a FOIA request from the Home Office ! Ok it is not a "substantive reply", and they are not going to reply fully within the statutory 20 working days, but it is still a pleasant surprise, given their past record.

As we guessed, they are invoking the Section 22 Future Publication exemption, but at least the Home Office are having to think about the questions raised in our FOIA request about the new guidance, rules and regulations which cover protests of demonstrations in and around Parliament Square.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was passed into law back on April 7th 2005, so why the Home Office have not published an initial set of rules and the extent of the Designated Area is a mystery,

Since they are applying the "public interest test"

"we will not be able to offer a substantive reply within 20 working days of 2 June, the date of your email. We are however treating your request as a matter of urgency and now aim to respond by 22 July."

It really is a mystery as to why the extent of the Designated Area and the new rules have not already been published.

What possible reason for a delay could there be ?

Even if they only apply the Order initially to the Parliament Square pavement itself, in order to harass the controversial lone "peace camp" demonstrator Brian Haw, whose 4 year vigil seems to have been the cause of this legislation in the first place, they could always extend the Designated Area later.

"Home Office
Public Order and Police Co-Operaion Unit

[note the misspelling of "Co-operation"]

Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

Telephone: 020 7035 1807

E-mail: Website:


Reference: Annnn/ n 3 June 2005

Dear Mr XXXX

Thank you your email of 2 June in which you requested information on new legislation dealing with protests and demonstrations in Parliament Square.

We are at present considering your information request. As you may be aware, although the Freedom of Information Act carries a presumption in favour of disclosure, it does contain numerous exemptions which can be used to withhold information in certain legitimate circumstances. In the case of some of these exemptions it is necessary to apply a public interest test before we can decide whether information is disclosable or not, as outlined in section 2 of the Act. The public interest test is used to balance the public interest in disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding the information in line with the particular exemption.

We are currently applying the public interest test in relation to the exemption contained within section 22 which relates to Future Publication. Where the public interest test is being considered the Act allows us to exceed the 20 working days response target where necessary. This is subject to the condition that we inform applicants of the date by which we expect to have concluded our deliberations and will therefore be able to provide you with a substantive reply to your request (section 17.2 of the Act). I am therefore writing to inform you that as a result of our consideration of the public interest test in this case, we will not be able to offer a substantive reply within 20 working days of 2 June, the date of your email. We are however treating your request as a matter of urgency and now aim to respond by 22 July. I would like to apologise for this delay and any inconvenience that it may cause.

Should you have any queries about the handling of your information request then please do not hesitate to contact me without delay.

Yours sincerely,

Public Order team"

2 TrackBacks

The Evening Standard and the BBC have published two different accounts of the alleged map which outlines the controversial Designated Area around Parliament Square "No point in the area so specified may be more than one kilometre in a straight... Read More

Tony Blair: “When I pass protestors every day at Downing Street, and believe me, you name it, they protest against it, I may not like what they call me, but I thank God they can. That’s called freedom” On August... Read More

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About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog @spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver. - FOIA request submission and publication website from

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Campaign for the Freedom of Information

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Amnesty International 's campaign

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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