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Surge in Freedom of Information Requests: An Overview of Q3 2023 Statistics

Surge in Freedom of Information Requests: An Overview of Q3 2023 Statistics


From July to September 2023, monitored bodies received 18,555 FOI requests, a significant 41% increase.

Between July and September 2023, monitored bodies experienced a substantial surge in Freedom of Information (FOI) requests compared to the same quarter in 2022. The statistics paint a comprehensive picture of the landscape:

The statistics offer a detailed breakdown of the challenges faced by monitored bodies in handling the surge in FOI requests. Notably, the National Archives witnessed a staggering increase in requests, impacting the overall volume and processing timelines. Additionally, the decline in response rates across various bodies highlights the strain on resources and the complexity of managing these requests effectively.

As the demand for information continues to grow, the analysis of these statistics becomes crucial for these bodies to strategize and enhance their processes, ensuring timely and effective responses while addressing the evolving landscape of information requests.

  • Request Volume and Distribution: There were 18,555 non-routine FOI requests across monitored bodies, marking a noteworthy increase of 5,398 requests, up by 41% from the corresponding period in 2022. Of these, 9,631 requests were directed at Departments of State, with the remaining 8,924 received by other monitored bodies. Notably, the National Archives stood out, accounting for a significant 63% of requests among other monitored bodies.

  • Request Handling Performance: The data reveals a decline in response timeliness across all monitored bodies, with an 80% response rate in Q3 2023, down from 85% in the same period in 2022. Departments of State showed an 88% response rate (down from 89% in Q3 2022), while other monitored bodies recorded a 70% response rate (down from 79% in Q3 2022).

  • Resolvability and Outcomes: Out of the 18,555 non-routine requests, 68% (12,551) were resolvable. Among these resolvable requests:

    • 4,066 requests were granted in full.
    • 5,537 requests were either withheld in part or in full due to exemptions, costs exceeding limits, or being considered vexatious or repeated.
    • 2,948 requests were yet to be processed.
  • Unresolvable Requests: Around 32% (5,948) of the requests remained unresolvable, with reasons including:

    • 2,412 requests needing further clarification for proper response.
    • 3,536 requests involved information not held by the responding body.
  • Procedural Refusals: About 10% of the resolvable requests (1,788) faced procedural refusals, including vexatious requests, repeated requests, or those exceeding the cost limit.

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