Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2014 gives you the right, subject to certain restrictions, to access information, or records held by the Government, a State body or other bodies that receive State funding. GSOC is a State Agency but we are only partially subject to the FOI Act, in that investigation and case files are not included, for operational and confidentiality reasons. This means that information or records about a GSOC investigation may not be available to you under this Act. The particular section of the Act that outlines this is shown below
Schedule 1, Part 1 “Partially included agencies”, says:
Section 6 (which lists the public bodies affected by the Act) does not include a reference to -(y) the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, insofar as it relates to records concerning an examination or investigation carried out by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission under Part 4 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005;
We are subject to the Act in relation to administrative matters and are happy to receive requests by e-mail at email@example.com or by post.
Your request will be acknowledged as soon as possible and a decision on your request will normally be made within four weeks. If you are refused access to records we will explain why.
There is no charge for submitting a request, but if fulfilling it would incur costs, these may be passed on to you, as laid out below. The more you refine, or specify, your request, the easier and quicker it will be to respond to you. This will also reduce the likelihood of costs applying to your request.
There is no charge if the records concerned contain only your personal information, unless there are a significant number of records.
Non-personal information – requests that exceed €100 in cost to fulfil
For requests that exceed €100 in cost to fulfil, search and retrieval time is charged at €20 per hour and copying is charged at 4c per page.
- Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €500 but less than €700, a maximum charge of €500 applies.
- Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €700, GSOC can refuse to process the request.
Details of actual charges relating to your request, and how to make payment, will be notified to you in writing. We are obliged to confirm your consent and collect a deposit from you before processing your request.
If you are not satisfied with a decision, or if we have not replied to you within 4 weeks, you may ask GSOC for an internal review (you must ask within 4 weeks of the decision). This review will be conducted by a more senior officer, and will normally be completed within 3 weeks.
Applications for internal reviews cost €30.
There is no fee for internal review applications for:
- your personal records; or
- in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.
If you are still unhappy with GSOC’s decision, or if you have not received the results of the internal review within 3 weeks, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner for a fee of €50.
Refusals and Exemptions
When dealing with FOI requests, we try to release as much information as possible. However, in some circumstances the FOI Act allows us to refuse access to certain records. This is usually to protect sensitive information, where its disclosure might damage key interests of the State or of third parties.
If we decide to withhold information, we will explain why. If you are not satisfied with this decision, you have the right to seek first, an internal review, then a review by the Information Commissioner.
The principal exemption is if the record is part of an investigation or case file. These records are not included under the FOI Act, for operational and confidentiality reasons.
Schedule 1, Part 1 “Partially included agencies”, says:
Section 6 <which lists the public bodies affected by the Act> does not include a reference to—
(y) the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, insofar as it relates to records concerning an examination or investigation carried out by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission under Part 4 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005;
These are the other main exemptions or reasons that GSOC will not release information:
- No records can be found – s. 15(1)(a).
- You request does not comply with the instructions for an FOI request – s. 15(1)(b).
- By reason of the nature or volume of the records, servicing the request would cause a disruption to the working of the division – s. 15(1)(c).
- The information is already in the public domain – s. 15(1)(d).
- Publication of the record is required by law within the next 12 weeks – s. 15(1)(e).
- GSOC intends to publish the document within the next 6 weeks – s. 15(1)(f).
- We judge the request to be frivolous or vexatious – s. 15(1)(g).
- In the case of a request where a fee must be charged, where the deposit has not been paid – s. 15(1)(h).
- Where the records already released, either to the same or a previous requester – s. 15(1)(i).
- Records for submission to Government – s. 28.
- Records that are part of a deliberative process – s. 29.
- If it is a record pertaining to the functions and negotiations of GSOC – s. 30.
- If legal professional privilege applies – s. 31.
- If it is a record whereby its release could affect law enforcement and safety – s.32.
- If it is a record whereby its release could affect the security of the state – s.33.
- If it is information given in confidence – s.35.
- If it is commercially sensitive information – s.36.
- If it is personal information (not related to yourself) – s.37.
- If it contains research being carried out by GSOC – s.39.
- If it is a record whereby its release could affect the financial interests of the state – s.40.
- If it is a type of record not covered by FOI – s.42.
GSOC Publication Scheme
See below direct links to the various pieces of information in the structure recommended by DPER:
Information about GSOC
Organisational information including management, structure, staffing, locations, etc., can be found in About Us.
This includes information about:
- Establishment of the organisation
- Roles, responsibilities and functions
- Management arrangements and governance
- Human resources related information
- Organisational strategy
All of our Annual Reports to date are also available on the website.
The main types of records held by GSOC which may be accessed through FOI are listed within this FOI section.
Our contact details are at the bottom of every page of the website.
Within the Customer Service section, you can find our Customer Charter, Code of Ethics, and information on how to complain about GSOC staff if necessary.
Services provided to the public by GSOC
The About Us section lists GSOC’s responsibilities, or areas of activity. GSOC’s primary responsibility is to deal with complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of the Garda Síochána. Information on how to access this service, which is free-of-charge, is available on the How to Complain page.
Financial and procurement information
Financial statements, procurement procedures, any plans for major capital expenditure, links to any open tenders and a list of current contracts are all available on the Administration page.
Information published routinely
- Our FOI disclosure log and index of precedents is updated quarterly.
- We publish operational statistics monthly and more detailed infographics quarterly.
- Our Annual Reports detail all of our activity undertaken in the previous year.
- We publish job vacancies as they arise on our Careers page.
- We publish press statements in our Media Room.
GSOC only became subject to the requirements and exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 on 14 April 2015. As such, it does not routinely publish most of the records below, available through FOI. However, GSOC will begin to proactively publish information that we notice is consistently the subject of FOI requests.
Types of records held by the Corporate Services Unit:
- Property records
- Building maintenance records and information
- Health and safety records and information
- Budget documentation
- Procurement procedures, policies and documentation
- Insurance documentation
Types of records held by the Finance Unit:
- Monthly financial and budget reports
- Annual financial statements
- Internal financial control policies and procedures
- Annual and periodic estimates
- System reports on payments, invoices and orders
- System reports on receipts and invoices
- Financial spreadsheets of GSOC assets
- Reports on VAT and other tax payments
- Information pertaining to services provided by legal firms, ICT firms and other suppliers
Types of records held by the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Unit:
- ICT policies
- ICT licences and agreements
- Information pertaining to ICT systems
Types of records held by the Human Resources (HR) Unit:
- Personnel files for all staff and pensioners
- Staff statistics
- Human Resources policies
- Industrial relations and employee relations policies, agreements, etc.
- Pension and superannuation scheme information and records
Types of records held by the Legal Affairs Unit:
- Statistics on files sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) following criminal investigations
- Requests for discovery and non-party disclosure processed
Types of records held by the Communications & Research Unit:
- Press releases
- Annual reports
- Monthly and quarterly operations statistics
- Annual complainant profiles
- Annual profiles of gardaí complained of
- Bi-annual public attitudes surveys
Types of records held by the Operations Directorate which can be accessed under the FOI Act:
- Customer service procedures and policies
- Records and information pertaining to staffing structure
- Monthly statistical bulletins and briefings
- System-generated statistical reports