Department for Culture Media and Sport

how to make a request

This page explains how you can request information, and find out what is already available.



Step 1: Check existing information sources

If you require information, as a first step we suggest that you check the Publication Scheme where you will find links to various classes of information published by the Department.

If you can not find what you are looking for through the existing information sources, then you should send an Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

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Step 2: Consider the terms of your FOI request

Is FOI the right option?

Any written request for information held by us is a FOI request.

There are different access routes for environmental information and for personal information public bodies hold about you. If you are looking for information about yourself that is held by the Department, you should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998. If your request relates to environmental information it will be handled under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Please see the 'Which act do I use to access information flowchart' (PDF 13kb) to see which Act is used to access information.

FOI requests result in a search only for the exact information requested and only on information already held on record. If you are simply seeking general advice on one of our policies you may find that a phone call outside the terms of FOI Act will lead to a response which is quicker and more tailored to your specific interest.

Be specific

You will get the information faster if you help us identify the exact information you require. It will also mean that your request is less likely to be turned down on cost grounds. Make sure that you:

  • are specific about exactly what information you want
  • provide us with a narrow, tightly focused request
  • give, where appropriate, a relevant time frame the information relates to

Is it likely to be over the cost limit?

DCMS's policy is not to charge for providing information where to do so costs less than the "appropriate limit". This is currently defined as £600 (with an official’s time costed at £25 an hour) to:

  • determine whether we hold the information requested
  • locate the information or documents containing the information
  • retrieve such information or documents
  • extract the information from the document containing it

Where the cost of providing information would exceed £600, our standard procedure is not to provide the information.

Requests to ‘see everything’ on a wide-ranging subject (for example ‘all documents that mention the Olympics’) or those which do not include a timeframe and therefore require us to search files back to the creation of the Department in 1997, are often (but not always) over the cost limit.

Detailed guidance on the cost limit is available on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

Will I be able to get any information I want?

The Act recognises that there will be valid reasons why some kinds of information may be withheld. You may wish to note the guidance on exemptions to the FOI Act.

How far back does DCMS’ information go?

The Department was created in 1997. We do hold a number of files from before then, but the large majority of remaining information from the various previous departments that DCMS replaced is stored at the National Archives.

How many requests am I permitted?

The Act does not limit the number of requests you can make. However, the Act allows a public authority the right to refuse any vexatious or repeated requests. The Department may also take into account the number of similar requests received from an individual when considering whether the cost limit has been reached.

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Step 3: Make a FOI request

Please contact the Department by sending an email to foi@culture.gsi.gov.uk, or via our contact us page putting 'Freedom of Information request' in the heading, or make a written request with 'Freedom of Information request' in the heading of your letter to the following address, :

Freedom of Information Team
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London
SW1Y 5DH

You should state how you wish to receive the information – i.e. by letter or by email.

Please note that we cannot accept FOI requests over the phone. FOI requests from anonymous / pseudonymous requesters, that is people who do not give their names or give false names, may not be accepted.

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