Public FOI

Freedom of Information in central government and WhatDoTheyKnow

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Alex Parsons

Every quarter the Cabinet Office releases Freedom of Information statistics for a collection of central government ministries, departments and agencies. This provides a benchmark for understanding how requests made from WhatDoTheyKnow relate to FOI requests made through other methods. From 2017, mySociety started retrospectively tracking the proportion of FOI requests sent via WhatDoTheyKnow to central government using a minisite that explores the data.

This report exploring what had and hadn’t changed in the last few years, as well as the number of requests made through WhatDoTheyKnow Pro — a new service being piloted that allows embargos of the results of FOI requests for a period — with the goal of bringing more people making FOI requests professionally (such as journalists) into the system and leading to more raw results being made available after the conclusion of a project.


  1. Introduction
    1. Key Points
  2. 2018 Statistics
    1. Home Office and immigration
  3. WhatDoTheyKnow Pro
  4. Change over time
  5. Comparing requests
  6. FOI requests not sent to central government
  7. Future research

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Cite this

Parsons, A. (2019). Public FOI. [online] mySociety Research. Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct 2021].