The Freedom of information Act 2000 came into force on 1st January 2005. With certain exceptions, this Act will enable any person who makes a request to a public authority (such as the Police Service) to be informed in writing, whether or not it holds information of the description specified in the request (‘the duty to confirm or deny’) and if it does hold such information, to have that information communicated to him (‘the obligations to disclose’). Section 10 of the Act requires a public authority to confirm or deny and if necessary to disclose such information (or to give a notice of any ground of exemption) not later than the 20th working day following the receipt of the request.
It is quite possible that a person or company (possibly another supplier of goods and services to the Police Service) will make a request for information relating to a particular tendering exercise. The law does not allow the Police Service (or any other public authority) to contract out of the Act by agreeing not to disclose certain information. The Act applies to all information held by the Police Service, whenever created and no matter from whom it was received, subject to certain specific exemptions.
In a tendering exercise, suppliers will have supplied the Police Service with detailed information to enable us to decide on whom to award the contract. The subsequent successful tenderer may also have supplied information during the life of the contract. Some of that information may be disclosable without concern. We may not be obliged to disclose information if such disclosure would be likely to harm the commercial interests of the Police Service, one of its suppliers, or any other person.
We may not be obliged to disclose information constituting a trade secret of one of our suppliers. We are not obliged to disclose information if such disclosure would amount to an actionable breach of confidence. There are a number of other exemptions within Part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which may be applicable to the Police Service given its functions. In relation to information provided to the Police Service by suppliers of goods and services, it seems that the most obvious exemptions are those contained within Section 41 (Information provided in confidence) and Section 43 (Commercial Interests).
Given the 20 day working day time limit for the North West Police forces to respond to requests for information, there will be very limited (if any) opportunity to consult with you on any information relating to your company requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Further information on this act can be obtained by visiting www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/20000036.htm. In accordance with the said Act we agree that if successful the final contract may be published without redaction.