Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) gives people the right to request information from us. It is intended to promote a culture of transparency and accountability, increase public understanding of how public authorities carry out our duties, why we make the decisions we do and how we spend public money.

The FOIA gives individuals and organisations the legal right to:

  • Ask if a public authority is holding information; and if so
  • Obtain access to the information held, within 20 working days from the day after receipt of the valid written request.

If the requestor has had access restrictions applied under our Acceptable Behaviour policy, we will consider the request on its merits. However, we may alter the way we correspond regarding the request(s), in line with restrictions.


Whilst we always look to respond to requests fully, requesters are not always entitled to be given all of the information they request. There are 23 exemptions from the right of access to information, which are set out in Part 2 of the FOIA.

There are two types of exemption:

  • Absolute Exemptions – where the right to information is completely negated by the exemption; and
  • Qualified Exemptions – where we identify a possible exemption, but must weigh up competing interests to decide whether it serves the interest of the public better to withhold or disclose the information. This is known as the public interest test.

Publication Scheme

Under the FOIA, we are required to proactively publish information and it is a statutory duty to develop and maintain a publication scheme that has been approved by the ICO.

Our publication scheme demonstrates our commitment to make certain information publicly available and explains how information can be obtained. The scheme also details if any charges are applicable.

How to make a Freedom of Information request

If you cannot find what you want on the publication scheme then you can send an information request to us by letter, fax or email.

We will need:

  • Your name and contact details (email or postal address) so we can send you a reply; and
  • A description of the information or documents you want
  • It would be helpful if you could clearly mark your correspondence “Freedom of Information”.

We will acknowledge all written FOI requests within five working days of the request being received. The 20 working day timeline starts from the working day after receipt of the request and continues during working days, including if the office is closed to the public. Bank holidays in UK territories are not considered as a working day, even if the offices are open.

In some cases, a request may be refused. If so, a refusal notice will be issued setting out the decision, the exemption relied on and the reasons why. If the exemption is a qualified one then the public interest test reasoning will also be explained.

Requests should be sent to:

General Optical Council
10 Old Bailey London

or by email to:

Stage one: Internal Review

If you are not happy with our response you can request that we complete an internal review. Requests for internal review must be made in writing and filed within 40 calendar days of our initial response. An employee with no prior involvement, usually of a higher grade, will reconsider your request.

Your internal review request will be acknowledged within five working days of receipt and a response provided no later than twenty working days after receipt.

Requests should be sent to:

General Optical Council
10 Old Bailey London

or by email to:

Stage Two: Complain to the ICO

If you remain dissatisfied following the internal review you may complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office on any of the following grounds.

Failure to:

  • Provide the information requested
  • Respond to the request within 20 working days
  • Explain why more than 20 working days was needed
  • Provide advice and assistance
  • Provide information in the requested format
  • Clearly explain the reason for refusing a request
  • Correctly apply an exemption under the FOIA

The ICO will decide whether the request has been handled appropriately in accordance with the FOIA and will provide a decision notice, to both you and the GOC.

Freedom of Information requests

We publish responses to previous Freedom of Information requests handled under the Act on a quarterly basis. Personal details such as names and addresses (both postal and email) have been removed to protect requesters' privacy.

Read our freedom of information releases