ARCHIVE: Defra's accessibility commitment
Accessibility: We work openly and honestly, sharing information with each other and our stakeholders.
We are committed to promoting and actively developing, internally and externally, a culture of openness, transparency and customer focus.
- actively publish and release information, mainly through a comprehensive Publication Scheme in line with requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations. We will review what we publish and take account of demand for information. We will publish information cost effectively in ways appropriate to the needs of the intended audience.
- use language appropriate to the intended audience. Where there are different audiences different approaches will be considered (e.g. full detail for specialists, summaries for the general reader). We will communicate in plain language and avoid the use of jargon. We will take account of, and ensure we are well informed about, the special communication needs of our intended audiences.
- make it as easy as possible to find information. In particular we will make material available on our website. We will continue to improve our website to make it as user friendly as possible to enable people to find the information they want quickly and easily, and we will, when necessary, draw attention to publication of information using other media as appropriate.
- encourage better information management. Through the creation and storage of records electronically and the implementation of the Code of Practice for Records Management.
- consult openly and widely wherever appropriate and practical. There may be times when action will need to be taken too quickly for wider public interest reasons to enable this to happen. In such cases, we will inform stakeholders as quickly as is practical about the reasons for our action, keep them fully informed of progress, seek feedback and consult and involve them in the longer term as practical.
- encourage those who do scientific research for us to publish their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals promptly and in line with contractual agreements.
- publish our targets and our achievements against them promptly and openly.
- deal with individual requests for information in a timely manner. We will treat all requests fairly and without prejudice taking into account the public interest in making information available wherever possible.
- give a clear explanation of our decision if information cannot be published or released. We will also tell people how to complain if they do not agree with any decision not to release information.
- sometimes have to charge for publications or for releasing information on request. Our charges will be set out in the Publication Scheme or agreed in advance for information released on request.
- regularly monitor our performance, actively seek and welcome feedback from all stakeholders including the general public and continue to look at how we can improve our accessibility to deliver a better service to customers.
Accessible to whom?
It is important to note that any person or organisation may apply for, and receive, information held by us. They do not need to be UK citizens or bodies, or to be resident in the country, or to prove an interest in obtaining the information.
Proactive publication and release on request
We will maintain a Publication Scheme as required by the Freedom of Information Act which will set out commitments to publish certain categories of information. Exemptions to this commitment to proactive publication will be clearly defined in the Scheme and reviewed regularly. But this is not the full extent of what we will make available. We will release information on request wherever possible.
Information which cannot be released
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998 set out exceptional circumstances in which a request for information may be refused. We will only take decisions not to release information after careful consideration and give our reasons clearly in writing.
Page last modified: 9 October 2007
Page published: 2 May 2003