I am requesting under the Freedom of Information Act to receive a copy of any internal report, inquiry or briefing circulated to Senior Civil Service members (SCS Pay Bands 1, 2 or 3) or ministers at your organisation during 2016 or 2017 to date containing the words ‘secret’, ‘classified’, ‘confidential’ or ‘restricted’. Any such documents should be considered within the scope of this request whether the above words are in cover pages, the body of the text or watermarked on the document. I remind you that designating reports by such terms carries no legal force and does not confer automatic exemption from the act. I trust that it will be a quick and simple matter to search for these words and should be easily achievable within cost limits stipulated by the act.
I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with the information you have requested because it is covered by the exemption at section 12(1) of the FOI Act.
Under section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, The National Archives is not obliged to comply with any information request where the prescribed costs of doing so exceed £600. The £600 limit applies to all central government departments and is based on work being carried out at a rate of £25 per hour, which equates to 3½ days work per request.
Prescribed costs include those which cover the cost of determining, locating, retrieving and extracting the information. They do not include considering whether any information is exempt from disclosure, overheads such as heating or lighting, or disbursements such as photocopying or postage.
We estimate that the cost of processing your request will exceed the aforementioned limit.
The current scope of the request, as it stands is broad and to determine what we hold that is relevant would go beyond the cost limit.
You may wish to refine your request by narrowing its scope and being more specific about what information you particularly wish to obtain. This can be accomplished by limiting the time scale, number of keywords or identifying a particular subject, area of interest.
You may also be interested in guidance produced by the ICO. For example their guidance which covers; ‘How should I word my request to get the best result?’ – outlines some tips for making more effective FOI requests. This includes that it is useful when asking more general questions, to try and provide dates and names.
To be clear, you are not obliged to inform us of the purpose of your request, but the more descriptive information you provide, the more we can help you identify if we hold the information you are looking for.