A Freedom of Information request (FOI) are requests you can send to a public office to access information or data. An FOI request is a general request for access to information or documents held by a public body.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2000 gives any member of the public the right to request access to information held by a public office; this request is called a Freedom of Information request (FOI).

The Act will formally apply to the Office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman during 2017, once the office has been added to the list of public bodies under Schedule 1 of the Act.  In the meantime, OSCO will deal with any requests for information as if the Act already applies.

You may find that the information you want is already on our website. If this is the case, a FOI request is not required. If the information you want is not on our website you will need to submit an FOI request.


How to submit an FOI

To submit an FOI request, you will need to address your request to the Business Manager and submit the request in writing to

SCO PO Box 72252, London SW1P 9ZZ or


The request needs to include:

  • Your name
  • A contact address (either postal or email address)
  • A detailed description of the information you want. You will also need to tell us whether you want a summary of the information held or whether you actually want all of the information held on the subject of your request


When you will get a response

You should receive a response to your FOI request in 20 working days; this time limit is set in the Freedom of Information Act. If it is not possible to meet this time limit, you will be contacted and informed that more time is needed to deal with your request. The request cannot take longer than 40 working days after receiving your request as stated in the Act.


When might a FOI request be turned down

There are some circumstances in which the Office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman may turn down your FOI request. If we cannot give you some or all of the information you have requested, we will provide you reasons for this. Some reasons may include, but are not limited to:

  • The information you are requesting is sensitive and it is not in the public interest to provide this.
  • It would be too costly to obtain and provide the information you are asking for.
  • If your request is not clear or specific enough for us to provide the information you are requesting we may ask you to clarify or narrow down the request so we can assist you.


Reviews of the response

If you are unhappy with the response to your FOI request you can ask us to review our decision.

Once the FOI Act formally applies, if you are not satisfied with the review you can raise a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office.