Sheffield Council to reinstate information requests following three month suspension

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Sheffield Council said it is reinstating its service for information requests following a three month suspension.

The service - which handles enquiries under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act 2018 - was suspended on March 16 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But now, as government is lifting restrictions and more people are able to return to work, the council is underway with bringing the service back into normal operation.

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A spokesperson for the council said: "The council is in the process of reinstating the handling of FOI, EIR and SAR requests, which will include addressing the backlog of requests."

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The council said it continued to log all new requests during that period and responded to some where possible.

Of those it did respond to, not all were answered within the normal 20 working day guidelines due to staff being redeployed, the council said.

The team relies on other services when answering requests and said many employees from those departments were redeployed to help with the coronavirus response.

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It has also had to work remotely and some staff did not have immediate access to equipment or the ability to access paper records - which they said means it has not been possible to access information for requests "easily or at all".

And while some members of the department were able to work remotely, others were redeployed themselves to assist with other services.

Members of the public can use FOI, EIR and SAR requests to access information the council records, with some exceptions.

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