In 2014 Theresa May shocked police officers by saying the Police Federation would be made subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

May reiterated the plan in 2015.

This year will see the law passed that makes the Federation — which represents more than 100,000 officers — made subject to the Act.

The Policing and Crime Bill 2015-16, which has just had its second reading in the House of Commons, formalises the change.

Chapter 2, Section 38 of the planned law says:

Freedom of Information Act etc: Police Federation for England and Wales

The Police Federation for England and Wales is to be treated for the purposes

(a)the Freedom of Information Act 2000,

(b)the Data Protection Act 1998, and

(c)section 18 of the Inquiries Act 2005,

as if it were a body listed in Part 5 of Schedule 1 to the 2000 Act (public authorities).

The move is unlikely to go down well with some sections of the UK’s police. As highlighted by the Police Oracle, Warwickshire and West Mercia Police complained to the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information that the majority of the requests they received were from the media.

The justification for the change from the Home Secretary, as she originally outlined in 2014, is that the Federation is “an organisation created by statute” and that it “serves a public function”.

May also said that the Normington Review “demonstrated” the Federation needed more transparency and accountability.

I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare time ever since.