Freedom of information

How to apply for access to information held by WA Police, according to the freedom of information act.

The Freedom of Information Act, 1992 (FOI Act) is designed to make State and local government agencies more open and accountable to the public. This is achieved by:

  1. Creating a general right of access to documents held by those agencies, subject to the sensitivities of the document.
  2. Providing a means for individuals to apply to see their own records and ensure personal information held is accurate, complete, up to date and not misleading.
  3. Requiring certain documents concerning government operations are made available to the public.

What information can be accessed from WA Police and how to access it

As the primary law enforcement agency in the state, WA Police has a variety of documents and records. Some of these have been created for, or have specific application to, various functional units within WA Police. This includes documents created as a result of an incident requiring police attendance, and some are created for research or statistical purposes.

Applying for documents under the Freedom of Information Act

Only documents held by WA Police which are unable to be obtained by another means are able to be applied for. The FOI Act contains exemptions and limitations which can preclude or restrict the release of some documents, or restrict the release of certain details contained within some documents.

Should you require access to documents held by WA Police and you are unable to obtain these by any other means, you can make application under the FOI Act. Within your application, you should include as much information as possible as this will assist with locating all relevant documentation.

You may lodge an FOI application by any of the following methods:

  • Through Police Direct. This requires a credit card to pay for any fees, if applicable.
  • In person by attending at:
    WA Police Information Release Centre
    Level 4, Eastpoint Plaza
    233 Adelaide Terrace
    PERTH 6000
    Ph: (08) 9260 7777
  • In writing by completing the application form (PDF, 349kb) and sending it to:
    FOI Coordinator
    Information Release Centre
    Locked Bag 30
    EAST PERTH WA 6892
  • Writing a letter and posting it to the above mentioned address. Please include as much of the following information as possible:
    • Your name and other relevant names involved
    • Your postal address (must be an address in Australia)
    • Date of incident – if relevant
    • Location of incident – if relevant
    • Nature of incident
    • Incident or traffic crash reference number (if applicable)
    • Name of attending Police Officers (if known)
    • Application fee of $30 (if applicable).

Initial application fees

Where an FOI application requests information that may contain details about a third party (other than the applicant), there is a $30 application fee. This payment is required at the time of lodging the request. If lodging in person, this fee may be in cash, cheque or money order. If you are mailing your application, please include a cheque / money order made payable to the Commissioner of Police. Please note, electronic money order vouchers cannot be accepted and will be returned. An application without the prescribed fee of $30 included will be considered as invalid and the application will not proceed until full payment is received. Proof of identity is also required before any application can be processed. The majority of applicants provide a copy of their driver's licence or passport for this purpose. If unsure about this requirement, please contact the Western Australia Police Information Release Centre on (08) 9260 7777 or via email.

Fees for finalised FOI applications

Access to personal information or request to amend personal information

Free

Application Fee – non-personal information

$30.00

Processing Fee – non-personal information

$30.00 per hour

Photocopying Fee

20c per page

Where FOI processing fees are likely to exceed $25.00, FOI Staff will provide an 'Estimate of Costs'. This Estimate contains details of additional charges that may be applicable to your application and also provides you with the opportunity to reduce any applicable charges by reducing the number of documents requested.

Notice of the decision

Once an application has been evaluated and any documents processed, a 'Notice of Decision' will be issued. This Notice is a formal decision regarding the level of accesses that has been provided to documents located in relation to your application, and which is pursuant to the FOI Act. Levels of access are:

  • Full access
  • Partial access (edited format)
  • Refused access.

This Notice may also include advice on any further charges that have been incurred related to your application.

Time frame for application completion

The FOI Act provides a 45 day timeframe from the date a valid application has been received however this timeframe may be extended by agreement with the agency and the applicant. Documents may be difficult to locate for many reasons resulting in applications having to be extended. Reasons can include difficulty in locating persons involved in incidents, the time since the incident and the amount of documents involved. In such instances, FOI staff may contact you to discuss an extension.

Exemptions

The FOI Act contains exemptions to certain information meaning that this information is unable to be obtained through an FOI application. For example, exemptions may be applied to protect the privacy of other individuals and/or sensitive law enforcement, public safety and property security activities.

WA Police embrace the transparency provided by the FOI Act, however, must also consider the security of operational matters and the interests of the public as a whole. The following areas within the WA Police are listed as being exempt under Schedule 2 and section 10 of the FOI Act . Access to information from any of these areas is prohibited:

  • State Intelligence Division (formerly Bureau of Criminal Intelligence)
  • Tactical Protection Division (formerly Protective Services Unit)
  • Witness Security Unit
  • Internal Affairs Unit.

In addition, exemptions also apply to documents originating from a Commonwealth intelligence or security agency.

Appealing a decision

If an applicant is dissatisfied with a decision that has been made, an application for an Internal Review of the decision may be made. An Internal Review should be lodged in writing to WA Police within 30 days after the Notice of Decision is received. An independent officer of Inspector rank or above will undertake the internal review and review the original decision. The Internal Review process will be complete within 15 days of the Internal Review request being received.

Should an applicant be dissatisfied with the Internal Review, application may be made with the Office of the Information Commissioner. This request must be lodged within 60 days of the Notice of Decision being given.

All details relating to Internal and External Review processes are provided within the original Notice of Decision document.

Amending personal information

The FOI Act provides the public with the right to apply to amend their personal information contained within WA Police documentation if the information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading.

Your application to amend personal information should be submitted in accordance with Section 46 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1992. It must:

  • Be in writing
  • Give enough details that to enable the document that contains the information to be identified
  • Give details of matters in relation to which the person believes the information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading
  • Give the person's reasons for holding that belief
  • Give details of the amendment that the person wishes to have made
  • Give an address in Australia to which notices under this Act can be sent
  • Give any other information or details required under the regulations
  • Be lodged at an office of the agency.

The new application must state whether the amendment is made by:

  • Altering information;
  • Striking out or deleting information;
  • Inserting information;
  • Inserting a note in relation to information; or
  • In two or more of those ways.

Office of the Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner is an independent officer who reports directly to Parliament. The main function of the Office of the Information Commissioner is to deal with complaints about decisions made by agencies in respect of access applications and applications for the amendment of personal information.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that agencies are aware of their responsibilities under the FOI Act
  • Ensuring that members of the public are aware of the FOI Act and their rights
  • Providing assistance to Members of the public and agencies on matters relevant to the FOI Act
  • Recommending to Parliament legislative or administrative changes that could be made to help the objectives of the FOI Act be achieved.

Office of the Information Commissioner
Albert Facey House
469 Wellington Street
PERTH WA 6000

Tel: (08) 6551 7888
Toll Free: 1800 621 244 (Western Australia only)
Fax: (08) 6551 7889
info@foi.wa.gov.au
www.foi.wa.gov.au