OVER HALF of all Freedom of Information requests sent to Hampshire Constabulary over the previous four years have been refused either in full or in part, new data has revealed.

The statistics have seen the TaxPayers' Alliance remind the force to "make sure they are serving the public" by answering requests where possible.

Statistics given to the Gazette via the FOI process reveal that between 2015 and 2019, Hampshire Constabulary refused, either in full or in part, 3,027 requests - which is roughly 51.2 per cent of all requests submitted in that time.

The worst year in terms of responsiveness was in 2015-16, where over 55 per cent of all requests were refused. On the other hand, in 2017-18, 45.5 per cent of all requests were refused.

The Freedom of Information request gave the public access to a range of information held by public bodies, including government departments, councils and police forces.

There are a number of reasons why bodies can refuse to publish information, including that the information has already been published elsewhere, that the body intends to publish it or that it would cost too much or take too much time.

Under the Act, the body has 20 working days to respond to the request. This 20-day timeline was not met 2 per cent of the time in 2015-16, a figure which has risen to almost eleven per cent in 2018-19.

This has prompted the TaxPayers' Alliance, a centre-right think tank, to remind the force that they should "honour requests where possible."

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers fund every single aspect of government and as such, they deserve it to be open and transparent. Of course, on occasion, there is information that for good reason the police will not be able to release. But they should make sure they are serving the public by honouring requests for information where possible."

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “Hampshire Constabulary believes in being open and transparent, and we take a positive approach to disclosing information whenever possible. There are many factors that are taken into account when calculating whether we will approve a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Unfortunately we do have to refuse some for a variety of reasons, such as the cost or whether or not we can retrieve the data within the 18 hour time limit put on all requests. We also cannot release any information relating to operational data, or people looking for subject access that have gone through Freedom of Information route by mistake.

“As a force we make a conscious effort to disclose all we can, and this is shown by us often releasing information in part when we cannot release a full request despite there being no requirement for us to do so in law.”