Freedom of Information Act 2014

Law enforcement and public safety

32. (1) A head may refuse to grant an FOI request if access to the record concerned could, in the opinion of the head, reasonably be expected to—

(a) prejudice or impair—

(i) the prevention, detection or investigation of offences, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders or the effectiveness of lawful methods, systems, plans or procedures employed for the purposes of the matters aforesaid,

(ii) the enforcement of, compliance with or administration of any law,

(iii) lawful methods, systems, plans or procedures for ensuring the safety of the public and the safety or security of persons and property,

(iv) the fairness of criminal proceedings in a court or of civil proceedings in a court or other tribunal,

(v) the security of a penal institution,

(vi) the security of a children detention school within the meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 2001 ,

(vii) the security of a remand centre designated under section 88 of the Children Act 2001 ,

(viii) the security of the Central Mental Hospital,

(ix) the security of a building or other structure or a vehicle, ship, boat or aircraft, or

(x) the security of any system of communications, whether internal or external, of the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, the Revenue Commissioners or a penal institution,

(b) endanger the life or safety of any person, or

(c) facilitate the commission of an offence.

(2) Where an FOI request relates to a record to which subsection (1) applies, or would, if the record existed, apply, and the head concerned is satisfied that the disclosure of the existence or non-existence of the record would have an effect specified in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of that subsection, he or she shall refuse to grant the request and shall not disclose to the requester concerned whether or not the record exists.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a record—

(a) if it—

(i) discloses that an investigation for the purpose of the enforcement of any law, or anything done in the course of such an investigation or for the purposes of the prevention or detection of offences or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, is not authorised by law or contravenes any law, or

(ii) contains information concerning—

(I) the performance of the functions of an FOI body whose functions include functions relating to the enforcement of law or the ensuring of the safety of the public (including the effectiveness and efficiency of such performance), or

(II) the merits or otherwise or the success or otherwise of any programme, scheme or policy of an FOI body for preventing, detecting or investigating contraventions of the law or the effectiveness or efficiency of the implementation of any such programme, scheme or policy by an FOI body,


(b) in the opinion of the head concerned, the public interest would, on balance, be better served by granting than by refusing to grant the request concerned.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) “penal institution” means any or all of the following:

(a) a place to which the Prisons Acts 1826 to 2007 apply;

(b) a military prison or detention barrack within the meaning, in each case, of the Defence Act 1954 ;

(c) Saint Patrick’s Institution.