Frequently asked questions - Official Information Act requests

What can I request?

The Official Information Act (OIA) sets out your rights to request official information. ‘Official information’ means any information held by the New Zealand Police, including:

  • Reports, memos, letters, notes, advice and emails
  • Materials like tape recordings, videos, or computer records
  • Internal policies or guidelines for decision making, and
  • Reasons for decisions made about you.

Can I request for information on historic abuse?

Please use the Privacy Act Request form. On the online form, choose 'Police National Headquarters' as your District.

How do I know if you are the right agency?

The Ministry of Justice’s directory of official information is a useful guide on the functions of different government agencies, including Police.

How long will it take?

We will acknowledge your request and are required by law to give you our decision on your request as soon as possible and no later than 20 working days after we receive your request (unless an extension is made). If we are releasing information to you, we will do so without undue delay.

If we need more time to make our decision, for example if you are requesting a lot of information, we will let you know and give you an idea of how long it will take.

What does it cost?

Requesting official information is free, though we can charge a reasonable amount if it will take a lot of work to supply the information requested.  These charges must be reasonable, and may reflect some of the cost of labour (including to retrieve and collect the information) and materials in meeting your request.  The Ministry of Justice provides charging guidelines for OIAs.

How do I change my request?

If you would like to change your request, then you can contact us and make a change. If you do change your request we will let you know whether this will impact on the time it will take to respond.

Can I request information in a specific format?

You can ask for information to be provided to you in a specific format. We will do our best to provide the information in the format you requested.

If we don’t provide it in the way you requested, we must explain why.

What if I’m not satisfied?

You are welcome to contact us in the first instance to see if we can resolve the issue.

You can also make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman if you have concerns regarding the decision we made on your request or if you were unhappy about the way your request was treated or processed.

These concerns can relate to the withholding of information, extending the timeframe to respond to you, any charges for providing the information you have requested, delays in providing you with a decision or the information, or your request being transferred.

The Office of the Ombudsman can investigate and review our decision and make a recommendation to us if it is considered appropriate.


How Police will respond to an Official Information Act request

What happens if you are not the right agency?

If we do not have the information you have asked for and we think that another agency or Minister may have the information, we will transfer your request to them. We may also transfer your request if we believe the information you have asked for is more closely connected with the functions of another agency or Minister.

We will do this promptly and within 10 working days. We will let you know if we have transferred your request and who we have transferred it to.

What if you don’t understand my request?

If we don’t understand your request we will get in contact to clarify the information you have asked for.

How do you make a decision on a request?

We will locate the information you have asked for and review it carefully. We may need to consult others (for example, other agencies or people who may be affected by the release of information) in order to make our decision on your request.

When will you refuse a request or withhold information?

We will make the information you request available unless there is a reason why we are unable to do so (for example, the information isn’t held or can’t be found or doesn’t exist) or there is ‘good reason’ for withholding it. Administrative reasons for refusing requests are set out in Section 18 of the Official Information Act 1982

Good reasons for withholding information are also specified in the legislation (sections 6 and 9). They apply when release would harm a protected interest such as the maintenance of the law, personal privacy, confidentiality, or commercial interests.

Some reasons for withholding are subject to a ‘public interest test’ [section 9(1)]. As part of our decision on your request we will consider whether there are public interest considerations that mean we should release the information. We will balance the public interest against the harm that we see from release of the information. If the public interest is greater than the harm we see, then we will release the information.

If you are requesting information about someone else (i.e. a third party) or other sensitive information, Police needs to consider whether disclosure of the information is authorised or in the public interest - the request for information is likely to be refused if you do not provide the signed consent of the person concerned (including evidence of his or her identity), or evidence of relationship, or reasons for the request.

When we refuse your request or withhold information, we will tell you which part of the OIA applies.


Related links

Ready to make your request?

You can either complete an online form, or download the Request for Official Information form.