Code of Openness

The independent VRC is committed to openness and transparency in responding to all requests for information. Our policy is to facilitate public understanding and involvement in our work overseeing surveillance work for residues of authorised veterinary medicines and other substances.


Introduction

The VRC is proactive in voluntarily publishing and releasing information. In addition to our normal publications the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires us, mainly through our Publication Scheme, to publish other documents and information. The VRC complies with this. This document gives a brief overview of our activities and the information we provide, and explains how to gain access to it.

The VRC is an advisory non-departmental public body (NDPB) established in2001 to ensure that there is independent scrutiny in the surveillance for veterinary residues in the UK. The Committee provides a source of advice for the Chief Executives of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Food Standards Agency on the residues surveillance programmes, and the significance of the results for consumer safety.


The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into force on 1/1/05. It established a right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities (which includes NDPBs) and imposes obligations to disclose information, subject to certain exemptions.

To be open and proactive about the information we hold, the VRC has developed a publication scheme which contains the following:

  • Classes of information which the VRC publishes
  • How the information will be published
  • Whether the information will be available free of charge or on payment.

Public Meetings

The VRC has had an annual Open meeting since 2004. The committee also has on its website a secretariat address where members of the public can email in questions for the open meeting or any general concerns they may have.


Standards

Accuracy of information

  • We aim to provide independent, accurate and useful information but cannot accept any liability arising from errors, omissions or other cause.

Courtesy and helpfulness

  • We aim to be polite and considerate in our dealings with the public
  • We will always introduce ourselves by name and at public events we will identify ourselves by wearing name badges
  • We will aim to deal with queries courteously and efficiently. If the person you speak to cannot deal with your enquiry in full, you will be passed to someone who can. If necessary we will call you back.

Publications

The VRC routinely publishes all of its information on its website. Every year we publish an Annual Report which is available free of charge and is also posted on the website. This is available from the VRC Secretariat.


What information will not be available?

Sometimes we will have to withhold information if we consider that it is necessary for reasons such as confidentiality, unwarranted invasion of privacy, commercial sensitivity, or for some other legitimate reason. When considering whether or not we have to withhold information, we will take into account the grounds listed in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. We will also consider whether the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it. In any event if we do have to withhold information we will explain why we have done so.


Complaints

We will treat all requests for information on a fair and equal basis and without prejudice. Where we are unable to provide the information you have requested we will explain why and give you details of how you can appeal against our decision.

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