FOI 15092023-2 – Pseudo-random selection of 50 emails across 50 email addresses


“Using a pseudo-random sampling method (e.g. getting an excel spreadsheet,  using a .random() method or something comparable), please select 50  different email addresses operated/used by yourselves and from which  emails can be sent and received. After this, please pseudo-randomly select 1 email in each of these inboxes (such as through using an excel  spreadsheet, using a .random() method or something comparable to  pseudo-randomly generate numbers, constrained by the number of emails in  each of the inboxes, which can then be used to retrieve the corresponding  email from those inboxes). Then, consider releasing those 50  pseudo-randomly selected emails (in a redacted form or otherwise) in  response to this FOI request. When or if you share the (redacted) content  associated with those email addresses, consider listing / revealing the  email addresses that are already available in the public domain.”


This request is not valid as it does not describe the recorded information  requested. If you were to refine your request to specify for example all  emails sent by a member of the Office of the Northamptonshire Police, Fire  and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) between XXX date and XXX date, this would  be valid, as the parameters of the recorded information being asked for  are defined. Equally, if you were to ask for a copy of the first 10 emails  sent on a specific day or the last 10 emails sent on a specific day, then  this would also be valid, as the recorded information you require is  clearly described.

But the request as it stands asks for the OPFCC to choose a random email  and provide it. It is not for public authorities to select the information  that they provide and therefore our view is that the request is currently  not valid by virtue of Section(8)(1)(c) of the Freedom of Information Act  requires that a request for information must adequately describe the  information sought.