Statement on Openness and Transparency

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a non-departmental public body operating with a Board of Trustees under the National Heritage Act, and under the sponsorship of The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is committed to promoting and actively developing a culture of openness, transparency and customer focus. Our approach aims to help the public and our partners understand and be involved in our work.

To this end, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will:

•  Pro-actively publish and release information. Kew published a vast amount of information both for specialists and for the public. In addition, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires us, mainly through our Publications Scheme, to pro-actively publish other documents and information. We will review periodically what we publish and take account of demand for information. We will publish information cost effectively in ways appropriate to the needs of the intended audience.

•  Use language appropriate to the intended audience . Where there are different audiences, different approaches will be considered (for example, full detail for specialists, summaries for the general reader). We will seek to communicate in plain language and avoid the use of jargon where not appropriate.

•  Make it as easy as possible to find information. We will make material available on our website. We will continue to improve our website to make it as user friendly as possible to enable people to find the information they want quickly and easily, and we will, when necessary, draw attention to publication of information using other media as appropriate.

•  Consult openly and widely as far as it appropriate and practical. We will continue to engage with our diverse stakeholders as much as is practical. We will keep them informed of progress, seek feedback and consult within the limits of our resources with regard to levels of stakeholder interest. We will also continue to hold at least one open meeting a year to present our work or to discuss specific plans.

•  Publish our research in peer-reviewed scientific journals promptly and in line with scientific best practice and any relevant contractual agreements.

•  Publish our targets and achievements and monitor our performance against them promptly and openly in our Annual Report. We actively seek and welcome feedback from all stakeholders including the general public. We will also continue, and keep under review, our regular programmes of customer research.

•  Strive to answer requests that are reasonable and specific. We will treat all requests fairly and without prejudice taking into account the public interest in making information available wherever possible.

•  Give a clear explanation of our decision if information cannot be published or released . We will also tell people how to complain if they do not agree with any decision not to release information.

•  Not normally charge for replying to information requests unless in answering the request we would incur significant costs for materials or for presenting information in a specifically requested format. Our charges will be determined by the Access to Information legislation as set out in the Publication Scheme or agreed in advance for information released on request.

Access to whom?

Any person or organisation may apply for, and receive, information held by us. They do not need to be UK citizens or bodies, or to be resident in the country, or to prove an interest in obtaining the information. We will seek to be responsive within the limits of our resources and within the limits of relevant regulations.

Information that cannot be released

There are certain types of information that may remain confidential. The Environmental Information Regulations 1992, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998 set out the circumstances in which a request for information may be refused. For example we cannot release information that affects other legal rights or processes, particularly where personal privacy may be breached. We cannot release information where it is likely that doing so could lead to damage to the environment or sensitive species being harmed. We must also protect Kew's intellectual property and commercial enterprises. We will only take decisions not to release information after careful consideration and give our reasons clearly in writing.

Responsibilities

It is our responsibility to ensure that:

•  Our staff are aware of this Access to Information Statement.

•  Our staff are aware of the law and the guidance available on accessibility issues.

•  Information is managed as far as possible to facilitate retrieval and disclosure.

•  Material for the Publications Scheme and websites is regularly updated and improved.

•  The content and style of documents produced internally is such that they are suitable for disclosure.

•  Requests for information are dealt with fairly and promptly.

•  Requests for and decisions on release of information are recorded.

•  Decisions not to release information are properly taken and clearly communicated.

•  Complaints about refusal to release are reviewed impartially via the Director, Corporate Operations and Finance.

The Director, Corporate Operations and Finance is The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Access to Information Champion and is responsible for promoting this statement and ensuring it is consistent with new legislative and other requirements. He/she will liaise with the Director of Communications and Commercial Activities to ensure that this statement is operationalised.

The Heads of Department Team will monitor requests and responses.

January 2006