Credit: Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 allows journalists to access publicly held data. This can be a potential gold mine of story leads, containing huge datasets on crime statistics and public spending over the years, for example.

Robyn Vinter, founder and editor of investigative journalism website The Overtake, says you can even access information such as records of people falling over on the London Underground.

If you want to take advantage of the information that belongs to you, read Vinter’s expert guide on how to submit an FOI request, including how to word emails and the things that can go wrong.

"They will most likely give you exactly what you ask for, so be careful how you word it. If you want 10 years of data broken down by year, for example, you must specify broken down by year. Don’t assume they’ll read between the lines to give you what you want," she writes.

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