Civil society research

First Phase Findings

The Commissioner is supporting the University of Strathclyde to undertake a three-year research study to explore the extent to which campaign groups and voluntary sector organisations make use of FOI legislation.

There is evidence to suggest that FOI may be being underused by the sector. In 2009, for example, only 2% of the appeals received by the Commissioner came from the sector, while the sector was responsible for only 3% of enquiries.

The key findings from the first phase of this study, which measured awareness and use of FOI within the sector, are set out below.

For more information on the Civil Society research project.

* This question was asked of the 358 respondents who reported to have made a request.

** This question was asked of the 117 respondents who reported that a request was refused.

Causes for concern

50% of voluntary sector respondents reported that they would be discouraged from making a request because of a fear that it might harm working and/or funding relations.

It is also concerning to note that 55% of respondents reported that they were not advised of their right of appeal when a request was refused, despite there being a statutory obligation on authorities to do so. Of those who did appeal, 26% also reported that they were not told of their subsequent right of appeal to the Commissioner.