The following page contains a transcript of Kevin Dunion's commentary from the video which is available on the homepage of this site. To view the video directly, visit the homepage.
"It's been a really busy twelve months and I've received 421 applications. That represents a 15% increase over the previous year – the first year on year increase since the Act came into effect.
We're really focussed on bringing down the age of the cases that are with me and, in particular, speeding up the processing of appeals. Now cases are closed, on average, within 5 months – and that's a real improvement on the figure that we had 2 years ago. This is a great benefit, of course, to applicants – who want to get information as quickly as possible.
Of the 160 decisions that I've taken formally in the course of the year, in over two thirds of the cases I've found in favour of the applicant – either in full or in part. That shows the real benefit of appealing to me as Commissioner if you're not satisfied with the response you get from a public authority to a request that you've made to them.
The really interesting cases which I've come to decisions on have included, for example, the Scottish Rural Schools Network who wanted to find out why schools were to be closed in their area, and they got it through a freedom of information request, and a decision by me.
I've also ordered the release of the financial models for the Kilmarnock private prison, which went to the trade union Unison, and an individual employee wanted information about the job evaluation scores for his post where he worked in a local authority area. He got that too. And finally, an Edinburgh disability charity wanted information about why their funding had been cut, and I was able to order that to be released.
One thing which has really impressed me this year is the fact that public authorities are now releasing a lot of information to people, without them having to appeal to me, and that information is often very important – not just to the individual, but to Scotland generally. So, for example, we're now seeing important health information being given to relatives and campaigners concerned about the hospital acquired infections that have caused so many deaths across Scotland over the past few years. This has led to the setting up of the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate. That has all come about because of an FOI request releasing statistics about the number of deaths in Scotland's hospitals as a result of hospital acquired infections.
One really positive development this year has been the announcement by the Scottish Government that it intends to extend the freedom of information act to a range of bodies not currently covered by the legislation. So, for example, they are looking at bringing in the Glasgow Housing Association. They are also looking to include local authority trusts, such as those providing leisure, recreation, sporting and care services. They're also considering including private contractors who build and maintain Scotland's schools and hospitals.
I really hope the Government go ahead with this, because it will be an excellent development to have these bodies – which the public want information on – to be covered by the freedom of information act."