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Scottish Borders Council turns FOI compliance around

News Release: 7 December 2010

The Scottish Information Commissioner has welcomed a report showing that Scottish Borders Council has improved its performance in complying with freedom of information (FOI) requirements, to the extent that it is now demonstrating some exemplary practice.

In 2009, the Council had only complied with the statutory 20 working days allowed for responding to FOI requests in 71% of cases. Between 1 June and 31 October 2010, however, the Council had improved this performance to 99.7%

It has also implemented improvements in its staff training, systems and guidance for the public on making information requests to the Council.

The improvements follow an on-site practice assessment at the Council, undertaken by the Commissioner's staff, in February. Practice assessments help the Commissioner identify where an authority is failing to comply with FOI laws, and then work with the authority to agree an action plan to improve its practice and achieve compliance.

The Commissioner issued his first Practice Recommendation to the Council following the assessment, calling for specific practice improvements, including compliance with statutory timescales.

Kevin Dunion, Scottish Information Commissioner, said:

"The turnaround at Scottish Borders Council is highly commendable, and shows what can be achieved when we work together. Practice assessments are a vital part of my enforcement strategy which aims to help authorities improve their response to freedom of information requests from the public. Good practice reduces the number of appeals that people have to make to me, reduces the burden on authorities and gets information into the hands of the public more quickly."

He added:

"Scottish Borders Council has adopted a very positive attitude to the requirements I set out in the Practice Recommendation I issued in July and I would like to acknowledge the effort which has gone into securing these marked improvements in performance."

Ends

Notes to Editors

 

[1] The relevant Codes of Practice are the Scottish Ministers' Code of Practice on the Discharge of Functions by Public Authorities Under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 ('the section 60 Code of Practice') and the Code of Practice on the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 for Scottish Public Authorities ('the section 62 Code of Practice').

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