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New local datasets on public authority FOI appeals published

News release: 7 November 2011

The Scottish Information Commissioner has published the most detailed statistics on appeals made to him against public authorities since Scotland's FOI laws came into force in 2005.  The new statistics are available in the online version of the Commissioner's Annual Report 2010/11, published on 2 November 2011.  The data is organised by region, so it is easy to see statistics for all public authorities in a particular location.  Sector-based tables also allow comparisons to be made between a local public authority (for example, a heath board, police force or local council) and similar authorities elsewhere in Scotland.  This year, for the first time, the data is broken down by financial year, making it possible to examine year on year trends and see if appeals relating to individual authorities are on the rise or in decline.  The public authority data tables can be found at: Public authority data

Mr Dunion said:

"At a time when there is a strong movement towards more open public data, people want to know how well their local service providers are responding to information requests.  These statistics will allow local people to see, in considerable detail, how many appeals I am receiving, the outcomes of those cases, and how this is changing over time."

Mr Dunion said that statistics published in his Annual Report 2010/11 also show that appeals to his office are on the rise, with appeals in the first 3 months of 2011 20% higher than predicted.  Noting that there are a growing number of appeals relating to employment, finance and expenses, he said:

"Cuts in public expenditure may lead to more people using their rights to ask for information concerning matters affecting their jobs and services, with authorities having to respond to such requests despite constrained staff resources and training budgets."

Ends

For further information contact the Commissioner's Media Team on 01334 464610, out of hours on 07976 511752, or email media@itspublicknowledge.info

Notes to Editors:
Key highlights from the Annual Report 2010/11
  • This is the Commissioner's eighth annual report and his last before leaving office in February 2012.
  • The report was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 28 October 2011.
  • It is the first to report on the financial year (April 2010 to March 2011).  Previous annual reports have reported on calendar year.  The last annual report, for 2010, was published in March 2011.
  • You can view the online version of the Annual Report 2010/11, and download a PDF copy, at Annual Report 2010/11.

About the public authority statistics

  • There are two sets of data ? by region and by sector.  Each dataset is broken down by financial year from 2004/5.  Data has only been available for a single aggregated time period in previous reports.
  • The statistics show: the number of appeals; what happens to the appeals once they are received, and the outcomes, including whether the Commissioner found in favour of the public authority or the applicant.
  • Check out your own local public authorities, and see how they compare against others in their sector across Scotland.

Other key highlights:

  • The Commissioner's office has responded to over 10,000 enquiries since FOISA came into force in 2005.
  • 80% of enquiries in 2010/11 came from members of the general public ? only 8% were from the media and 1% from elected members.
  • The number of applications relating to employment, finance and expenses has grown from 15% of applications in 2009/10 to 24% in 2010/11.
  • The volume of applications is growing ? 126 in the first three months of 2011, against a predicted 105.
  • Most applications ? 75% - come from members of the general public.
  • The number of cases closed with decision increased by 47%, from 179 cases closed in 2009/10 to 263 in 2010/11.
  • The Commissioner's office has undertaken 26 practice assessments to the end of March 2011 ? 42% of which were of local government bodies.
  • The average age of cases open at the end of 2010/11 was 4.4 months ? the lowest since FOISA came into force.
  • Only 17% of cases under investigation were over six months old at the end of 2010/11, compared to 36% in the preceding financial year.
About the Scottish Information Commissioner

Kevin Dunion was appointed as the first Scottish Information Commissioner in February 2003.  In February 2008 he was reappointed for a second, and final term.  He is responsible for enforcing and promoting Scotland's freedom of information laws.  Kevin will demit office in February 2012.  Find out more about his work and FOI generally at www.itspublicknowledge.info

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