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Round-up iconDecisions Round-up: 18 to 22 April 2016

 

Will release really cause harm? If so, you need to prove it. This week's Round-up features a case where the authority didn't provide any evidence to support its application of an exemption.

 

Key messages:

  • Authorities must clearly explain why each exemption applies
    If an authority withholds information because it believes that releasing it would be harmful, it must name the exemption it is applying, and then explain what harm would occur and why the harm is likely. In Decision 084/2016 the authority failed to provide any evidence to support its claim that release would substantially prejudice the apprehension or prosecution of offenders (section 35(1)(b)).

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 084/2016 Mr N and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland)
    Mr N asked Police Scotland for information about its back-end software and operating systems. Police Scotland withheld the information under section 35(1)(a) and (b) of the FOI Act, which are exemptions relating to the prevention or detection of crime and the apprehension or prosecution of offenders. Following our investigation we agreed that Police Scotland were entitled to withhold the requested information under section 35(1)(a) of FOISA. We also commented, however, that it had failed to provide any arguments for the application of section 35(1)(b).
  • Decision 085/2016 Ms X and the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (the SCTS)
    Ms X asked the SCTS for statistics about jury service. The SCTS told Ms X that it would cost to provide her with the information and it was therefore not obliged to comply. Following our investigation we agreed that the SCTS was entitled to do this.

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