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Launch of New FOI tool

 

News Release: 21 December 2016

The Scottish Information Commissioner is making it easier to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) appeal, with the launch of an online appeal service. This, the first online service of its kind in the UK, is available at www.itspublicknowledge.info/Appeal or from the Commissioner's homepage.

Requesters can use it to appeal if their requests are refused or if they are unhappy with the way their requests were handled by public authorities.

Examples of information revealed by recent FOI requests include:

  • waiting list numbers and times for chronic pain services; and
  • the number of "red-flagged" addresses where ambulance crews need police support.

Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew said:

"The new online appeal service speeds up appeals by making sure the user gives us all of the information we need at the very beginning, allowing us to start investigating as quickly as possible.

The new online appeal service is available 24/7 and gives users help and advice as they go along.

We want FOI to work as well as possible for users, giving them access to the information they need, when they need it."

ENDS

For further information contact the Commissioner's press team on 01334 464610, out of hours on 01334 464619, or email media@itspublicknowledge.info.

 

Notes to editors

Appeal Service imagery

Online appeal service image 1Online appeal service image 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

High resolution copies of these photographs can be downloaded from http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/home/SICResources/Images.aspx

About the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

  • The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 provides individuals with a right to receive the information held by Scottish public authorities.
  • The Act applies to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government, all 32 local authorities, the NHS in Scotland, Police Scotland, colleges and universities, and many other organisations.
  • Under FOI, any written request for information must be responded to within 20 working days.
  • Information can only be withheld where the FOI Act expressly permits it. Information can be withheld, for example, where its release would breach someone's right to privacy under data protection legislation, or where it would harm national security or an organisation's commercial interests. Even where an exemption applies, in most cases the Act also says that information must be released if it is in the public interest to do so.
  • If the requester is unhappy with an FOI response, they can (after first asking the authority to review its handling of the request) appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.
  • On receipt of an appeal, the Commissioner will conduct a full investigation. If she finds that the authority has withheld information incorrectly, she can force the authority to release it. She may also uphold the authority's decision to withhold information.

Waiting list information for chronic pain services

  • This information was released following an investigation and issuing of a decision notice by the Commissioner.
  • The Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Chronic Pain asked NHS Dumfries and Galloway for data and statistics about patient waiting list numbers, and waiting times for appointments at the Chronic Pain services. NHS Dumfries and Galloway refused the request on the basis that it did not hold the information.
  • The Commissioner found that NHS Dumfries and Galloway had been wrong to conclude that it did not hold the information: although the data was "unverified" it was covered by the request.

Red-flagged addresses requiring police support for ambulance crews

  • The Scottish Ambulance Service was asked for information on the number of addresses that had been "red-flagged" as requiring police support before ambulance crews or paramedics could enter.
  • The Scottish Ambulance Service did not respond to the request within the timescales required by the FOI Act. The information was disclosed to the requester during the Commissioner's investigation.

About the Scottish Information Commissioner

  • The Scottish Information Commissioner is a public official appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament. The current Scottish Information Commissioner is Rosemary Agnew.
  • The Commissioner is responsible for promoting and enforcing Scotland's freedom of information laws.

 

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