Scottish Information Commissioner to tackle any persistent failings by Scottish public authorities

27 May 2008

The Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, today (27 May 2008) wrote to Scottish public authorities setting out his new Enforcement Strategy which is intended to be used as a basis to identify and take action against authorities which persistently fail to comply with their responsibilities under Scotland's freedom of information legislation (FOI).

Until now the Commissioner has rectified specific failings through his Decision Notices. The Enforcement Strategy is intended to identify and address patterns of persistent failure such as: not recognising freedom of information requests; not responding to requests within the required timescale; inadequate searches for information held; improperly calculating the costs of responding to requests.

Launching the strategy, the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion said:

"While I am heartened that many public authorities are displaying good practice in complying with their obligations under FOI, I want to identify any authorities which are persistently or seriously failing to comply. This enforcement strategy is intended to rectify any poor practice and to ensure that the public's right to information is respected."

The Enforcement Strategy highlights the fact that most authorities subject to the provisions of FOI willingly comply with their obligations, and many will cooperate with the Commissioner in developing an improvement action plan. However if there is no agreement or if the failings are sufficiently serious the Commissioner will use his powers to make a practice recommendation or to issue an enforcement notice against the authority.

The Strategy can be downloaded at:


For further information contact the Commissioner's Media Team on 01334 464610, out of hours, 07976 511752

Notes to Editors:

  • The Scottish Information Commissioner is responsible for the promotion and enforcement of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs).
  • FOISA provides individuals and organisations with a right of access to the information held by Scottish public authorities.
  • Over 10,000 Scottish public authorities are covered by FOISA, including the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government, all 32 Scottish local authorities, the NHS, the Police and educational institutions.
  • Where a requester is unhappy with the response they receive to an information request, they can appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.The Commissioner has the power to force the release of information where he finds that an authority has failed to comply with the Act.The Commissioner has issued over 600 Decision Notices, the majority of which have found some failing in the response of authorities when dealing with requests.
  • Where the Commissioner finds that an authority has persistently or seriously failed to comply with FOISA he may take one of the following actions:
    • Carry out a practice assessment upon a public authority, which will investigate whether the authority is complying with the obligations of FOISA, the EIRs, and associated codes of practice
    • Where an authority is persistently breaching the codes of practice associated with FOISA or the EIRS, the Commissioner may issue a practice recommendation against the authority specifying the steps the Commissioner requires the authority to take in order to comply in future.
    • Where an authority has persistently failed to comply with provisions of FOISA or the EIRs, the Commissioner will issue it with an Enforcement Notice requiring it to take steps to comply with FOISA.


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