New "one stop shop" guidance on freedom of information launches today

19 April 2011


The Scottish Information Commissioner today launches an online "one-stop shop" for members of the public looking for guidance on their freedom of information (FOI) rights, and how to ask for information from Scotland's public authorities.

The new "You only have to ask" web pages provide step-by-step guidance on freedom of information rights, and how to use them.  Members of the public can also view case studies showing how other people have used those rights, and download "Your Right to Know", the Commissioner's comprehensive guide to FOI, updated this year.

In addition, the new site also has a short animated guide, or "infographic" which tells the story of an FOI request in just over two minutes ? setting out who is covered by FOI, what kind of information you can ask for ? and what you can do if your request is refused.  Not only can visitors to the Commissioner's website view the animated guide but it is available to download onto any website free of charge ? so public authorities, voluntary groups and local media can show it on their own websites to help the public understand their FOI rights.

Kevin Dunion , the Scottish Information Commissioner said

"Everyone has the right to information held by Scottish public authorities ? it's not just for the expert few ? but for some people exercising their rights, it can be a daunting prospect. In fact the process of making an information request, or an appeal to me, is very simple. I hope that visitors to my website will see stories of how others have used their rights to access information, and be inspired to make their own requests for information they want to see. And when they do, the animated guide and step by step guidance will help make the process easy and straightforward.

I encourage public authorities, voluntary groups and others to use our animated guide on their own websites to spread the word."

The new developments respond to a Qualitative study of Commissioner's website conducted in late 2010 which suggested that, while the Commissioner's website contained plenty of helpful guidance, it was sometimes difficult for members of the public to find it.  The animated guide can be downloaded


Notes to Editors

Qualitative research

Focus groups held in November 2010 found that members of the public primarily use the Commissioner's website to find out what their rights to information are, and for instructions on what to do if they want to ask for information, or make an appeal to the Commissioner.  The research found that guidance on most of these matters is available across the site, but was sometimes difficult for the public to find.

Responding to these findings, a dedicated "one stop shop" section for members of the public has been developed, with easy access to a range of resources to tell the public about their rights, and a step by step guide on how to use them.

The new site features:

  • easier access, step-by-step guidance on FOI rights and how to ask for information
  • video stories showing how others have used their rights to information
  • a comprehensive, downloadable guide to FOI, "Your Right to Know", newly updated this year
  • access to dedicated resources for voluntary organisations, the media and elected members
  • downloadable guidance on FOI rights in 10 community languages
  • an animated guide to FOI ("infographic").

In addition to these new developments, the page retains existing features:

  • a "response calculator" to allow individuals to calculate when they can expect a response to a request they have made,
  • access to advice on asking for personal information
  • the quick 3-step guide to requesting information


A short animated guide showing how FOI works in Scotland has been added to the new "Your Rights" section, following the successful use of a longer version in the March 2011 campaign to launch the Commissioner's Annual Report 2010.

This "infographic" can be downloaded from the video-sharing site Vimeo and used on any website. It should provide a useful tool for public authorities wanting to assist members of the public in making requests effectively, and for civil society groups wanting to help their client groups use their rights to information. The infographic is also designed to be easily used by any group for training purposes, for example by journalists or local elected members.

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