Decisions Round-up: 5 to 9 October 2015

If it's not published, then it shouldn't be listed in a publication scheme Guide to Information. It's a simple rule, but it's also one that authorities can often get wrong. Find out more in this week's Decisions Round-up.

Key messages:

  • Publication schemes only apply to information that's ready and available to the public
    Publication schemes and Guides to Information are about published information - information that's prepared already and is readily accessible to anyone, without having to make a request. Any research and information services provided by a public authority which involve creating new information (i.e. information that does not exist until someone asks for it to be created) can't be included under a publication scheme. We considered this in Decision 153/2015.
  • Remember - your personal data can be anything "about" you
    Any information about you will be your own personal data - for example, information about your health or medical treatment. Your own personal data will always be exempt from disclosure under FOI - the appropriate route to get it will be through a subject access request under the Data Protection Act. This was one of the points we considered in Decision 152/2015.

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 151/2015 Phil Cavan and West Lothian Council
    Mr Cavan asked the Council for information provided to a lawyer and advice received from the lawyer about a housing estate. The Council withheld the information because it was subject to legal professional privilege: we agreed that it was correct to do so.
  • Decision 152/2015 Mr B and Lothian Health Board (NHS Lothian)
    Mr B asked NHS Lothian for information about a doctor who conducted a specialist assessment. NHS Lothian refused to provide the information, claiming it was personal data. We found that NHS Lothian was correct to withhold the information. Some of it was Mr B's own personal data. The rest was the personal data of other people and disclosing it would breach the data protection principles.
  • Decision 153/2015 Q and Aberdeen City Council
    Q asked the Council whether there had been any building warrants applied for or granted for a named property since 1994. The Council informed Q that it would cost £70 to provide this information, the standard fee for its Property History search service, which it said it was entitled to charge under its publication scheme.

    We found that the Council could not charge for a search service under its publication scheme, because the service involved creating new information that did not already exist, so could not have been "published" under the publication scheme.

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