Decisions Round-up: 17 to 21 September 2012

A round-up of the key learning points from the decisions issued this week.


Key messages:

  • Communication is essential to efficient FOI
    FOI places a statutory obligation on bodies to respond to requests (and requests for review) within 20 working days. In establishing FOI processes, make sure that there are clear lines of responsibility in relation to each stage of request-handling, in order to ensure that important deadlines aren't overlooked or missed. In two decisions published this week (Decision 156/2012 & Decision 157/2012), failures in staff communication were held responsible for subsequent failures to comply with timescales.
  • Make sure you know what information you hold
    The FOI right applies to the information held at the time a request is made. Make sure your records management complies with the Section 61 Code, so that you know what information you hold and whether changes have been made to a record and when. Telling an applicant that you don't hold information when you do may lead to allegations that an offence has been committed under section 65. (Decision 155/2012)


Summary of decisions:

  • Decision 155/2012 - Mr Sandy Longmuir and Aberdeenshire Council
    Mr Longmuir requested a copy of a DVD from the Council. The Council disclosed an edited version of the DVD, at the same time informing Mr Longmuir that it no longer held the full version. During the Commissioner's investigation, it was established that the Council did in fact hold the full version of the DVD. Our decision requires the disclosure of the DVD to Mr Longmuir, with additional footage included.The decision also expresses a number of serious concerns about Aberdeenshire Council's handling of the request.
  • Decision 156/2012 - Mr Q and the Scottish Ministers
    A technical decision concerning the Ministers' failure to respond to a request for review within the FOI Act's 20-working day timescale.
  • Decision 157/2012 - Mr James Proctor and Ms Freya Lees and the City of Edinburgh Council
    A second technical decision in which we found that the Council failed to respond within the appropriate timescales.

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