Decisions Round-up: 18 to 22 January 2016

The benefits of clear communication are again highlighted in this week's round-up.

For both requesters and authorities, taking the time to read over correspondence before sending, ensuring that it's as clear and helpful as possible, always help things run more smoothly.  And not only that, it will reduce the chance of problems at a later date...

Key messages:

  • Try to keep things simple
    This is relevant to both requesters and public authorities. For requesters, your requests will be easier to manage and reply to if they are sent separately, and not added to ongoing correspondence. It can also help if the full background to the request is set out, instead of referring the authority to previous requests and correspondence.

    And for authorities, if you receive confusing and overlapping correspondence try explaining to the requester the difficulties this causes, and encourage them to resubmit requests in a format that avoids confusion. In Decision 004/2016, we found that the authority had failed to respond to a request and request for review in time, in a case where the complexity and volume of the correspondence was a factor.


  • If there are reasons why an authority doesn't hold information, it should explain them
    Requesters can often assume that a public authority will hold certain information. If there are clear operational reasons why an authority doesn't hold the information, it should explain this to the requester, to help them understand why their assumptions were wrong. Decisions 005/2016 and 006/2016 are both cases where we accepted that the authority did not hold the information.

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 004/2016 Mr P and City of Edinburgh Council
    Mr P asked about advertising stations which were allegedly being operated in an illegal way. Mr P did not receive a response to his request or request for review within the statutory timescales. The Council explained that the high number and complexity of requests which Mr P had submitted had contributed to its failure to meet the timescales for response.


  • Decision 005/2016 Mr Graham Sorbie and Transport Scotland
    Mr Sorbie asked for information about parking restrictions near Hampden Park. Transport Scotland provided some information and said it did not hold other information that Mr Sorbie had asked for, explaining that Glasgow City Council is responsible for traffic regulation orders. After investigation, we accepted this.


  • Decision 006/2016 Mr Marc Ellison and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland
    Mr Ellison asked for information about discussions on redacting a report on rendition flights. Police Scotland initially failed to respond, but then advised Mr Ellison that they did not hold the information he had asked for. Following an investigation, we accepted this.

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