Decisions Round-up: 19 to 30 January 2015


We published seven decisions between 19 and 30 January – details, links and learning points below.


         Key messages:

  • Respond on time – it’s important
    FOI law imposes specified timescales for responding to information requests and requests for review.  Five of the decisions noted in this Decisions Round-up relate to an authority’s failure to respond on time. See decisions 006/2015, 007/2015, 009/2015, 0010/2015 and 013/2015.

    Authorities can increase the likelihood of responding to requests on time if:

    • a named senior officer is responsible at a strategic level for compliance with FOI across the authority and all senior staff are accountable for compliance with FOI law
    • clear targets are set for response times and senior managers monitor performance against them and performance is reported at the appropriate level(s) of the authority
    • there is a system for logging requests and reviews, where the system records the dates by which responses (internal and external) are due and issued
    • the tracking system is used to monitor performance against timescales and action is taken to reduce the risk of potential delays and late responses
    • staff receive thorough training according to their needs, and
    • there are sufficient staff resources to respond on time to requests and reviews.

      For more information on how you can improve your response times, authorities should visit our new Self-Assessment Toolkit webpage here.

  • Authorities may not have the information you expect
    Requesters are sometimes disappointed to find that authorities don’t hold the information they expect. Authorities create information to meet their business needs. If you’re unsure what an authority might hold on a particular topic, you can ask them for advice and assistance to frame your request. We found examples of this in decisions 008/2015 and 011/2015.


    Decisions issued:

  • Decision 006/2015 Doris Thomson and East Dunbartonshire Council
    Miss Thomson asked for information about a street inspection. We found that the Council failed to respond to Miss Thomson’s review request within 20 working days.


  • Decision 007/2015 Stephen Tarr and East Dunbartonshire Council
    Mr Tarr asked for information about risk assessments for a school and nursery. In this case the Council failed to respond to the request and request for review within the timescales allowed for under the Act.  


  • Decision 008/2015 Ms Fiona Powell and City of Edinburgh Council
    Ms Powell asked the Council for a breakdown of quantities and items for each of five statutory notices.  The Council informed Ms Powell that it had already provided her with all the breakdown information it held. Following our investigation we accepted that the Council had carried out adequate and proportionate searches and that no further information was held.


  • Decision 009/2015 Public and Commercial Services Union and the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland (NMS)
    The Union asked NMS for information about new posts.  We found that NMS failed to respond on time to the Union’s review request. 


  • Decision 010/2015 Mr Roy Mackay and Scottish Borders Council
    Mr Mackay asked the Council for information about consultation with the Sheriff Principal on curator ad litem appointments.  We found that the Council failed to respond on time to Mr Mackay’s review request. 


  • Decision 011/2015 Mr Gerard Sweeney and the Scottish Court Service (SCS)
    Mr Sweeney asked the SCS for information about client consultation facilities at courts.  He did not believe the SCS had given him all the relevant information it held.  Following investigation, we found that it had.


  • Decision 013/2015 Mr Calum Liddle and Live Active Leisure
    Mr Liddle asked Live Active Leisure for information about its handling of freedom of information requests.  We found that Live Active Leisure failed to respond on time to Mr Liddle’s request or his request for review. 

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