Decisions Round-up: 20 to 24 July 2015

 Are your reviews unbiased? One of our cases this week required us to consider alleged bias at review. See what we made of the review process in question in this week's Decisions Round-up.

Key messages:

  • Make sure you respond to the whole of the request
    It's important that authorities respond to every part of a request. In Decision 112/2015, the authority forgot to respond to part of a request. This became clear during the investigation and led to the authority disclosing information to the requester. Time could have been saved if this had been done right at the start.
  • Reviews need to be unbiased
    In Decision 112/2015, the requester thought the review had been biased because, in his view, the person who conducted the review could not reach an independent decision. The requester did not explain why the reviewer was incapable of conducting an unbiased review. The request and request for review had been responded to by different people, and a modified response was given at review. All in all, we were satisfied that the review complied with good practice.

    For guidance on handling reviews, see chapter 10 of the Scottish Ministers' Section 60 Code of Practice.

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 110/2015 Cameron Brooks and the Scottish Police Authority (the SPA)
    Mr Brooks asked the SPA for the full, raw data results used to compile the Police Firearms Survey carried out by the research group TNS. Following an investigation, we were satisfied that the SPA did not hold the information.
  • Decision 111/2015 Mr X and South Lanarkshire Council
    Mr X asked the Council about a neighbour's dog entering his garden. Mr X did not believe that the Council had responded to his request for review within the timescales allowed by the FOI Act. Having checked the metadata created with the email sent by the Council, we were satisfied that the response was sent in time.
  • Decision 112/2015 Mr H and the Scottish Prison Service (the SPS)
    Mr H asked the SPS about payments made to prisoners. The SPS told Mr H it didn't hold all of the information he had asked for - but that the information it did hold was already accessible to him, meaning that the SPS did not need to provide him with a copy. We agreed that information was accessible to Mr H. However, it became clear that the SPS had not responded to part of Mr H's request. This led to the SPS disclosing additional information to Mr H during the investigation.
  • Decision 113/2015 Mr V and the City of Edinburgh Council
    Mr V asked the Council for remediation reports on a completed development. We found that the Council failed to respond to Mr V's request for review within the timescales allowed by the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

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