Decisions Round-up: 21 to 25 January 2013

 We published the first seven decisions issued in 2013 this week.


Key messages:

  • If you don't hold the information, can you help the requester to understand why?
    When a request is refused under section 17 (information not held), it can be helpful to provide background information to the requester. This can help them to understand why you don't hold the information, and gain a better understanding of any relevant information you do hold. Such background information was provided by Highland Council in relation to Decision 003/2013.

  • When considering the section 25 exemption (information otherwise accessible) ensure that the information can be reasonably accessed by the requester
    Information must be reasonably obtainable by the requester if it is to fall within the scope of section 25. In Decision 005/2013, we found that information was not reasonably obtainable where there were strict limitations placed on the requester's access to the information. In Decision 004/2013, we concluded that information could be reasonably obtained by the requester from a local school.

  • Remember that the 20 working day "clock" doesn't stop if you need clarification at the review stage
    While you can stop the 20 working day "clock" if you need clarification of an initial request (section 1(3)), the same isn't true at the review stage. You can seek clarification when dealing with a review request, but remember the clock does not stop. The request, including any clarification, must be responded to within 20 working days. (Decision 007/2013)


Summary of decisions:

  • Decision001/2013 - Mr Jim Reyner and Shetland Islands Council
    A short decision, addressing the Council's failure to respond to Mr Reyner's information requests.

  • Decision 002/2013 - Benthic Pelagic Solutions (BPS) Ltd and Perth and Kinross Council
    The company asked for information relating to equipment that BPS had supplied to the Council. We found that the Council had failed to provide all information falling within the scope of the request. Relevant additional information was identified and released during our investigation.

  • Decision 003/2013 - Mr Paul Bova and Highland Council
    Mr Bova sought information from the Council's Highland-wide Local Development Plan, in relation to a specific site. Our investigation concluded that the Council did not hold the information sought by Mr Bova.

  • Decision 004/2013 - Mr N and Perth and Kinross Council
    The Council informed Mr N that the information he sought about a school fund was accessible from the school, and therefore exempt under section 25 of the FOI Act. Following investigation, we agreed that the information was otherwise accessible to Mr N.

  • Decision 005/2013 - Mr G and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS)
    The SPS informed Mr G, an inmate, that a manual he sought was otherwise accessible from the prison library through either a visit or a loan. However, Mr G's time in the library was limited, and only a single overnight loan of the item was offered. As a result, our investigation concluded that the manual sought was not reasonably obtainable to Mr G. A full copy of the manual was provided to Mr G during the investigation.

  • Decision 006/2013 - Mr Sergio Sabato and Highland Health Board
    This technical decision addresses five applications from Mr Sabato, and requires the Health Board to respond to his information requests.

  • Decision 007/2013 - Mr H and the Scottish Ministers
    The requester sought information relating to offender programmes. Ministers failed to respond to Mr H's original request and, on review, sought clarification in relation to some information, while informing him that they did not hold other information he had requested. We agreed with Ministers regarding the information that was not held, but required that a response to Mr H's request for review be provided in relation to the remainder of the information.

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