Decisions Round-up: 28 May to 1 June 2018

It's all about the searches this week, the quality and the timing. Key steps for a public authority are to establish the scope of the request and to carry out timely and adequate searches.

Learning points:

Full searches should be done when a request is received, not several months later…

Once the scope of a request is established, the next step is to determine what information is actually held. It's important that public authorities carry out adequate searches to find the information - and if this hasn't been done initially, it should certainly be done during a review. In Decision 069//2018, searches were still ongoing during our investigation.

Our self-assessment toolkit on searching for information can support any public body experiencing difficulty in this area.

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 68/2018 Gordon Blackstock and Scottish Police Authority (SPA)
    Mr Blackstock asked the SPA for information relating to Senior Police Officer relocation packages. We found that the SPA failed to respond to the request and request for review within the FOI timescales.
  • Decision 69/2018 Ms A and West Dunbartonshire Council
    The Council was asked for details of the Knowle Burn Flood Prevention Scheme, including scouring issues. The Council stated there were no scouring issues and responded that the information was not held. The Commissioner wasn't satisfied that the Council had undertaken proper searches before reaching this conclusion. He ordered the Council to carry out full searches and respond again.
  • Decision 70/2018 Guy Kerry and Highland Council
    The Council was asked for information confirming its position with regard to "privacy" under access legislation over land termed as "excluded". The Council responded by referring to an earlier communication which - in its view - set out its position. The Council explained its position more fully on review. After an investigation, we were satisfied that the Council had responded appropriately.

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