Decisions Round-up 4 to 8 May 2015



We published two decisions between 4 and 8 May - details, links and learning points below.

During April, we also resolved eleven cases informally, settling them, to the satisfaction of the requester and the public authority, without the need for a decision.

Key messages:

  • You are unlikely to get sensitive personal data under FOI
    Not surprisingly, sensitive personal data (such as information about a person's health or their criminal record) are subject to particularly strong protection under the Data Protection Act. This means that it's unlikely that this information will be disclosed under FOI, as was the case in Decison 059/2015.
  • Remember, it's always important to respond to requests on time
    In Decison 059/2015, we find another case where the public authority failed to respond within the statutory 20 days, either initially or when the requester asked for a review.If you're not responding to requests on time, have a look at the Commissioner's Self-assessment Toolkit. Our "Responding on time" module will enable you to assess and improve:
    • your authority's compliance with statutory timescales
    • your authority's compliance with the Section 60 Code of Practice; and
    • the quality of service your authority provides.


Decisions issued:

  • Decision 058/2015 Mark Howarth and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland)
    Mr Howarth asked Police Scotland for a full copy of a Significant Case Review report. Police Scotland directed him to a redacted (blacked-out) version which was already publicly accessible. They refused to provide the redacted information, arguing that disclosure would breach the Data Protection Act's data protection principles. Following a review, Police Scotland stated that the redacted information was sensitive personal data. Our investigation concluded that disclosure of the information would breach data protection rules.
  • Decison 059/2015 Isobel Stadele and East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust (EDLCT)
    Mrs Stadele asked EDLCT for information about staff applying for internal vacancies within East Dunbartonshire Council. We found that EDLCT failed to respond to the request, or Mrs Stadele's request for review, within the 20 working days allowed under the Act.


Cases resolved informally

In some cases, where it is appropriate, we will work to resolve cases without the need for a formal decision. We resolved eleven cases this way in April. Here are the main reasons these cases were resolved:

  • The authority may be correct in saying it would be too costly to provide the information
    A public authority isn't obliged to provide information where the cost of doing so would be more than £600. In one case, we were satisfied that it would cost more than this to provide the information and the requester agreed to withdraw their appeal. You can read more about fees and the cost of compliance here.
  • The information may be more readily obtainable from another authority
    The requester was seeking broadly the same information from two public authorities. In one case, we thought it likely that it would cost more than the £600 cost limit to respond to the request. The requester agreed that it would be more beneficial to pursue the other request.
  • The authority may provide information during the investigation
    In more than one case, the authority decided to provide information during the investigation, sometimes with personal data removed. In each case, the requesters accepted the redactions and withdrew their appeals.
  • The requester is satisfied that there isn't any information
    We can only consider what information an authority actually holds, rather than what it should hold. In one case, we were satisfied the authority didn't hold the information the requester had asked for. The requester accepted the explanation provided by the authority and withdrew their appeal.

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