Launch of New FOI Tool

News Release: 21 December 2016

The Scottish Information Commissioner has launched a new online Freedom of Information (FOI) appeal service, accessible at or on our homepage.

Requesters can use it to appeal if their requests are refused or they are unhappy with the way their requests were handled by public authorities. It's available 24/7 and gives users real-time help and advice to make sure we can start investigating their case as quickly as possible.

While the number of appeals to the Commissioner increased by 14% in 2015/16, appeals from the voluntary sector accounted for just 1% of the Commissioner's total appeals, down from 4% last year. Only 3 FOI appeals were received from voluntary organisations in 2015/16, compared to 19 last year and 25 three years ago.

Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew said:

"We've launched a new online appeal service, to make an FOI appeal as straightforward, as accessible and as quick as possible, providing clear advice and guidance to users every step of the way.

"Our new webpage explains FOI rights and how to use them, and we'll be giving FOI training workshops for voluntary sector staff in different parts of the country.

"We want freedom of information to work as well as possible for the voluntary sector, giving access to the information you need to support your work."

The Commissioner's webpage introducing FOI rights and how to make a request is available at For more information or to book a place on one of the Commissioner's FOI training workshops, visit


For further information contact the Commissioner's press team on 01334 464610, out of hours on 01334 464619, or email

Appeal Service imagery

High resolution copies of these photographs can be downloaded from

Notes to Editors

About the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

  • The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 provides individuals with a right to receive the information held by Scottish public authorities.
  • The Act applies to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government, all 32 local authorities, the NHS in Scotland, Police Scotland, colleges and universities, and many other organisations.
  • Under FOI, any written request for information must be responded to within 20 working days.
  • Information can only be withheld where the FOI Act expressly permits it. Information can be withheld, for example, where its release would breach someone's right to privacy under data protection legislation, or where it would harm national security or an organisation's commercial interests. Even where an exemption applies, in most cases the Act also says that information must be released if it is in the public interest to do so.
  • If the requester is unhappy with an FOI response, they can (after first asking the authority to review its handling of the request) appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.
  • On receipt of an appeal, the Commissioner will conduct a full investigation. If she finds that the authority has withheld information incorrectly, she can force the authority to release it. She may also uphold the authority's decision to withhold information.

Appeals by Sector

Data about the volumes of appeals by sector is derived from the Commissioner's annual report. The full data is available at

About the Scottish Information Commissioner

  • The Scottish Information Commissioner is a public official appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament. The current Scottish Information Commissioner is Rosemary Agnew.
  • The Commissioner is responsible for promoting and enforcing Scotland's freedom of information laws.
  • The Commissioner: investigates appeals and issues legally enforceable decisions; promotes good practice amongst public authorities; and provides the public with information about their rights.
  • The Commissioner produces a short Round-up of the decisions she issues on a weekly basis. To find out more, read the past editions of the Decisions Round-up at, or sign up to receive it at


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