November 2006 - the Act is working but has the culture changed?

Fourth survey of public awareness of freedom of information rights

The Scottish Information Commissioner's fourth survey of public awareness published in November 2006 shows that the Scottish public agree that more information is available as a result of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The survey also showed a sharp fall in those who believe that public authorities will find ways around the law. The findings suggest that public awareness of the freedom of information rights remains high (nearly three quarters of all respondents) following significant increases in awareness over the previous two years.

The Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, said:

"The Scottish public recognise that the freedom of information act is a powerful tool, and the indications are that they are seeing the benefits of it. People are confident that more information will come into the public domain as a result and fewer believe authorities can get round the Act. However people still remain to be convinced that Scottish public authorities are changing culture to become more open and accountable."

The survey revealed that members of the public view the law positively.

  • For those who reported having made requests since the law came into force in 2005, 76% had received some or all of the information they had requested.
  • 68% of respondents to the survey agreed that, as a result of FOISA, more public authority information is available now than before.
  • The proportion of respondents who agreed that public authorities would find ways around the law and avoid providing information has decreased since the last survey from 66% to 57%.

However, the research also showed that people are less sure than in previous surveys that public authorities are becoming more open and accountable as a result of the Act. 60% of respondents agreed that they are, compared with 67% in the previous survey.

View the research here:

Freedom of Information (Public Awareness) Fourth Survey Report (PDF - 240 KB)

Tables of Results (PDF - 768 KB)

Tables of Results cross-referenced with awareness of the Act and of the Commissi (PDF - 356 KB)

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