Special Reports

Below you will find details of the Special Reports issued by the Scottish Information Commissioner. Follow the title links for more information about each report, or download each report via the PDF links.

Covid-19 FOI UpdateInformation we publish relating to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic can be accessed through our Covid-19 Information Hub.


December 2020: Impact of Covid-19 on FOI in Scotland

Since temporary emergency changes were made to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 in April and May 2020, the Scottish Information Commissioner has monitored their impact closely. In this initial special report on the impact of Covid-19 on freedom of information in Scotland, the Commissioner highlights that:

  • The pandemic has caused delays to some responses to information requests since March 2020, but the impact on FOI in Scotland does not appear to be as significant as some may have feared.
  • Public authorities have generally taken a proactive approach to publication of information about the pandemic and their responses to it. This may, to some extent, have contributed to the reduction in request volumes seen earlier in 2020.
  • Reallocation of FOI resources has been the most common pandemic-related cause of delays to FOI responses, and this underlines the importance of properly resourcing the FOI function.
  • The Commissioner anticipates that the pandemic will continue to have an impact on FOI practice for some time yet. However, any de-prioritising of authorities' internal FOI infrastructure which has taken place must be undone.

Download the 2020 Special Report


April 2017: Proactive Publication: time for a rethink?

In her last official report to Parliament before leaving office at the end of April 2017, Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew called for debate about a radical re-think of freedom of information (FOI). While recognising that it is essential to preserve the enforceable FOI right to ask for and be given information by Scottish public authorities, the Commissioner is calling for a major shift in approach, to one which focuses on transparency through publication: making information accessible and available, in real time, without people having to ask for it.

Download the 2017 Special Report


January 2015: FOI 10 Years On - are the right organisations covered?

In this report, Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew warned the Scottish Parliament that immediate steps must be taken to protect freedom of information (FOI) rights from the damage caused by the outsourcing of important public services. The report explained that the provision to extend FOI to non-public sector organisations delivering public functions had been "woefully underused" in the ten years since FOI law came into effect, with the consequence that some public functions were no longer open to full public scrutiny. The report contains a number of recommendations for action to address her concerns.

Download the 2015 Special Report


August 2014: Failure to Respond to FOI Requests: extent, impact and remedy

This special report highlighted the problem of when authorities fail to respond to FOI requests on time and how they could tackle the issue. Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew said: "People ask for information when they need it. FOI law is designed to get them the information they are entitled to promptly. When authorities don’t respond to requests they are effectively denying an individual’s rights. This is not only stressful for requesters; it damages public confidence in authorities and the FOI regime itself."

Download the 2014 Special Report


January 2012: Kevin Dunion's Special Report to the Scottish Parliament on leaving office

Published six weeks prior to the first Commissioner's departure from office, the purpose of this report was to give an opinion on the current state of freedom of information (FOI) in Scotland, to draw attention to related matters which Parliament may wish to take into account and to make recommendations. The report was particularly timely given the Scottish Government's consultation on a proposed Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, and also as an early contribution to the Government's intended consultation on a Transparency Agenda for Scotland in 2012.

Download the 2012 Special Report


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