Scotland's new Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation

Research released today (22 March 2004) by the Scottish Information Commissioner and TSO (The Stationery Office).

Scottish authorities are on track to open their files

Scottish public authorities are on track to meet their obligations under Scotland's new Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, according to research released today (22 March 2004) by the Scottish Information Commissioner and TSO (The Stationery Office).

The study, which was carried out by Craigforth Consultancy and Research, revealed that 84% of the public bodies surveyed are either "fairly" or "very" confident that they will have the systems and procedures in place to comply with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, when it comes into force on 1st January 2005.

The new legislation gives the public a right of access to information held by Scotland's public authorities. The Act covers over 10,000 public bodies across the country, including the Scottish Parliament, local councils, the NHS and the police.

In general, staff from the authorities surveyed were enthusiastic about the legislation, with 83% of those surveyed agreeing that FOI would have a positive impact on their organisation, and the same percentage agreeing that their authority would be more open and accountable to the people they serve as a result.

Not everyone shared this enthusiasm however, with a minority of respondents (10%) claiming that FOI would have a "somewhat negative" impact on their organisation.

Kevin Dunion, Scottish Information Commissioner, said:

"With less than nine months to go, it is important to gauge whether Scottish public authorities are gearing up sufficiently for the new freedom of information laws. Our research reflects a positive response by Scottish authorities, and confirms other indications that, so far, we are on track to implement the new legislation on the timetable set down. However a significant effort in staff training and records management still has to be made to ensure that from 1 January 2005 all requests for information, whether from the public, media, or business, receive a quick and full response."

Grant Laing, Director, TSO Scotland added, "It is a huge challenge to get the right systems and processes in place by 2005, to be able to give citizens the information they request, in the format they need - be it electronic or print. Public authorities seem to be making good progress, but for long term success, FOI must be viewed as part of an ongoing process of improving access to public information."

View the research here:

Freedom of Information Survey Results (PDF - 644 KB)

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