In September the Scottish Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, published her annual report for 2013/14. Ms Agnew enforces the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). In her own words, “The report documents our achievements and challenges across the year, while also providing a snapshot of the wider picture of FOI in Scotland.”
Key facts are as follows:
- Appeals to the Commissioner fell slightly during 2013/14, with 578 appeals received compared to 594 in 2012/13. The slight fall appears to be due to a fall in the number of appeals made because an authority had failed to respond within the statutory time limits.
- The Commissioner received the highest number of enquiries to date, at 2,008. This was an 11% rise on last year.
- 62% of appeals were from members of the public.
- In 67% of decisions the Commissioner found wholly or partly in favour of the requester.
- Public awareness of FOISA in Scotland is at 78%.
- Scottish public authorities reported that they received over 60,000 FOISA requests in 2013/14.
- 75% of appeals took less than 4 months to resolve.
- There were no appeals to the Court of Session against decisions issued by the Commissioner in 2013/14.
- The Commissioner launched a new programme of regional “roadshows” , which saw the Commissioner and her staff deliver FOISA training to over 200 participants from a range of backgrounds.
In an excellent example of Open Data, the Commissioner has also published detailed information on the appeals received since 2005, broken down by public authority, region and sector, in Excel spreadsheets on her website.
The Commissioner is currently working on a Special Report on the scope of FOISA and whether all the right organisations are covered. The report will be laid in the Scottish Parliament in early 2015, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Act coming into force.
If you are new to FOI in Scotland or want to boost your career through gaining a qualification, our FOISA Practitioner Certificate is ideal for you. The four day course is endorsed by the Centre for FOI , based at Dundee University.