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Round-up iconDecisions Round-up: 16 to 20 July 2018

A whopping two thirds of all decisions issued this week involved a failure to meet FOI timescales. That means not only were the requesters let down by failures to meet their rights, the authorities had to engage with our investigations and received a public formal notice that they had breached a statutory duty. All of that could have been avoided if the authorities had responded on time. Searching for information also caused problems in some of the decisions this week. Authorities which are regularly failing to comply with timescales, or are not getting searches right at the outset, should consider investing a little time to complete our self-assessment modules to get things back on track.

Learning points:

 

  • Respond in time to avoid appeals and possible intervention by the Commissioner
    Six of the decisions below - two thirds of all decisions issued this week - involve a failure to comply with timescales when responding to a request or request for review. All of these cases meant additional time was spent dealing with an appeal (and, of course, delay in meeting the requester's rights). We're seeing a rise in the number of such cases. Where we see recurrent failures to meet timescales, we may intervene under our Intervention Procedures. Our self-assessment module on responding on time is free to use and helps authorities resolve issues.

 

  • Searching - cover all bases
    Authorities should, at the outset of their request handling, identify all information covered by the request. In Decision 104/2018, we required the authority to check raw data which it held but hadn't considered when carrying out its searches. In Decision 105/2018, the authority identified additional information after further enquiries and searches. We also publish a self-assessment module on searching for information.

 

Decisions issued:

 

  • Decision 101/2018 Sergio Sabato and Highland Council (the Council)
    The Council was asked for information about a number of issues, including its recruitment process (in relation to conflicts of interest) and new licence conditions for Houses in Multiple Occupation. We found that the Council failed to respond to the request within the required timescale, and failed to provide Mr Sabato with appropriate information about his rights of appeal. As the Council has issued a review response, no action was required.

 

  • Decision 102/2018 Carolyn Neilson and West Dunbartonshire Integration Joint Board (the IJB)
    Mrs Neilson asked for a report submitted to a meeting of the West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership Board, and associated information. We found that the IJB failed to respond to her request for review within the required timescales, and required it to provide a response.

 

  • Decision 103/2018 Mr L and Highland Council (the Council)
    Mr L asked for information relating to a specific road. We found that the Council failed to respond to his request and request for review within the required timescales. We required the Council to respond to Mr L's review request.

 

  • Decision 104/2018 Margaret Archibald and the Chief Constable of the Police Force of Scotland (Police Scotland)Mrs Archibald asked about speed monitoring and incidents on the B977. Police Scotland disclosed some information and said they did not hold any other relevant information.

    We asked the authority to check raw data which it held but hadn't considered, before accepting that it didn't hold any relevant information.

  • Decision 105/2018 Ross Greer MSP and the Scottish Ministers (the Ministers)
    The Ministers were asked about state support for companies in the defence sector, including names of companies and how much support they had received. The Ministers initially said they held no information.

    During our investigation, the Ministers identified and disclosed some information. We accepted that they did not hold any other information.

 

  • Decision 106/2018 Mr C and the Chief Constable of the Police Force of Scotland (Police Scotland)
    Police Scotland was asked for information regarding a person's detention (which had been reported in the press). After investigation, we agreed that Police Scotland were entitled to withhold the information. It was held for the purposes of an investigation into whether a person should be prosecuted for a crime, so an exemption applied.

 

  • Decision 107/2018 Mr H and Highland Council (the Council)
    Mr H asked for a range of information about a planning application. We found that the Council failed to respond to his request and request for review within the required timescales, and ordered it to respond to his review request.

 

  • Decision 108/2018 Mr L and the Scottish Police Authority
    The Scottish Police Authority was asked for information relating to legal fees. We found that it failed to respond to the request and the request for review within the required timescales, and ordered it to respond to the review request.

  • Decision 109/2018 Mrs R and Dumfries and Galloway Council (the Council)
    Mrs R asked for information about drainage on a specified road. The Council did not respond to her request or her request for review. We required it to comply with her request for review.

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