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Case1 A person emails the Chief Executive of a local authority clearly stating he would like to see all minutes and agendas of the Council's management team for the past 3 years?
–This is a valid FOI request as it is in a 'recorded' format. Even if the person does not state their address, an email address is a valid address. –This information is not routinely made available and it is not in the publication scheme so the 20 working days would apply
Issues –Who would you contact for this information, do we keep them for 3 years, is there anything that could possibly be exempt? Would we have to redact any information? –Are there a lot of requests for this information- consider putting a class in the publication scheme which would cover it.
Case 2 A person telephones the Head Of Environmental Services requesting information on decisions taken to increase the levels of recycling in Fife throughout the last year including information held on any meetings to do with this subject.
This counts as an environmental information request and therefore does not count as an FOI request. Verbal requests do count under the access to environmental information regulations.
Issues FOISA requests must be in writing; environmental information regulations requests can be oral. FOISA response time is 20 working days; environmental information regulations response time is 2 months. Different charging regimes Different exemptions
Case 3 A request is received on audiotape from an elderly lady. She clearly states name and address and requests information that will require collation across a number of Services in the Council. She makes a request for the information to be provided on audiotape.
–Yes, this is a valid request because the audiotape is in a 'recorded' format and can be referenced. –The lady could be visually impaired so under the DDA the cost of providing the information in the right format should be met by the Council.
Issues General Equality: do not question reasons for requests; provide as much information as possible in every case; take time to identify what the applicant is requesting. Disabled applicants may need extra support
Case 4 A homeless person asks staff at Glenrothes local office for any information relating to council housing developments in the Glenrothes area. He states he cannot read or write.
–Verbal face to face requests are not valid FOI requests but under the duty to advise and assist and given the person's circumstance, the local office staff should help the person frame the request and write it down for him/her.
Issues how will you ensure applicant receives information requested? consider providing information electronically or making it available at offices. Applicants with reduced literary abilities: –consider taking verbal requests and recording them on tape; –discuss details of request in full to ensure it is accurate; –provide information in a non-literary format where possible.
Case 5 A parent is concerned about recent incidents of bullying and writes in to request the current bullying policy.
–This is a request, which is covered by the publication scheme. –It is therefore 'information otherwise accessible' and exempt as a specific FOI request. –Under the duty to advise and assist the information should just be given out under our customer contact standards.
Case 6 A specialist section of the NHS Scotland has become part of a consortium to carry out a specific piece of medical research. The aim of the research is to develop software, which helps in assessing the likely success of different types of cancer treatment for patients with a different previous history.
Relevant exemptions delegates should consider are: Section 27 - information is intended for future publication Section 33 - disclosure would prejudice commercial interests of private companies, research charities and academic institutions involved in developing and testing the software.
Issues would disclosure prejudice substantially development of product or exercise of functions? does authority own the software? has authority agreed to treat software or other trade secrets as confidential information? would disclosure of software aid development of product to assess types of cancer? the development has been funded by public money and its exploitation would be in the public interest; is it in public interest to disclose
Case 7 Researchers for a TV station are working on a programme about a local University. They want information about –Royal connections past and present –Endowment sources and where invested –Qualification requirements –Funding from outside Scotland
S 41 - Information relating to communications with the Royal Family or Household (NON-ABSOLUTE EXEMPTION); S 38 - Personal data (ABSOLUTE EXEMPTION); S 36 - Confidential information (ABSOLUTE EXEMPTION); S 25 - Information otherwise available (ABSOLUTE EXEMPTION). S 27 — Information intended for future publication (NON- ABSOLUTE EXEMPTION)
Case 8 Bloggs Limited is the losing bidder for a local authority ground maintenance contract. It feels it has been unfairly treated and is considering legal action against the council. The company has now made an FOI request for full details of the tender process including full disclosure of the other bids and details of prices, timescales and performance standards.
Cost could be an issue with this request as well as a Section 33 exemption… 'would prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person'- a public interest test would have to be applied however. Yes the successful company would have to be consulted The maximum would be £50 plus costs for any photocopying or we don’t have to provide it.
Case 9 Joe Bloggs is interviewed for but doesn’t get new job in the Council. –He wants to see his records –What’s the impact of FoI? –Joe’s file contains wrong information.
1. A subject access request under the Data Protection Act. 2. Requests by data subjects for their personal data, even if made under FOISA are exempt from the FOISA. 3. Under the DPA an individual can request that a body holding inaccurate personal data relating to him must rectify the data.
Case 10 When Joe Blogg' s wife, Josephine, was in hospital she underwent surgery, which involved the use of a new technique. –What sort of request is the researcher making –Should the hospital have contacted Josephine? –Can she object? –Can the hospital provide anonymised data?
The authority requires explicit consent from Josephine or another ground from Schedule 3 of the DPA before it can release her details to any third party, unless she has previously given such consent. Josephine position depends on whether or not the purposes for which her information was being collected were clearly notified to her. Only if the hospital has grounds for processing for the act of anonymising the data, they would not need grounds for processing for disclosure since it is not personal data.
Case11 "[A Scottish tourist agency] has been accused of avoiding promoting deer stalking and shooting because of a culture of political correctness. It is being claimed that the blood sport is not being advertised on [their] website because it is considered to be "elitist." The claim was made by the owner of a 5,000-acre sporting estate who went on to point out that shooting and stalking employs 7,200 full-time workers and is vital to the rural economy. According to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, more than 100,000 visitors come each year to Scotland in pursuit of the sport which can cost up to £500 a day.”
1. Sabine’s request is not repeated, vexatious or multiple. 2. Claire's request is not repeated, vexatious or multiple. 3. SODS's Request is not a repeated, vexatious or multiple request. –It is more general than Sabine's request; –The request is for different information; –It has been made by an organisation not Sabine. 4. The various journalists' requests appear related: –So make the information more readily available? –Would the cost exceed the threshold? –They appear to be from separate magazines.
5. The 50 requests are from separate people: They all request the same information; They are made in a short period of time; They appear to form part of a strategic campaign; 6. The final journalist's request is not vexatious, repeated or multiple: An applicant does not have to give reasons; The information belongs to the public and should be available
Case12 A Scottish Waste Disposal Authority gets a request for information on individual experts and does not provide any. A review is requested. – How should the authority respond? –What might OSIC do about it? –What if the material was destroyed to avoid responding to the request?
Authority should –Confirm it took the decision complained of –Provide a full explanation of the reasons why this information has been deleted from the authority's system –Explain the review of records management was carried out to ensure compliance with the data protection legislation –Explain that even if the authority had the information it may not be able to disclose it to a third party as the data protection legislation may not permit such disclosure without the consent of the individual experts concerned; –Advise the contractor that, if he is unhappy with this response, he is entitled to complain to the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Commissioner's options: If he considers request for review is vexatious, he may decide not to proceed with it; Serve information notice requesting information reasonably required from the authority or contractor to enable Commissioner to consider complaint; Try to arrange a settlement between the authority and contractor; If no settlement is reached, the Commissioner should issue a decision notice stating whether or not the authority should have provided the information requested; Decision notice can require authority to take specific action to remedy failure to provide information requested.
Issues If the authority directed the destruction then it has committed a criminal offence; The authority is also liable for the actions of its employees The individual employee or employees who destroyed the information may be personally liable to prosecution for a criminal offence, Any other person (e.g. a contract cleaner) who destroyed it has committed a criminal offence; The authority should inform the police or procurator fiscal.