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Guide to Information published by the Scottish Government

This guide to information sets out how the Scottish Government makes information available through the Model Publication Scheme. It provides you with details of the publication scheme, how you can access this information, our policies on charging, copyright and records management, and how to request information not covered by the scheme.

The Guide is split into the following sections:

  1. Introduction to the Publication Scheme
  2. Availability and formats
  3. Information that we may withhold
  4. Our charging policy
  5. Our copyright policy
  6. Our records management and disposal policy
  7. How to access information which we do not publish
  8. Charges for information available only through request
  9. Contact us

If you prefer you can download the Guide to Information from here, or contact us to ask for a hard copy to be posted to you.

Introduction to the Publication Scheme

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) provides individuals with a right to request any recorded information held by Scotland’s public authorities. Anyone can use this right, and information can only be withheld where FOISA expressly permits it.

Section 23 of FOISA also requires that all Scottish public authorities maintain a publication scheme. A publication scheme sets out the types of information that a public authority routinely makes available.

The Scottish Government has adopted the Model Publication Scheme developed and approved by the Scottish Information Commissioner. The Commissioner is responsible for enforcing FOISA. The model scheme can be viewed online at the Commissioner's website (link) or by contacting us at the address below.

The Commissioner’s Model Publication Scheme is designed to ensure that authorities meet their obligation to take account of the public interest in providing access to the information that they hold which relates to:

  • the services they provide;
  • the costs of those services;
  • the standard of those services;
  • the facts that inform the important decisions they take; and
  • the reasoning that informs their decisions.

The Scottish Government has adopted the Model Publication Scheme without amendment. We have therefore made a commitment to publish all information which we hold which falls within the classes of information in the scheme.  The information we publish through the model scheme is, wherever possible, available on our website via the A-Z.

In deciding which information to publish we have also given effect to the Government’s own “6 principles of FOI”, which generally speaking, underpin our approach to FOI matters. These principles, in particular, make clear the Scottish Government’s commitment to open government and publishing information proactively whenever possible.  You can see the principles at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/FOI/6principles. We have also considered the types of information which are requested from us routinely and whether they could be published by us more proactively.

If you would like to access information not published under the scheme, you can still request it from us under FOISA or, in the case of environmental information, the EIRs.  For further information on accessing information we do not publish, see How to access information which we do not publish.


Availability and formats

The information we publish through the model scheme is, wherever possible, available on our website via the A-Z. We offer alternative arrangements for people who do not want to, or cannot, access the information online or by inspection at our premises. For example, we can usually arrange to send information to you in paper copy (although there may be a charge for this).


Information listed in our A-Z is available to download from our website.  Alternatively, you can use our website’s “Search” facility.   If you are still having trouble finding any information set out in this guide, then please call the general enquiry line on 0300 244 4000, run by the Scottish Government’s Central Enquiry Unit, for further assistance. You can also email them at: ceu@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

By email:

If the information you seek is listed in our A-Z but you are unable to download it, we can usually send it to you by email.  When requesting information from us, please provide a telephone number so that we can telephone you to clarify details, if necessary.

Please send your request for information to: ceu@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

By phone:

Information can also be requested from us over the telephone.  Please contact our Centrail Enquiry Unit on 0300 244 4000 to request information.

By post:

Information listed in our A-Z is also available in paper copy form, although there may be a charge for it.  Please address your request to:

St. Andrew's House
Regent Road

When writing to us to request information, please include:

  • your name and address
  • full details of the information or documents you would like to receive
  • any payment (if you know the applicable fee)
  • a telephone number so we can telephone you to clarify any details, if necessary.


Information that we may withhold

All information published in this guide can be accessed either through our website, or by asking us for it.

Our aim in maintaining this publication scheme is to be as open as possible.  You should note, however, that there may be limited circumstances where information will be withheld from publication.  Information will only be withheld, however, where FOISA (or, in the case of environmental information, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004) expressly permits it. Information may be withheld, for example, where its disclosure would breach the law of confidentiality, harm an organisation’s commercial interests, or endanger the protection of the environment.  Information may also be withheld if it is another person’s personal information, and its release would breach the data protection legislation.

Where we withhold information we will remove it or redact it before publication and explain why. Even where information is withheld it may, in many cases, be possible to provide copies with the withheld information edited out.

If you wish to complain about any information which has been withheld from you, please contact us.


Our charging policy

Unless otherwise stated below under charges for information available only through request, all information contained within our scheme is available from us free of charge where it can be downloaded from our website or where it can be sent to you electronically by email.

We reserve the right to impose charges for providing information in paper copy or on computer disc. Charges will reflect the actual costs of reproduction and postage to Scottish Government, as set out below.

In the event that a charge is to be levied, you will be advised of the charge and how it has been calculated. Information will not be provided to you until payment has been received.

Reproduction costs

Where charges are applied, photocopied information will be charged at a standard rate of 10p per A4 side of paper (black and white copy) and 30p per A4 side of paper (colour copy).

Postage costs

We will pass on postage charges to the requester at the cost to the Scottish Government of sending the information by first class post.

We are required by the Equality Act 2010 to make take steps to meet the needs of people who share a relevant protected characteristic. In terms of access to information, this means making reasonable adjustments to our practices to ensure that information is physically accessible. This may, for example, involve producing information in a larger script or different format where it is practicable to do so. The costs of this will be met by the Scottish Government.


Our copyright policy

The Scottish Government is a Crown body and the information we produce is subject to Crown copyright, which is administered by the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.  The material listed in this publication scheme is Crown copyright unless stated otherwise.

You may use and re-use Crown copyright information published through this guide free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms and conditions of the Open Government Licence, provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context.  Where any of the Crown copyright items published through this guide are being republished or copied to others, the source of the material must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged.

Further information on our copyright policy is available here.


Our records management and disposal policy

The Scottish Government has in place Record Retention and Disposition Schedules in respect of all documents that it creates and holds.  These Schedules set out the lengths of time for which all types of records must be held.  This means that whilst FOISA is retrospective, it is only possible to provide copies of records that are still in existence.  The current Scottish Government policy and procedures in relation to records management are set out in the Scottish Government’s Record Management Manual is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/08/15152416/24168

Some Scottish Government records are selected to be permanently preserved at the National Records of Scotland.  The Schedules referred to above set out what types of records will normally be preserved.  Once transferred to the National Records of Scotland, these records are made publicly available and are listed on their on-line catalogue at http://www.nas.gov.uk/onlineCatalogue/


How to access information which we do not publish

If the information you are seeking is not available through this website, then you may wish to request it from us.

For details on how to request information held by the Scottish Government, see How to access information.

To make a request for personal data held by the Scottish Government, see How to request personal data.


Charges for information available only through request

Non-environmental information

The Scottish Government does not charge anyone for making requests for, nor for providing, information under FOISA, but we will refuse to deal with a request where we estimate that it will cost more than £600 to locate, retrieve and provide the information.

Environmental information

The Scottish Government does not charge anyone for making requests for, nor for providing, environmental information under the EIRs, up to a limit of £600.  Thereafter we may charge the full cost of providing the information.

In the event that we decide to charge for the full cost of a request under the EIRs costing over £600, we will issue you with notification of the charge and how it has been calculated. If you decide not to proceed with the request there will be no charge to you.

Charges are calculated on the basis of the actual cost to the authority of locating, retrieving and providing the environmental information.

  • Photocopying is charged at 10p per A4 sheet for black and white copying, 30p per A4 sheet for colour copying.
  • Postage is charged at actual rate for first class mail.
  • Staff time is calculated at actual cost per staff member hourly salary rate to a maximum of £15 per person per hour.


Contact us

Our aim is to make our guide to information as user-friendly as possible, and we hope that you can access all the information we publish with ease. We are obliged to review our guide to information from time to time.  As a result, we welcome feedback on how we can develop it further.  If you would like to comment on any aspect of this guide to information, then please contact us.  You may, for example wish to tell us about:

  • other information that you would like to see included;
  • whether you found it easy to use;
  • whether you found the guide useful;
  • whether our staff were helpful;
  • other ways in which our guide can be improved.

Please send any comments, suggestions or complaints to:

Freedom of Information Unit
Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Email: foi@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Any complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the Scottish Government Complaints Procedure which is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Contacts/Have-Your-Say/Making-Complaints.

You have legal rights to access information under this scheme and a right of appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner if you are dissatisfied with our response.  These rights apply only to information requests made in writing* or another recordable format.  If you are unhappy with our responses to your request you can ask us to review it and if you are still unhappy, you can make an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s website has a guide to this three step process, and she operates an enquiry service on Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Her office can be contacted as follows:

Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle
Doubledykes Road
St Andrews
KY16 9DS

Tel: 01334 464610
Email: enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info
Website: www.itspublicknowledge.info

*verbal requests for environmental information carry similar rights.


Guide to Information PDF

Downloadable document:

Title:Scottish Government Guide to Information
Description:The Scottish Government's guide to information, based on the Scottish Information Commissioner's model publication scheme
File:Guide to Information PDF [PDF, 55.1 kb: 25 May 2012]
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