Publication - FOI/EIR release

Justice Minister communications with Orange Order and Police Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
21 Jul 2020
Justice Minister communications with Orange Order and Police Scotland: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000049857
Date received: 21 Jun 2020
Date responded: 20 Jul 2020
Information requested

In the period between 1 March 2020 and 21 June 2020:
Any minutes or notes kept of meetings or calls between the Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and any representative of the Orange Order and/or Jim McHarg. 
Any written documents, such as a briefing, prepared for the Justice Secretary relating to any meetings/calls he has had with the Orange Order.
Any emails, notes, memos, minutes or other written records kept on meetings between the Justice Secretary or Scottish Government officials and Police Scotland where the protests across Scotland which have taken place in April or June are discussed.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 30 (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs), section 35 (law enforcement) and section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained here.

Section 30 (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs)
An exemption under s. 30(b)(i) - prejudice to the free and frank provision of advice and s. 30(c) - prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs applies to some of the information you have requested.
Section 30(b)(i) applies as disclosure of some of the information requested would have an inhibiting effect on the provision of free and frank advice and on the exchange on views, while section 30(c) applies as disclosure of some of the information could impact upon the effective conduct of public affairs by breaching reasonable expectations from stakeholders that free and frank discussions can take place.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because disclosing information wherever possible as part of open, transparent and accountable government is important and can inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in allowing a protected space for full and frank discussions with officials, Ministers and external stakeholders as part of engagement work. The greater public interest lies in allowing a space to promote respectful and sustainable resolutions to challenging issues.

Section 35(1)(a) (prevention or detection of crime)
An exemption under s. 35(1)(a) (prevention or detection of crime) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.
The disclosure of the detail of operational policing matters and discussions around wider operational strategies for dealing with public order and criminal activity would significantly impact on the operational integrity of Police Scotland.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because disclosing information wherever possible as part of open, transparent and accountable government is important and can inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in Police Scotland being able to effectively carry out their duties to protect the public. The greater public interest lies in allowing discussions involving operational policing matters to take place.

S. 38(1)(b) (personal information)
An exemption under S. 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. Names of individuals have been redacted where appropriate.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG