Information request handling: annual report 2018

2018 annual report on the handling of information requests made to the Scottish Government under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

This document is part of a collection

Requests for information


The Scottish Government is committed to Freedom of Information as an essential part of open, democratic government and responsive public services. Furthermore, we proactively publish as much information as possible via our website without it having to be requested.

You can find out more about the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, including how to request information from the Scottish Government, from the FOI section of our website.

In addition to the summary below, you can find out more about our performance and response times for handling Freedom of Information requests in the FOI Reporting section of our website.

We continued to publish all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses in the Publications section of our website.

Number of requests received

In total, 3,797 requests for information were received in 2018. 3,148 requests were handled under FOISA, 649 were handled under the EIRs.. 

Requests are answered by the business area responsible for the subject matter of the request. Details about the functions of the Scottish Government are available on the About the Scottish Government section of our website.

Requests total
Director-General Constitution and External Affairs 488
Director-General Economy 1413
Director-General Education, Communities and Justice 933
Director-General Health & Social Care 180
Director-General Organisational Development and Operations 458
Director-General Scottish Exchequer 62
Ministerial Private Offices 263
total 3797

The number of requests received averaged 315 per month with actual figures ranging from 222 requests in December to 463 requests in October.

Composition of applicants

44% of all requests received in 2018 were from members of the public.

Pie Chart: Composition of applicants


The majority (91%) of requests for information received by us were processed on time in 2018, i.e. within 20 working days of receipt of the request. Of the 3,797 requests received in 2018, 3,290 were answered on time, 339 were late, 164 were withdrawn and 4 were not proceeded with after clarification was requested.

Requests No Requests No Requests On Time No Requests Late On time*
Director-General Constitution and External Affairs 488 445 13 97%
Director-General Economy 1413 1173 170 87%
Director-General Education, Communities and Justice 933 822 83 91%
Director-General Health & Social Care 180 149 24 86%
Director-General Organisational Development and Operations 458 396 36 92%
Director-General Scottish Exchequer 62 59 1 98%
Ministerial Private Offices 263 246 12 95%
total 3797 3290 339 91%

*Withdrawn cases and cases not proceeded with are omitted from the performance calculation. 

Outcome of requests

During 2018 the Scottish Government released information in full or in part in response to 83% of requests where information was held. 

It is not always appropriate for us to release information. Information can be withheld from an applicant on the basis of one or more of the exemptions or exceptions laid down in FOISA or the EIRs. In such cases, we will fully explain to an applicant why we are unable to provide the information, for example, for reasons of confidentiality or because it is personal data. 

In the majority of cases where we were unable to provide some or all information in response to a request received in 2018, this was because:

  • We did not have the requested information (800 requests), or
  • The information was personal data of a third party (421 requests)



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