- 14 Dec 2017
FOI reference: FOI/17/02471
Date received: 9 November 2017
Date responded: 8 December 2017
[BTP-British Transport Police]
You asked for:
Any internal briefing prepared for Government ministers on officer training related to the merger of the BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. Officer training is an operational matter for Police Scotland and the Scottish Parliament took evidence directly from Police Scotland during the passage of the Railway Policing (Scotland) Act. The evidence that ACC Higgins gave to the Justice Committee on 7 March 2017 may be of interest to you as he discusses officer training at some length. The Justice Committee evidence session of 7 March 2017 can be found at: Justice Committee 7 March 2017
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 an exemption(s) under section(s) 29 (1)(a) – formation or development of Scottish Government Policy, 30(b)(i) – free and frank provision of advice and 38(1)(b) – personal data relating to a third party of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies:
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information of a third party) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.
Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test:
Exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of Scottish Government policy) and 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested.
Exemption 29(1)(a) relates to information regarding the formation and development of Scottish Government policy.
Exemption 30(b)(i) recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to receive advice and explore options internally and with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank provision of advice on the integration of the British Transport Police, Police Scotland and the British Transport Police Authority will substantially inhibit the ability to give this advice in the future, particularly because work on the integration of the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland is still on-going and forms part of a continuing programme of work.
Both of these exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government's policy on the integration of the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective.
This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, officials and stakeholders which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House