Publication - FOI/EIR release

Ban on use of electric shock dog collars: EIR release

Published: 7 Feb 2018
Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
Published:
7 Feb 2018
Ban on use of electric shock dog collars: EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00060
Date received: 10 January 2018
Date responded: 2 February 2018

Information requested

Agendas, minutes, notes, correspondence relating to, and associated papers of meetings held by the Scottish Government where the meeting related to the sale, regulation or possibility of a ban on the use of electric collars (sometimes known as 'e-collars' or 'shock collars') dated between 1 January 2016 and 10 January 2018.

Response

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

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, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I enclose a copy of most 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 because exemptions under sections 11(2) "personal data relating to third party", 10(4)(d) "material in course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data", 10(4)(e) "internal communications", and 10(5)(f) "substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information". The reasons why those exceptions apply are explained below.

In addition, a number of redactions of materials outwith scope of your request have been carried out.

Reasons for not providing information

An exception applies.

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal data) applies to information that has been redacted from the documents which are being released to you. This exception applies because the information is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion. This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still being worked on or is under active consideration is not disclosed when it might misinform the public or give a misleading impression of the Government's view or position on the matter to which the information relates.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to information that has been redacted from the documents which are being released to you.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in disclosing the information as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which policy positions on a matter of such vital important to animal welfare can be explored and refined, until the Scottish Government can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on the best advice available.

An exception under regulation 10(5)(f) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information) applies to information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information WOUld,or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of the provider.They:

  • were not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
  • did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made available; and
  • have not consented to disclosure.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of individuals or organisations who provide the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis. Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the wishes of the stakeholders is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on animal welfare issues. This would significantly impaire the Scottish Government's ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This would not be in the public interest.

An exception under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs (information publicly available) also applies to information that has been redacted from the documents which are being released to you.

Under regulation 6(1)(b) we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another format. This information can be found at the following URLs:

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG