- 11 Apr 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/00318
Date received: 2 February 2018
Date responded: 14 March 2018
All correspondence, and details of meetings or phone calls between members of the Scottish Police Authority Board, any of:
a) the Cabinet Secretary for Justice
b) the Justice Minister
c) the Law Officers
including minutes of any meetings, since 1 January 2017.
1. I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.
2. 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 exemptions under section 30(b) (free and frank exchange of views) and 38(1) (personal data relating to third party) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
Section 27(1) - information intended for future publication.
An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because we intend to publish that information within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release some of this information before the planned publication date.
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 having access to this information and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.
Section 30(b)(ii} - free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the tree and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settted public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing and declslons have not been taken.
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 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 position. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision 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