Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence with BTP merger Joint Programme Board: FOI release

Published: 29 Mar 2018
Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
29 Mar 2018
Correspondence with BTP merger Joint Programme Board: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00568
Date received: 20 February 2018
Date responded: 22 March 2018

Information requested

  • Copies of correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefs or otherwise) between the BTP merger Joint Programme Board (individual members and as a whole) and the Scottish Government, on the topic of further time being required to deliver BTP integration, from 1 January 2018 to date.

  • Copies of internal Scottish Government correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefs or otherwise) on the topic of further time being required to deliver BTP integration, from 1 January 2018 to date. This should include ministers, officials and special advisers.

  • Copies of internal Scottish Government correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefs or otherwise) on the topic of the Scottish Parliament Railway Policing debate on 24 January 2018. This should include ministers, officials and special advisers.

  • Copies of any briefings or speaking notes prepared for Michael Matheson and/or Humza Yousaf for the Scottish Parliament Railway Policing debate on 24 January 2018.

  • Copies of any internal Scottish Government correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefs or otherwise) on the subject of the 20 February press release entitled 'Railway Policing Integration' (accessible: https://news.gov.scot/news/railway-policing-integration). This should include ministers, officials and special advisers.

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government is not able to provide some of the information you have requested.

We are unable to provide some of the information because exemptions under sections 27(1)(a) (information intended for future publication), 29(1)(b) (ministerial communications), 38(1)(b) (personal information), 30(b)(i)( (free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii)(free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to such information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

Minutes of the meetings held up to the one on 20 February can be found at

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/police-fire-rescue/police-scotland/BTP/jpbprogramme/proactiverelease

and

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/police-fire-rescue/police-scotland/BTP/jpbprogramme

The minutes of the most recent meeting held on 6 March will be published on the Scottish Government website within 12 weeks as required by the Act.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

As requested, please find enclosed a copy of some of the information you requested in PDF format. Please note that there was an admin error which we found in some of the information we are providing which meant an incorrect date was written. The correct date within page 10 of the Annex, email on 20 February 14:57 is 1 April 2019 not '19 April 2018'.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information you have requested. This is to redact personal email addresses and names of individual staff who have been involved in the correspondence.

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.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 27(1)(a) 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 as required by the Act. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this routinely published 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. 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.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 29(1)(b) of FOISA (Ministerial communications) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to communications between Scottish Ministers.

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 a private space within which issues can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on British Transport Police integration will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing and decisions 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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on British Transport Police integration, 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, based on the best available advice, 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.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions with Joint Programme Board on British Transport Police merger will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions 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 communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on the British Transport Police integration, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by Joint Programme Board.

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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