Publication - FOI/EIR release

Home detention curfews:correspondence with Scottish Prison Service and Police:FOI release

Published: 17 Aug 2018

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
17 Aug 2018
Home detention curfews:correspondence with Scottish Prison Service and Police:FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/01944
Date received: 7 August 2018 
Date responded: 16 August 2018
 
Information requested
 

A copy of all correspondence between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland about the issue of home detention curfews in the period from 1 April 2017 to 17 July 2018.

Response
 

I attach a copy of some of the information you requested.  While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 30(b)(i)(ii)(Free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views), section 30(c)(Otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs), section (29)(1)(d)(Operations of any Ministerial private office) and section 38(1)(b)(Personal data relating to third party) of the FOISA applies to that information.  The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information
 

Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test.

Exemptions under section 30(b)(i)(ii)(Free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views)

An exemption under section 30(b)(i)(ii)(Free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views) of FOISA applied 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 provision of advice and the exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.  This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and to discuss options with external stakeholders to inform the Government’s position.

Disclosing the content of free and frank advice, and communications with Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland on Home Detention Curfews (HDC), will substantially inhibit both the provision of such advice and these discussions in the future.  This is particularly relevant in light of the independent reviews of HDC which are currently being conducted by HM Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) and HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS).  It is critical that these reviews are able to provide recommendations without prejudice so that Scottish Government, Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland can carefully examine their recommendations and make improvements where necessary to provide assurance to Scottish Ministers, Parliament and members of the public.

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 an 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 and other officials and communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of improving and refining the approach to Home Detention Curfew.  This private and independent thinking space and evidence gathering is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that robust policy decisions can be taken.  Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, officials and stakeholders in relation to Home Detention Curfew. This in turn will undermine the development of policy in this area.  This  would not be in the public interest.

Exemptions under section 30(c)(Otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs)

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested.  Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to respond to the findings of the independent reviews of HDC which are currently being conducted by HM Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) and HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS).  It is critical that these reviews are able to provide recommendations without prejudice so that Scottish Government, Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland can carefully examine their recommendations and make improvements where necessary to provide assurance to Scottish Ministers, Parliament and members of the public.

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. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the process of considering and responding to the independent reviews of HDC currently being conducted by HMICS and HMIPS. This will ensure the most robust and evidence based response which will, in turn, support public safety.

Exemptions under section (29)(1)(d)(Operations of any Ministerial private office)

An exemption under section (29)(1)(d)(Operations of any Ministerial private office) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.  This exemption applies because some of the information you have requested  relates to the operation of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice’s private office.

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 public interest in disclosing information as part of an 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 communicate with Ministers and their private offices, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on Home Detention Curfew, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective.  

An exemption applies.

Exemption under section 38(1)(b)(Personal data relating to third party)

An exemption under section 38(1)(b)(Personal data relating to third party) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. personal information about individuals in prison and families of victims, 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.

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FOI-18-01944 - related documents

53 page PDF
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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference 
 
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: [ceu@gov.scot](mailto:ceu@gov.scot) 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 
 
The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 
Edinburgh 
EH1 3DG