- 23 Oct 2018
Date received: 30 August 2018
Date responded: 19 October 2018
I enclose a copy of some 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 you have requested because exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (Formulation or Development of Scottish Government Policy), s30(b)(i) (Free and Frank Provision of Advice), s30(b)(ii) (Free and Frank Exchange of Views) and s38(1)(b) (Personal Data Relating to a Third Party).
An exemption applies.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) (Personal Data Relating to a Third Party) of FOISA 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.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
Exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (Formulation or Development of Scottish Government Policy), 30(b)(i) (Free and Frank provision of Advice) and 30(b)(ii) (Free and Frank Exchange of Views) 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.
Exemptions 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) recognise the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options internally before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of on-going plans for the integration of the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still on-going and form part of a continuing programme of work.
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 and officials 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