Use of private investigators and cost of services: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/19/00035  
Date received: 28 December 2018  
Date responded: 23 January 2019
Information requested

You asked the Scottish Government for:

  1.     How many occasions were private investigators/detectives used?
  2.     The purpose of using private investigators/detectives?
  3.     The cost associated with each use of private investigators/detectives?

The above information for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018




Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) has been asked by the Scottish Government to provide you with information following your request under the Freedom of (Scotland) Act, 2002. This is because the Scottish Government undertook a search of their accounting system and found that the only information held across the whole system that might be relevant to your request related to expenditure by SAAS. Our response is solely in relation to SAAS as an Agency of the Scottish Government.

SAAS have used the services of a tracing agent called Leonard Investigation UK Ltd in the past. Leonards were used to assist with the tracing of confident addresses and employers for debtors. The charge for these services was £32+ VAT and £50+ VAT respectively. 

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested in response to how many occasion private investigators/detectives were used in 2016, 2017 and 2018 would exceed the upper cost limit of £600.  This is because a manual search of all invoices would need to be undertaken to collated the required information as well as a manual search of individual case records. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

In this instance we cannot provide any specific advice on how to reduce the scope of your request so that it can be brought below £600. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at:

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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