- 13 Aug 2019
Date received: 15 Jul 2019
Date responded: 13 Aug 2019
You asked for any and all correspondence between the Scottish Government and Scottish Prison Service, over the last 18 months (since January 2018), regarding in-cell phones for inmates.
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 an exemption under section 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of Scottish Government policy) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why this exemption applies are explained below.
Information is exempt under section 29(1)(a) if it relates to the formulation or development of government policy. The "formulation or development of policy" is interpreted to cover the consideration or development of options and priorities for Scottish Ministers. The formulation of government policy suggests the early stages of policy progress where options are identified and considered, risks are identified, consultation takes place and recommendations and submissions are presented to 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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on in-cell phones will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.
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 Andrews House