- 14 Nov 2019
Date received: 13 Oct 2019
Date responded: 11 Nov 2019
All correspondence with the Scottish Police Federation since June 1, 2019
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.
Exemptions have been applied to some of the information you have requested, and these are set out in Annex A.
Exemptions under section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) apply to some of the information you requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice, the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation or free and frank discussions between the Scottish Government and its external stakeholders. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and to have free and frank discussions with each other and with stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.
Specifically, this applies to an initial response from the Scottish Police Federation regarding the preliminary report of Dame Elish Angiolini. It also applies to notes of meetings relating to pyrotechnics and restitution orders. All of these are instances where Scottish Government officials and external stakeholders are discussing policy developments. In addition, the same exemption applies to the draft pay and conditions determinations, which are due to be consulted on.
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.
On balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 and in which full and frank discussion of issues can take place, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position. This is essential to enable all options to be properly considered and based on the best available advice, which enables good decisions to be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, officials and stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process. This would not be in the public interest.
I have also applied an exemption under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) to some of the information requested as it is personal data of a third party. For example, email addresses and contact details of individuals. Disclosing such data would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the public interest test.
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