- 31 Mar 2021
Date received: 23 Nov 2020
Date responded: 15 Jan 2021
1. At Scottish Government Cabinet, the number of times the Recorded Crime in Scotland statistics have been on the agenda for discussion. Please limit the time period to 1 August 2018 to the present date.
2. Records of any discussions, correspondence or policy ideas from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice aimed at tackling the rise in violent crime documented in the Recorded Crime in Scotland statistics. Please limit the time period to 1 August 2018 to the present date.
3. Any Scottish Government correspondence regarding the Recorded Crime in Scotland statistics 2019-20. Please limit the time period to 1 September 2020 to 30 September 2020.
I attach a copy of some of the information you requested.
The response to Question 1 is as follows:
During the period requested , the Recorded Crime in Scotland statistics have been discussed at Cabinet on three occasions during meetings held on the 25 September 2018, 24 September 2019, and 29 September 2020.
Responses to Questions 2 and 3 are provided in the attached documents.
It should be noted that in terms of Question 2, the latest Recorded Crime in Scotland statistics highlighted that the increase in non-sexual crimes of violence was entirely due to 1,681 new crimes being recorded under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, following its enactment on 1 April 2019. All other non-sexual crimes of violence collectively decreased by 5%. As such, these statistics did not document a like-for-like increase in non-sexual crimes of violence in 2019-20.
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 government policy), 30(b) (i) and (ii) (free and frank exchange of views) and S38(1) (b) (personal data relating to a third party) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
Some of the information you have requested is already available from the Scottish Government’s webpages. Correspondence during the requested period included copies of the Recorded Crime 2019-20 National Statistics and associated news releases. Both of these documents were published on the 29th of September and are available at the links below. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.
Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2019-2020 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) (publication)
Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2019-20 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) (news release 1)
Recorded Crime down 24% over the decade - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) (news release 2)
For Question 2, we have not included copies of some correspondence as we have applied exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy) and 30(b) (i) and (ii) (free and frank exchange of views).
For Question 3, we have not excluded copies of any correspondence, though have applied redactions to parts of it using the exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy) and 30(b) (i) and (ii) (free and frank exchange of views).
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) (Personal Data Relating to a Third Party) of FOISA also 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.
Exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy), and 30(b) (i) and (ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to give and seek advice and views before reaching a settled public position - which will be given in whatever final press and other public lines are used. Disclosing the content of free and frank briefing material on the publication of these statistics will substantially inhibit such briefing in the future.
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 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 official can express free and frank advice to each other, and to Ministers. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers and officials can properly interpret and respond to queries about these statistics and how this evidence informs the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, 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 Andrews House