Publication - FOI/EIR release

Information related to miscarriage of justice compensation: FOI release

Published: 29 Sep 2021

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

Published:
29 Sep 2021
Information related to miscarriage of justice compensation: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100230964
Date received: 11 Aug 2021
Date responded: 7 Sep 2021
Information requested

1. Since January 1st 2016 to December 31st 2020 how many individuals applied to receive compensation after being wrongly convicted in Scotland?

2. Since January 1st 2016 to December 31st 2020 what was the total length of time individuals who were wrongly convicted in Scotland spent in prison?

3. Since January 1st 2016 to December 31st 2020 what was the total length of time that all individuals who successfully received compensation after being wrongly convicted in Scotland spent in prison?

Response

Question 1 - 10 applicants submitted an application for compensation as a result of a miscarriage of justice following wrongful conviction. For background information, it may be helpful if I explain that the ex gratia scheme for compensation extends to those who have spent a period of time in custody following wrongful conviction or charge. This total therefore does not include those individuals who applied for compensation under the ex gratia scheme who were not convicted of an offence.

Question 2 - The Scottish Government does not hold information about the total length of time individuals who were wrongly convicted in Scotland spent in prison. However, we do hold information about the length of time which applicants for compensation spent in prison during that time. Of the 10 applicants, 7 spent a period of time in prison and the average length of time these applicants spent in prison was 286 days. I have provided information about the average length of time spent in custody because providing information about individual sentences served by applicants may lead to identifying an individual. As such, an exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. information about the length of time served in prison by people who applied for compensation as a result of a miscarriage of justice and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

While you have not requested information about the names of the individuals, it is considered that there is a real risk that individuals could be identified from information about the length of time they spent in prison in conjunction with the fact that they applied for compensation following a miscarriage of justice in the time period you have specified. 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.

Question 3 - This information has been withheld. This information cannot be released as it may lead to identifying an individual. Therefore an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 applies.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. information about the length of time served in prison by people found eligible for compensation for a miscarriage of justice; and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. While you have not requested information about the names of the individuals, it is considered that there is a real risk that individuals could be identified from information about the length of time they spent in prison in conjunction with the number of individuals who have received compensation after being wrongly convicted in the time period you have specified. 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.

About FOI

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.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG