Publication - FOI/EIR release

Victim Notification Scheme Review: FOI release

Published: 15 Dec 2021

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

Published:
15 Dec 2021
Victim Notification Scheme Review: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100249299
Date received: 20 Oct 2021
Date responded: 15 Nov 2021
Information requested

(1) Details of the proposed Victim Notification Scheme review by the Scottish Government. This information should include when the review is anticipated to start and conclude, which policy proposals are explicitly mentioned as part of the review and the organisations that are being consulted with as part of the review.

(2) Additionally, please provide any documentation (not related to the Victims Taskforce papers) that sets out the details of the proposed review. Please provide documentation that is dated from after 20 May 2021 to the present date.

Response

Information in the public domain
Some of the information in relation to part (1) of your request is available from Victims Taskforce papers: March 2021 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

Proposals for the review and organisations which are involved in the operation of the scheme and therefore to be consulted as part of the review can be found in the note of the Victims Taskforce meeting and in Paper 5 – Review of the Victim Notification Scheme.

Information in documentation not in the public domain

Some of the information you have requested is contained in the following documentation which is not in the public domain:

Extract from the quarterly meeting between Scottish Government and criminal justice agencies to discuss victims issues on 7 September 2021.

Attendees – representatives from: Scottish Government; Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service; Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service; Parole Board for Scotland; British Transport Police; Police Scotland.

Item 4(e) – Update from Scottish Government on victims issues: Victim Notification Scheme Review SG updated that preparatory work was underway for the review of the VNS. Members have already been asked by SG to contribute to an exercise on the operation of the Scheme and the information currently shared between organisations at each stage. Members were also asked again to suggest to SG any individuals who could be considered to chair the review.

Information where exemptions apply
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 section 29(1)(a)land 30(b)(i) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons for these exemptions are set below:

Exemption applied under section 29(1)(a) – Formulation of development of government policy

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA applies to some the information you have requested. You have requested information relating to the development of government policy. 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 some public interest in disclosing the requested information as part of open, transparent and accountable government. There is a greater public interest, however, in high quality policy and decision-making, as well as in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. A public announcement setting out details of the Victim Notification Scheme review will be made in the near future, after Ministers and officials have fully considered all available
options. It may undermine or constrain the review if the requested information is released while this matter is still under discussion and development.

Exemption applied under section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice)

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA applies to some the information you have requested.
This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

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 there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government. There is, however, greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process
of exploring and refining the government’s policy position. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of
issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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