Tackling Prostitution: FOI release

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

Information requested

I would like to request some information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Your webpage concerning ‘Progress on tackling prostitution’ (29 November 2021) mentions a reference group who will support the short life working group currently working to design the fundamental principles of a new model to challenge men’s demand for prostitution:

“Recognising the range of interests and experience, the group’s work will also be informed by a reference group, with membership across government, the wider public sector and third sector. The reference group will be kept updated on progress, along with opportunities to input into its work.”

Could you please provide me with the following information?
1) The membership of the reference group.
2) The number of times the reference group have been asked for input into the work of the short life working group to date


The Reference Group membership contains individuals from the following groups/ organisations:

  • A Model for Scotland
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Third sector academia
  • NHS
  • Cross-Party Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation
  • Scottish Government officials representing policy interests relevant to the work of the SLWG.

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 s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to part of this information. Please see the Annex for further explanation. The reference group has been kept updated on the short life working group’s progress, and have been contacted on four occasions - three of which input was sought.

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because exemptions apply.

Exemption under Section 38 (personal information) of FOISA  contains four exemptions, all relating to personal information. Information is exempt from disclosure if it is: 

  • the personal data of the person requesting the information (section 38(1)(a));
  • the personal data of a third party – but only if other conditions apply (section 38(1)(b));
  • personal census information (section 38(1)(c)); or
  • a deceased person's health record (section 38(1)(d)).

The exemptions in sections 38(1)(a) and (b) regulate the relationship between FOISA, the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Processing of personal data must be fair as well as lawful, so fairness needs to be considered separately. Guidance issued by the ICO in relation to the UK GDPR states that fairness means public authorities should only handle personal data in ways that people would reasonably expect and not use it in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on them. Public authorities should therefore take the following into account:

  • Whether the individual expects their role to be subject to public scrutiny. Consideration should be given to the person’s seniority, whether they have a public profile and whether their role requires a significant level of personal judgement and individual responsibility.
  • Whether any distress or damage would be caused to the data subject as a result of the disclosure;
  • Any express refusal by the data subject;
  • Whether the information relates to the data subject’s public or private life. A person’s private life is likely to deserve more protection.

The majority of members within the reference group represent organisations. However, the group contains individuals who are not associated with organisations. Therefore, to protect those individuals from unexpected public scrutiny and potential distress or damage caused by disclosure, it is considered that the exemption, detailed above, is applicable in these circumstances.

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.


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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