Scottish Animal Welfare Commission: FOISA guide to information

Guide to information held by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission.


The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 requires Scottish public authorities to produce and maintain a publication scheme.  Authorities are under a legal obligation to:

  • publish the classes of information that they make routinely available
  • tell the public how to access the information and what it might cost 

The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) has adopted the Model Publication Scheme 2018 produced by the Scottish Information Commissioner. You can see this scheme on the Commissioner’s website or by contacting us at the address below if you prefer a copy to be provided to you in another format. 

Established in 2020 by virtue of the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/177), SAWC is Scotland’s first statutory body responsible exclusively for providing independent advice on issues of animal welfare. 

In its current form, this Guide to Information reflects the small amount of information which the body currently holds. As the SAWC moves into ‘business as usual’, the guide will grow to reflect the information it holds and be updated (or replaced) as needed. 


The purpose of this guide to information is to: 

  • allow the public to see what information is available (and what is not available) in relation to each class
  • state what charges may be applied
  • explain how to find the information
  • provide contact details for enquiries and to get help with accessing the information
  • explain how to request information we hold that has not been published

If you prefer, you can contact us (details below) to ask for a hard copy of the Guide to be posted to you.

Availability and formats

The information we publish through the Model Publication Scheme is, wherever possible, available on our web section.

We offer alternative arrangements for people who do not want to, or cannot, access the information online or by inspection at our premises. For example, we can usually arrange to send information to you in paper copy (although there may be a charge for this – see ‘Charges’ below).

Exempt information 

We will publish the information we hold that falls within the classes of information below.  If a document contains information that is exempt under Scotland’s freedom of information laws (for example, sensitive personal information or a trade secret), we will remove or “black out” the information before publication and explain why.


Where we hold the copyright in our published information, the information may be copied or reproduced without formal permission, provided that:

  • it is copied or reproduced accurately
  • it is not used in a misleading context
  • the source of the material is identified

Where we do not hold the copyright in information we publish, we will make this clear.


Once published, we will generally make information available for the current and previous two years.


There is no charge to view information on our website or at our premises.

We may charge for providing information to you (e.g., photocopying and postage), but we will charge you no more than it costs us to do so. We will always tell you what the cost is before providing the information to you.  If recharged, postage costs will be recharged at the rate we paid to send the information to you.

Contact us

You can contact us about any aspect of the Commission through our Secretariat Support:
Secretariat Support for the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission
Saughton House
EH11 3XD 


We will also advise you how to ask for information that we do not publish or how to complain if you are dissatisfied with any aspect of this publication scheme.

SAWC Guide to Information

Appendix 1 of the Model Publication Scheme 2018 gives an explanation of each class of information listed below.  You can see this scheme on the Commissioner’s website or by contacting us at the address above if you prefer a copy to be provided to you in another format.

Class 1: About the authority

  • role of the Commission
  • contact details
  • biographies of Commission members
  • Terms of Reference
  • Register of Interests
  • Work Plan
  • Minutes of Meetings

Class 2: How we deliver our functions and services

The Commission will meet 2 to 3 times per year, with most communication and work done by e-mail and in smaller working groups between full plenary meetings.  Its annual workplan will be published on the Commission's group page. Each year it will produce a report setting out how it has delivered against that workplan, and that report will be laid before the Scottish Parliament. The Commission will also make the minutes of its meetings publicly available online.

Class 3: How we take decisions and what we decide

The Commission will provide written reports and opinions to Scottish Ministers giving practical recommendations based on scientific evidence and ethical considerations on:

  • The way that the welfare needs of sentient animals are being met by the Scottish Government in all areas of policy development within the remit of Scottish Ministers – an annual report.
  • Possible changes in legislation proposed to protect the welfare of sentient animals and the relative priority that should be given to these, taking into account the number of animals affected, the severity of the problem and the probability that legislative change will be effective – an annual report with interim opinions as requested by the Minister
  • Non-legislative routes to improve animal welfare within the control of Government including guidance and public awareness campaigns, collaborative working with stakeholders etc. - interim opinions as appropriate
  • Research requirements to provide evidence for policy development
  • Short rapid opinions on specific issues at the request of the Minister

Our understanding, and use, of evidence is based on previous work done by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee on types of evidence and how decisions should be made on the basis of evidence. Wherever possible SAWC will be guided by the scientific evidence available at the time. However, we recognise that this can be flawed, and that some evidence is not available in the published literature.  Evidence from unpublished studies and the evidence of a group of experts (including those with practical or experiential expertise) will also be used where there is insufficient published evidence. Throughout the purpose of our decision making will be focused on animal welfare improvements.

SAWC is made up of a range of experts from different disciplines relevant to animal welfare and has access to a range of veterinary and welfare advisors within Scottish Government. Expert views may also be sought or co-opted onto working groups where particular areas of expertise are required.

In making our decisions, we will make use of the best available evidence at the time, with the aim of providing advice that we believe would improve animal welfare. As far as possible we will work to achieve consensus on advice or decision-making within the Commission. If this is not achieved, where necessary, a vote will be taken where the Commission needs to make a decision. Each member will be allocated one vote and, in the event that no clear decision is reached, i.e. equal votes, the Chair will have the casting vote.  All decision outcomes, and the numbers for and against will be noted in the minutes.

Class 4: What we spend and how we spend it

Appointments to the Commission are for four years and members receive no financial remuneration for their time.  Members will however be reimbursed reasonable travel and subsistence expenses.

Class 5: How we manage our human, physical and information resources

Human Resources

The Animal Welfare Team provides Secretariat support for the Commission, and is therefore subject to Scottish Government human resource policies.

Physical Resources

The Secretariat support is based in Saughton House, Edinburgh.

Information Resources

The Secretariat is responsible for answering Freedom of Information requests.

Class 6: How we procure goods and services from external providers


Class 7: How we are performing

Detail of the Commission’s performance, work plan, and associated reports will be available on the Commission's group page.

Class 8: Our commercial publications 


Class 9: Our open data

As the Commission is still in its early stages we do not yet have any information to publish in the class. We will update this as soon as it becomes available.

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