Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1,000 FOI Stories from 2006 and 2007

A new report by the Campaign for Freedom of Information summarises more than 1,000 press stories based on disclosures under the UK and Scottish FOI acts in 2006 and 2007. The stories demonstrate the enormous range of information being released under FOI and reveal the substantial contribution to accountability made by the acts.

In 2006, the government proposed to restrict the UK FOI Act, partly because of what it said was excessive use of the Act being made by journalists. The report shows how valuable the press's use of FOI has been. The proposals were dropped by Gordon Brown after he became prime minister in 2007.

Download 1,000 FOI Stories from 2006 and 2007.
(Note: the report is 250 pages and may take a little while to download).�

Monday, September 29, 2008

FOI statistics April-June 2008

The quarterly monitoring statistics on FOI implementation within central government for April-June 2008 have been published:
Executive summary

Departments of State reported receiving 4,879 “non-routine” information requests during the second quarter of 2008 (Q2). Other monitored bodies received 3,986 requests. Across all monitored bodies, a total of 8,865 requests were received, of which 92 per cent had been processed at the time of monitoring. This includes 183 requests handled under the amended
Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) which came into force on 1 January 2005. [see Table 1]

The 8,865 requests across all monitored bodies received in the second quarter of 2008 is 11 per cent greater than the 7,988 received during the corresponding quarter of 2007, and is the highest quarterly total since Q1 of 2007. [see Table A]

During Q2 of 2008, 87 per cent of all monitored bodies’ requests (excluding those “on hold” or lapsed) were “in time”, in that they were processed within the statutory deadline* or were subject to a permitted deadline extension. This figure is two percentage points lower than in the previous quarter, and four percentage points lower than in the corresponding quarter of 2007. [see Table 2 and Table B]

Of all “resolvable” requests received during Q2 of 2008 (i.e. requests where it was possible to make a substantive decision on whether to release the information being sought), 59 per cent were granted in full, a small increase compared to the previous quarter. [see Table 3 and Table C]
Download the full statistics bulletin
Information rights awareness survey

The Ministry of Justice has released the latest tracker survey carried out with members of the public to discover levels of awareness and attitudes towards information rights legislation.

The fieldwork for the latest survey was carried out in June 2008.

Key results include:

1. Factual awareness of information rights
"People have the legal right to get hold of information about the work of a public authority"

True 83%
False 14%
Don't know 4%

2. Attitudes to information rights issues - Freedom of Information
"Public authorities are becoming more open about what they do and how they are run"

Agree strongly 13%
Agree slightly 37%
Neither agree nor disagree 20%
Disagree slightly 17%
Disagree strongly 12%
Don't know 1%

Download full survey.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Training courses for FOI requesters

The Campaign for Freedom of Information is running two half-day training courses for FOI requesters on 9 December 2008. The morning course will be an introduction to using the FOI Act, aimed at those who are new to the legislation. The afternoon course will be a more advanced course highlighting the way the key provisions of the Act are being applied by the Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal. People are welcome to attend either one or both courses, which will be in central London. Prices and booking information will be posted on the Campaign's website shortly. Please email us if you would like to be notified when the full details are available.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scottish Information Commissioner Decisions courses

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland is providing two half-day training courses in Glasgow on Monday 10 November and Aberdeen on Tuesday 11 November 2008. The training will be lead by Maurice Frankel, Director of the Campaign.

The courses, which are aimed at those with a good working knowledge of the legislation, will highlight key developments in the way the main exemptions, the public interest test and the legislation's procedural requirements are being interpreted. The courses will be presented by the Campaign's director, Maurice Frankel.

While the course will focus on the decisions issued by the Scottish Information Commissioner, it will also cover decisions issued by the UK Commissioner and Tribunal and the Court of Session that have implications for Scottish public authorities.

Download the course leaflet here.