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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 00:48 GMT
Information act hailed a success
Kevin Dunion
Kevin Dunion has received more than 1,000 appeals
The rate of freedom of information appeals in Scotland is double that in England, it has emerged.

The Scottish Information Commissioner said 1,082 appeals had been made in the two years since the act was introduced.

In his annual report, Kevin Dunion said the rate was double that received by his counterpart south of the border.

Mr Dunion said implementation of the act had been successful but warned the challenge now was to change the culture of public bodies.

During 2006, 511 people appealed to the commissioner in a bid to get information on a range of subjects - including health, crime, housing, planning, employment, the environment and education - from public bodies.

People still remain to be convinced that Scottish public authorities are changing culture to become more open and accountable
Kevin Dunion
Scotland's Information Commissioner

Other cases referred to matters the Dungavel Detention Centre and rendition flights at Prestwick Airport.

More than half of applications last year concerned a public body's refusal to release information, but in 14% of cases the authority concerned claimed not to hold the information being requested.

Public awareness of FoI laws has increased from 47% in 2005 to 72% in 2006, according to the report, with an increase of 10% in the appeals made by members of the public in the last year.

Just 12% of applications were made by members of the legal profession, with 8% made by the media and 6% by politicians.

'New experience'

Mr Dunion said that many people now recognised FoI laws were a powerful tool.

"People still remain to be convinced that Scottish public authorities are changing culture to become more open and accountable," he added.

"FoI in Scotland has been a major success, but we cannot be complacent, our experience is still very new."

Documents
Public bodies are still sometimes slow to make information available

The commissioner issued 236 decision notices last year - a 162% increase from 2005.

In 22% of all cases the commissioner found entirely in the applicant's favour and in 35% of cases he ruled partially in their favour.

Parliamentary Business Minister Margaret Curran said the FoI legislation was delivering "genuine benefits" to the public.

"Since the introduction of the act, the executive has routinely published more information than was previously available, and we are continuing work in this area in order to build upon the success to date," she said.

"There have been significant advances in the openness of public authorities and it is important to acknowledge all of the progress made since FoI was introduced two years ago."

However, it was also important that public bodies were not overburdened with paperwork, she added.




SEE ALSO
Victory in information test case
01 Dec 06 |  South of Scotland
Public bodies 'not open enough'
20 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Dungavel documents appeal upheld
25 Sep 06 |  Glasgow and West
Warning over data law 'failures'
22 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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