From 1 January 2005, the general entitlement to information under Section 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 enables any member of the public to make a request for information that is not in our publication scheme.
You must make your request in writing or in any form that can be kept for future use, for example, an audio recording or video tape. Please address your request to the Corporate Information Governance Officer, and include your name, address, and details of the information you require. It is helpful to include an email address or phone number so we can contact you for clarification if necessary. Our contact details.
If you are unsure of the information required, contact us and we will help you to describe the information you are looking for.
We should reply to your request for information as soon as possible. In most cases we must reply within 20 working days.
Information which is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 includes information which is personal data under Data Protection legislation. There has to be a balance between public access to information and the privacy rights of individuals. Authorities which hold personal information have responsibilities under Data Protection legislation and may be committing an offence if they give out personal information to other people.
Section 26 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 also provides that information the disclosure of which is prohibited by any other act is exempt. Section 19 of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 generally prohibits the disclosure of information about individual complaints except for purposes specified in that section.
In these cases, we will withhold the information and indicate why the information is being withheld. Even where an exemption exists, it may nevertheless be possible to provide copies with the exempted information edited out.
The SPSO does not currently charge for processing information requests.
Unhappy with our response
If you have waited for 20 working days and have not received a response to your request for information, or you have received a response but you are unhappy with the decision, you can request a review.
You must request a review within 40 working days after the end of the 20 working day period for responding to your request for information, or after the date of the response. You should write to the Director (see the ‘Contact us’ section). You should receive a response within 20 working days.
If we do not respond to your request for a review within the given time, or if you are unhappy with the outcome of the review, you can apply to the Scottish Information Commissioner, who oversees the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, for a decision. You should make your application to the Commissioner within six months of receiving our response to your request for review (or the date by which it should have responded to you). Following an investigation by the Commissioner, you have a right (on a point of law) of appeal to the Court of Session. Further details about your general rights to access information and the functions of the Scottish Information Commissioner can be found on his website.
Scottish Information Commissioner
If you want information about the environment, your request will be dealt with under separate environmental information rules called the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
If you require environmental information you can make a verbal request.
Access to personal information about you
There is no right to see personal information about yourself under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. You do, however, have rights to request and receive your own personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation.
Requests to the SPSO under Data Protection legislation for your personal data are free.
You can make your request orally or in writing. Written requests should be addressed to the Corporate Information Governance Officer (see the ‘Contact us’ section), and include your full name and address and any other information to help identify you and the information you need. You should receive a response within one month of receipt of the information needed to identify you and the information you need.
If you are unhappy with our handling of a request for your personal information, you can write to the Director (see the ‘Contact us’ section) to request a review. If you remain unhappy you can complain to the (UK) Information Commissioner. This is the independent public official who enforces rights to personal information. Her office can give you advice on your rights under Data Protection legislation. Her main office is based in Wilmslow, Cheshire:
Information Commissioner's Office