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COPFS

Section 65 of FOISA and Section 77 of FOIA - (R015124)

Thank you for your email of 7 January 2017 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA): 


“Participating in a recent seminar on Freedom of Information, I was asked how many prosecutions had been brought in Scotland in relation to the wilful destruction of documents, subject to an FOI request. I wasn't aware of any, but undertook to try and find out. 

What better way than an FOI request? I should therefore be grateful if you could give me the following information:

•        How many alleged offences under section 65 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 have been reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service since the commencement of the Act?

•        How many formal investigations have taken place into alleged offences under section 65 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 since the commencement of the Act?

•        How many (a) prosecutions and (b) prosecutions leading to a conviction have taken place in respect of offences under section 65 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 the commencement of the Act?

•        In how many cases since 1st January 2005 have alleged offences under section 65 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, been marked for 'No Proceedings'?

Given that offences relating to information held in Scotland by public authorities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, are dealt with under section 77 of the 2000 Act, I should be very grateful if you could provide me with the same information in relation to offences and alleged offences under section 77.”

Firstly I should explain that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s case management database is a live, operating database.  It is designed to meet our business needs in relation to the processing of cases and the information within it is structured accordingly.  We do not have a separate statistical database, and hold only operational data needed for business purposes.

I will firstly refer you to the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ which is a document outlining the framework for the investigation and reporting of alleged offences under this legislation agreed between the Scottish Information Commissioner, COPFS and Police Scotland. The ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ is accessible on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website at http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/home/AboutSIC/StrategicAgreements.aspx

In answer to your requests, I can advise that one charge has been reported to COPFS by Police Scotland under the legislation you have referred to in your request and this was reported on 24 November 2009.  No action was taken in relation to this charge.

You have asked how many formal investigations into alleged offences involving this legislation have been undertaken since the legislation was introduced.  You will note at point 3 of the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ that the Scottish Information Commissioner and Police Scotland are both responsible for investigating and, where appropriate, reporting allegations of the relevant offences to COPFS for consideration of prosecution and as a result COPFS does not hold this information in terms of Section 17 of FOISA.

You have asked for similar information in relation to Section 77 of FOIA 2000.  I can advise that Police Scotland would not report charges under this legislation to COPFS as this legislation relates to offences committed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and not Scotland.