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Copy of Paper EB16/17(35) - (R015448)

Thank you for your request dated 20 February 2017 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for a copy of the report referred to at Point 4 in the Agenda of the Minutes of the Executive Board Meeting on 15 December 2016 – Paper EB16/17(35)

The Court of Session judgment, Glasgow City Council and Dundee City Council v Scottish Information Commissioner [2009] CSIH 73 (issued on 30 September 2009) clarified that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) gives a right to information, not documents. In terms of FOISA you are therefore entitled to request information held by COPFS, but not necessarily the documents in which that information is contained.

Much of the information contained in Paper EB16/17(35) is contained in the Financial Strategy which is already published in on the COPFS website, therefore I consider that information exempt in terms of Section 25 of FOISA as it is already reasonably accessible to you and I attach a link to that published Financial Strategy for your information:

The remainder of Paper EB16/17(35) contains information on the background of the Financial Sustainability Project and who has overseen it.

For ease of reference, I have provided the information in an Annex to this response.

The paper also contains information on assumptions and pressures; savings (staff and non-staff); delivery and accountability; and risk. As stated above, much of this information is contained in the published Financial Strategy and I consider the remainder to be exempt from release under Section 30(b)(i) and (ii) on the basis that it is not in the public interest to release such information because it would inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and the free and frank exchange of views.

This is not an absolute exemption and I have to consider the public interest. I have considered what effect disclosure of the remaining information contained in the Paper would have on the provision of advice or the exchange of views, including whether it would be more likely that persons offering advice and expressing views would be unwilling to do so in the future and whether it would make it more likely that advice given and the views expressed in the future would be materially different because of the possibility of disclosure. I have taken the view that it is not in the public interest to disclose this information. I consider that if the information was released this would inhibit the future provision of free an frank advice without reserve and inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.

I also consider that some of the information contained within the Paper EB16/17(35) is exempt under Section 35(1)(a), (b) and (c) of FOISA. There is reference to a very small number of specific cases which are under investigation and I consider that the release of the information held would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially, the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders and the administration of justice.

However, these are not absolute exemptions which means that I am required by law to consider the public interest in disclosure of the information.

In balancing these public interest considerations, I have considered the potential effects of disclosure of specific case information, and I have come to the decision that the public interest in this particular case in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

R015448 - Annex A93.85 KB