Rise in Freedom of Information appeals

Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew released her annual report on Tuesday. Photograph: Maverick Photo Agency

Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew released her annual report on Tuesday. Photograph: Maverick Photo Agency

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EIGHT appeals regarding Freedom of Information requests to Scottish Borders Council were lodged with the Scottish Information Commissioner in 2012/13, it was revealed on Tuesday.

In her annual report, Rosemary Agnew said that in total there had been a 14 per cent rise in appeals to her office in the last year.

The previous year just three appeals were submitted relating to the council.

Other Borders public authorities which were subject to appeals in 2012/13 were NHS Borders (four), Borders College (one) and Lothian and Borders Police (two).

Of all the appeals, none were upheld, and only two were partially upheld, one against the council and the other against NHS Borders.

One of Mrs Agnew’s decisions also went in favour of the council. The remainder were either closed without investigation, settled during investigation or withdrawn.

Discussing the rise in FOI appeals, Mrs Agnew said: “Our case volumes have continued to rise, with a 14 per cent rise over the last year and a 49 per cent increase in the last five years.

“I’m happy to report that we’ve been able to manage these increases through a combination of hard work and a considered review of how we conduct our business. As a result, we have closed more cases than ever and reduced the time we take to investigate appeals.”

However, she raised concerns that if the rise in appeals and decrease in resources continues, her ability to enforce FOI legislation effectively may be compromised.