Freedom of Information and the Third Sector
Date: Thursday, 24 November 2016
Time: 11.00am to 12.00pm
Venue: Webinar hosted on the GoToWebinar platform
Cost: £25 per person (includes slide presentation in electronic format)
Freedom of information (FOI) has provided individuals and organisations with a right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities (SPAs) since 1 January 2005.
Despite this, FOI remains relatively underused by Scottish third sector organisations (TSOs). Research undertaken by the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) provides two reasons for this: (1) TSOs are concerned that making FOI requests could have a negative impact on their working and funding relationships with SPAs; and (2) TSOs are not fully aware of what FOI entitles them to and how to exercise their FOI rights.
FOI is a valuable tool for TSOs to:
obtain further information on SPA decisions affecting their service users, the underlying rationale and to hold officials to account;
highlight an issue of concern and bring it higher up an SPA’s corporate agenda;
use information obtained to improve core service quality for their service users;
help with campaigning and advocacy work and lobby the Scottish Parliament during the law-making process;
access information on service availability;
identify forthcoming policy and legal changes and scrutinise or challenge them; and
work collaboratively with SPAs to improve the quality of public services.
Daradjeet Jagpal of Information Law Solutions, an independent legal consultancy specialising in delivering advisory, audit and training services to the third sector in Data Protection, Access to Information and Direct Marketing laws, will provide participants with an overview of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and how FOISA can be used by TSOs to their advantage. He will also provide practical tips and guidance on:
how to frame an FOI request;
the FOI request handling process;
exemptions commonly relied on by SPAs to withhold information from disclosure;
the differences between FOISA and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004;
how TSOs can challenge SPAs’ responses to FOI requests at the review stage and by making an application to the SIC; and
how TSOs can prevent disclosure of their confidential and commercial information held by SPAs in response to FOI requests.
No previous FOI knowledge is required and the webinar is suitable for anyone within a TSO who is interested in FOI, regardless of their role, level of skill or experience or if they have previously made an FOI request.
The live webinar will provide participants with an opportunity to ask Daradjeet questions in writing using the GoToWebinar questions pane. Questions will be responded to by follow-up e-mail and an electronic copy of the slide presentation will also be made available to participants after the webinar.
The webinar is hosted on the GoToWebinar platform. Participants can attend at their desks via the GoToWebinar desktop app, through their Internet browser software by clicking on the provided web address or on the move by installing the GoToWebinar mobile app on their devices.
Participants are responsible for ensuring that their devices meet the technical requirements to join and view the webinar.
Participants will be issued with an electronic certificate confirming attendance at the webinar for their training records.