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FoI commissioner says access to information has been weakened over past 10 years

By Hamish Mackay

January 10, 2012 | 2 min read

The Information Commissioner for Scotland, Kevin Dunion, has declared that access to information about public services has been weakened in the past decade.

According to a report in The Herald, on a situation which has specific implications for the media, Dunion said people were less able to access data than when Freedom of Information legislation came into force in 2002.

The Herald report continues: “Mr Dunion said the outsourcing of services to private trusts and bodies by councils made it harder for people to find out information about their homes, healthcare and schools.

It quotes him as saying: “We’re losing existing rights where local authorities are outsourcing, not only to private companies, but to trusts they have set up. People lose rights to information about the functions of these trusts.”

Calling for the powers of his successor to be beefed up, Dunion added: “If an authority destroys, defaces, or alters information that should be available under FoI, that is a serious offence and can lead to a criminal conviction or a fine.

“But prosecution would have to take place within six months of the offence happening. Often that is not possible.”

Dunion steps down from his post next month.

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