Freedom of Information in Scotland and the UK: Time to Notice the Difference
This chapter considers the general Scottish experience of the freedom of information regime since it came fully into effect in 2005 and, in particular, how it compares to that elsewhere in the UK. It suggests that the profile of activity is surprisingly at variance with the rest of the UK (although the paucity of wholly reliable comparators is an issue). The specific impact of freedom of information laws on the local government sector in Scotland is then examined and suggests that, whilst authorities have by and large adopted a culture of compliance, there have been attitudinal and resource barriers to achieving the culture of openness which was the stated aspiration of the framers of the legislation. The chapter concludes by pointing to some of the trends in the delivery of public services, such as the use of arms length organisations and public – private partnerships, which may have a detrimental impact upon the extent of freedom of information in Scotland. It identifies measures which might be taken in mitigation which, in conjunction with other potential changes to the freedom of information regimes, would cause even greater divergence between Scotland and the rest of the UK.