Date received: 24 March 2022
Date responded: 7 April 2022
We refer to the above and would be grateful if you would provide us with your guidance, policies and procedures relating to applicants who have previous convictions. In particular, we are seeking any internal guidance issued to caseworkers or the Panel, which gives guidance as to how to treat previous convictions. We are seeking guidance and policies further to the statutory guidance for applicants with convictions for serious offences, which is already publicly available.
Redress Scotland’s Response:
Information otherwise accessible
Some of the information you have requested cannot be provided as it is covered under Section 25 of the Act, which provides that a Scottish public authority may refuse to make information available where the information is otherwise accessible.
The information you have requested is already available by accessing the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 Statutory guidance. I have included the link to the relevant guidance below, and you can find the relevant information therein, with specific reference to sections 5-10, which cover the criteria the panel members are required to take into consideration when looking at previous criminal convictions. I have also included a link to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021, section 60 of which covers specifically the issue of applicants with serious criminal convictions. There is, for the avoidance of doubt, no legislation or operational guidance that would allow for a reduction of the amount of a redress payment as a result of any prior criminal convictions of an applicant.
If you have any difficulties in accessing the information then please contact me quoting the reference number above.
Section 30 exemption
Please find enclosed a copy of our Panel Member-Process-Management document which we consider falls within the scope of your request. You will note that some of the information contained within this document has been redacted on the basis that we consider it to be exempt from disclosure under the Act.
Section 30(c) of the Act provides that a Scottish public authority may refuse to make information available to the extent that disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the effective conduct of public affairs. The information requested relates to current policy and operational development comprising of screen shots and examples, disclosure of which would result in substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs.
This is on the basis that disclosure of the withheld information within the document would disclose confidential file information and examples, which are not essential for understanding of the guidance, and would be likely to lead to conclusions being drawn on how panel members will handle certain matters and revealing information regarding our electronic systems, which would likely to substantially prejudice how we exercise our public functions.
In applying Section 30(c) of the Act, we have considered the public interest test as required under Section 2(1)(b) of the Act. While there is a public interest in ensuring that Scottish public authorities operate transparently in respect of public matters, there is an overwhelming public interest in protecting the effective conduct of public affairs in ensuring that panel members can freely consider guidance to operate independently and effectively. Disclosure of the withheld information in this instance would be likely to substantially inhibit our ability to effectively exercise our public functions because of certain inferences that would be drawn from this information being made publically available at this stage. This is not in the public interest.
Accordingly, we are of the view that, in all the circumstances, the public interest in making this information available is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining the exemption contained in Section 30(c) of the Act.
Information and guidance given to caseworkers
With regards to your request for information for guidance given to caseworkers, we do not hold the requested information. Under Section 17 of the Act, where a Scottish public authority receive a request for information that they do not hold, they must issue notice advising that they do not hold the requested information. Please note that this letter constitutes a formal refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act in respect of this part of your request.
We have, where relevant, directed you to consider requesting certain information from Scottish Government. We have provided as much information as we are able to in relation to the roles and responsibilities of Redress Scotland within the scope of your request for informationBack to Freedom of Information Releases