Freedom of information and ‘vexatious’ requests — The case of Scottish local government

Morag Cherry, David McMenemy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper investigates the cost and incidence of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests within local authorities in Scotland and in particular, the cost and incidence of requests which have been defined as ‘vexatious’ in order to investigate if the negative perceptions surrounding the cost and misuse of the legislation are justified. Additionally, the criteria and guidelines that local authorities are using to define ‘vexatious’ are also examined. The approach taken to the research in this study is a survey of the 32 local authorities in Scotland using freedom of information requests as the data collection method.
The findings from the survey revealed that none of the local authorities were keeping records of costs relating to FOI requests. However, 80% were keeping records of numbers of requests. One third of authorities that kept records of ‘vexatious’ requests had experienced such a request. However, the actual number of ‘vexatious’ requests received were extremely low.
The findings highlight the difficulties in recording cost data and the general lack of record keeping within organisations. The findings also indicate a very low incidence of ‘vexatious’ requests and suggest that the ‘vexatious’ definition may be applied inappropriately by public authorities.
LanguageEnglish
Pages257–266
Number of pages10
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Volume30
Issue number3
Early online date11 May 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Fingerprint

freedom of information
costs
incidence
data collection method
public authorities
recording
legislation
lack

Keywords

  • exemptions
  • freedom of information
  • vexatious requests

Cite this

@article{2fde8985e54446b3883d18a84afe21ab,
title = "Freedom of information and ‘vexatious’ requests — The case of Scottish local government",
abstract = "This paper investigates the cost and incidence of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests within local authorities in Scotland and in particular, the cost and incidence of requests which have been defined as ‘vexatious’ in order to investigate if the negative perceptions surrounding the cost and misuse of the legislation are justified. Additionally, the criteria and guidelines that local authorities are using to define ‘vexatious’ are also examined. The approach taken to the research in this study is a survey of the 32 local authorities in Scotland using freedom of information requests as the data collection method. The findings from the survey revealed that none of the local authorities were keeping records of costs relating to FOI requests. However, 80{\%} were keeping records of numbers of requests. One third of authorities that kept records of ‘vexatious’ requests had experienced such a request. However, the actual number of ‘vexatious’ requests received were extremely low. The findings highlight the difficulties in recording cost data and the general lack of record keeping within organisations. The findings also indicate a very low incidence of ‘vexatious’ requests and suggest that the ‘vexatious’ definition may be applied inappropriately by public authorities.",
keywords = "exemptions, freedom of information, vexatious requests",
author = "Morag Cherry and David McMenemy",
note = "Accepted post-print",
year = "2013",
month = "7",
doi = "10.1016/j.giq.2013.02.004",
language = "English",
volume = "30",
pages = "257–266",
journal = "Government Information Quarterly",
issn = "0740-624X",
number = "3",

}

Freedom of information and ‘vexatious’ requests — The case of Scottish local government. / Cherry, Morag; McMenemy, David.

In: Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 3, 07.2013, p. 257–266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Freedom of information and ‘vexatious’ requests — The case of Scottish local government

AU - Cherry, Morag

AU - McMenemy, David

N1 - Accepted post-print

PY - 2013/7

Y1 - 2013/7

N2 - This paper investigates the cost and incidence of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests within local authorities in Scotland and in particular, the cost and incidence of requests which have been defined as ‘vexatious’ in order to investigate if the negative perceptions surrounding the cost and misuse of the legislation are justified. Additionally, the criteria and guidelines that local authorities are using to define ‘vexatious’ are also examined. The approach taken to the research in this study is a survey of the 32 local authorities in Scotland using freedom of information requests as the data collection method. The findings from the survey revealed that none of the local authorities were keeping records of costs relating to FOI requests. However, 80% were keeping records of numbers of requests. One third of authorities that kept records of ‘vexatious’ requests had experienced such a request. However, the actual number of ‘vexatious’ requests received were extremely low. The findings highlight the difficulties in recording cost data and the general lack of record keeping within organisations. The findings also indicate a very low incidence of ‘vexatious’ requests and suggest that the ‘vexatious’ definition may be applied inappropriately by public authorities.

AB - This paper investigates the cost and incidence of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests within local authorities in Scotland and in particular, the cost and incidence of requests which have been defined as ‘vexatious’ in order to investigate if the negative perceptions surrounding the cost and misuse of the legislation are justified. Additionally, the criteria and guidelines that local authorities are using to define ‘vexatious’ are also examined. The approach taken to the research in this study is a survey of the 32 local authorities in Scotland using freedom of information requests as the data collection method. The findings from the survey revealed that none of the local authorities were keeping records of costs relating to FOI requests. However, 80% were keeping records of numbers of requests. One third of authorities that kept records of ‘vexatious’ requests had experienced such a request. However, the actual number of ‘vexatious’ requests received were extremely low. The findings highlight the difficulties in recording cost data and the general lack of record keeping within organisations. The findings also indicate a very low incidence of ‘vexatious’ requests and suggest that the ‘vexatious’ definition may be applied inappropriately by public authorities.

KW - exemptions

KW - freedom of information

KW - vexatious requests

U2 - 10.1016/j.giq.2013.02.004

DO - 10.1016/j.giq.2013.02.004

M3 - Article

VL - 30

SP - 257

EP - 266

JO - Government Information Quarterly

T2 - Government Information Quarterly

JF - Government Information Quarterly

SN - 0740-624X

IS - 3

ER -