….said the Scottish Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners Office in Scotland, at a meeting of the Scottish Public Information Forum earlier this month.

The Scottish Public Information Forum (SPIF) was originally established as a unique way to enable rights holders and duty bearers to meet and discuss how the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 was being implemented. Recently the Campaign for the Freedom of Information in Scotland has embarked on a project to revive SPIF with funding support from UNSION Scotland and help from partners including Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector and Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS).

The Forum has strong ties to what VAS and Third Sector Interfaces seek to achieve for the local community and voluntary sector: Enabling local groups and organisations to have good information to support them with their local plans; taking forward well-informed social action; and informing, feeding into and challenging decisions that are made about and with them.

Speaking at the meeting Elaine Gibb from VAS said:
Freedom of Information presents opportunities to achieve better and fairer outcomes for people and communities. Accessing key information increases understanding about local issues and leads to better decision making on services and funding.” 

In March the Forum’s meeting involved the Scottish Information Commissioner(SIC) updating on FoI requests, decisions, interventions and promotion and practice. The SIC highlighted the valuable work of TSIs in helping them to reach out to communities to raise awareness of FoI and use of it.

Maureen Falkner from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provided an overview on GDPR and endorsed the view of SIC, highlighting that TSIs have been key in enabling ICO to reach out to and communicate GDPR to local community and voluntary sector organisations.

The next meeting of the Scottish Public Information Forum takes place on 28th September 2018 in Dundee. It’s open to all and is a great opportunity for local and community voluntary sector to share their perspectives on FoI and access to public information with those responsible for enabling this.

Carole Ewart is the Convener of the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland. She has written a guest blog for VAS on Strengthening Freedom of Information for the Third Sector which you can read here