Only one third of Scots think that public authorities are now more open and accountable

The number of people in Scotland who believe that Scottish public authorities have become more open since the Freedom of Information Act came into force is declining, according to a study carried out by the Scottish Information Commissioner. According to the research the proportion of those who "strongly agree" that authorities are becoming more open and accountable dropped from 47 per cent to 34 per cent between April and October 2005.

However, public awareness of rights provided under the FOI legislation appears to have risen. Nearly 60 per cent of people surveyed had definitely heard of the act, while 20 per cent definitely had, or thought they had, heard of the Commissioner.

The proportion of people who have made a written request for information held by a public authority rose from 4 per cent to 8 per cent. Mr Dunion said: "Already the act is being used by thousands of people across Scotland and we can expect that number to grow as awareness increases of its potential use and relevance to individuals. The nature of requests and the types of people using their new powers is in line with the first-year experience of other democracies where similar laws have been introduced."

Scots dubious over the benefits of freedom of information laws (The Scotsman, 12 December 2005)

Third survey of public awareness of freedom of information rights (Scottish Information Commissioner's website)