Behaviour of public officials revealed by FOI leads to drop in public trust in government

Public trust in government has dropped sharply in the past year as a result of the revelations about the secretive behaviour of public officials exposed by freedom of information legislation. Only 46% of people in Scotland think the public should have more confidence in the decisions made by public authorities, compared with 53% last year. There has been a similar drop, from 67% to 60%, in those who think public authorities are becoming more accountable.

Rob Edwards of the Sunday Herald reports that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, which came into force in January last year, was meant to boost confidence in government decision-making by making it more transparent. But an opinion poll of more than 1000 people for the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, suggests that so far it has had the opposite effect. “A lot of the stories that have come about because of freedom of information are stories the authorities would have previously withheld and weren’t keen on releasing,” said Dunion.

‘Secretive’ officials erode public trust (Sunday Herald, 19 November 2006)