A Freedom of Information request for data on the sources of demand for information from government departments, by TuS, has revealed that around £750 000 has been wasted on trawling for ‘scandals.’ This does not include the many requests made directly to such as local authorities, health boards or Police Scotland.
The average cost of a Freedom of Information request has been estimated at £234, so:
- The total cost of requests from all these groups trawling for bad news is around £750 000 since 2009.
- The costs incurred by opposition parties, often then fed to Reporting Scotland, the Herald and the Scotsman, is more than £300 000 and they are using such methods increasingly.
- The costs incurred by the newspapers such as the Scotsman and the Herald which often announce that they have done so, and then fed to Reporting Scotland, is nearly £400 000 and increasing steeply.
- The demand for information from TV broadcasters, mainly BBC judging by their own announcements, and had increased by 1600% in 2017.
- An unnamed political blog has made 10 such requests in the last year. Which is it? This was the first from TuS.
While there are legitimate reasons for some FoI requests, we know from the scare stories that were constructed out of a few of these that this is money not well-spent.