After nine months of operation, St Helena Government’s Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information has so far received a total of eight requests for information. The Code, launched on 1 September 2014, relates to requests from the public for information held by SHG where it is not already available by other means. It also offers a central enquiry point for such requests.
The key elements of these requests are outlined below:
- Eight requests have been received since the Code was launched. Two were received in September, four in January 2015, one in February and one in March
- Four requests were approved and answered, with the requested information published on the SHG website at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/public-access-to-information/
- One request was dealt with by the Access Office, and three by Corporate Services
- The request dealt with by the Access Office related to the 2013 Habitat Survey Report – Dry Gut and the Southern Ridge of Prosperous Bay Plain
- Requests dealt with by Corporate Services related to copies of public transport agreements, Sure TV and telecoms license agreements and Councillors’ expenses.
- Four requests were declined under Exceptions in the Code. One related to the BFI agreement between Solomons and SHG, and was dealt with by the Financial Secretary. One requested a copy of a report on the escape of Captain Willem Merk, and was dealt with by the Police Directorate. The third refusal related to a legal request and was dealt with by the Attorney General. A fourth request was for a copy of the contract of license between SHG and Connect Saint Helena Ltd, where no such agreement exists.
- Reasons for non-disclosure included the Exceptions that: the information requested is not actually held by SHG; release of the information could prejudice the administration of justice; that release could be likely to allow individuals to be identified (where there is a legitimate and reasonable expectation that their identity should remain confidential); and where the information would be likely to prejudice someone’s legitimate commercial interests or where disclosure could lead to improper gain or advantage or would prejudice the competitive position of a public or private body.
- Seven of the eight requests were answered within the 20 day initial time period and the average response time was 17 working days. The only request which was not answered within the initial 20 working days period was that relating to the agreements with Sure, where the additional 20 day period was invoked in order to take legal advice.
SHG will provide a further update after a full year of operation of the Code.
The full Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information can be found at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Public-Access-to-SHG-Information-Code-of-Practice-1-September-2014-F.pdf
26 June 2015