In September 2014, St Helena Government launched its new Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information. 32 months on and the system – which offers a central point of enquiry for the public to request information from SHG that is not already available by other means – is still working well.
So far, 29 requests have been received in total, two of which are currently being dealt with and 10 which have been refused for various reasons (allowed in the Code). Reasons for refusing requests include when the information requested:
- Was already available in the public domain
- Was not actually held by SHG
- Could or could 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
- Could be likely to allow individuals to be identified, where there is a legitimate and reasonable expectation that their identity should remain confidential
- Would take a disproportionate amount of staff time to answer
- Would, or would be likely to prejudice the administration of justice
Corporate Services Executive Manager, Carol George, said:
“The system appears to be working quite well. A lot of the requests received have come from Island media, journalists with an interest in St Helena, or from businesses seeking information to assist with informing business decisions.
“In cases where SHG has held the proprietary rights to the information requested, the information has been provided in the majority of requests either in full or redacted format.”
The Code draws on access to information policies and legislation in the UK (e.g. FOI) and other island states. It applies to all information held with proprietary rights by SHG, regardless of who produced or supplied the information and subject to the Exceptions listed in the Code. The Code requires all SHG employees dealing with requests to ensure that any request received from the public for information and made under the Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information, is dealt with in compliance with the Code.
All requests for SHG information made under the Code of Practice, should be sent, in writing, directly to the Corporate Services Executive Manager, SHG, at the Castle, or by e-mail to: email@example.com
The Code of Practice and information which has so far been made available under the Code can be viewed at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/public-access-to-information/
29 May 2017