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Scottish Government intervention - communications and records

Scottish Government Intervention - communications and records

On 4 February 2024 the Scottish Information Commissioner notified the Scottish Government that he was launching an intervention to support improvements in the organisation's practice with regard to the use of informal communication tools such as WhatsApp, and associated issues relating to the recording, retention and identification of information. 


The launch of the intervention has been informed by the evidence and statements made during Module 2A of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, which is examining pandemic-related decision-making in Scotland. 

In launching the intervention, Scottish Information Commissioner David Hamilton said:

"The evidence disclosed during Module 2A of the UK Covid -19 Inquiry raises significant practice concerns which warrant further investigation by my office.

"It is critical that public officials retain information which allows the public to understand how decisions are reached, for both record keeping requirements and to maintain public confidence.  Understanding how decisions are reached is how public trust in decisions are secured and lessons learned for the future.

"It is also evident that the use of informal communication channels present risks to transparency and accountability within government. My intervention will review current practices as well as identifying actions to be taken to ensure improvements are made in relation to how officials and Ministers use and retain informal communications in future." 

About the intervention

The intervention sits alongside, but is separate from, the Commissioner's ongoing intervention to support improvements in the Scottish Government's FOI practice

Like that action, this intervention will take place at Level 3 of the Commissioner's Intervention Procedures. Level 3 interventions aim to address serious systemic failures in practice, and typically require a detailed action plan to be put in place to address any failures or practice concerns identified. 

On 7 February 2024 the Commissioner wrote to the Scottish Government to provide further information on the intervention. This letter is published below.

Scottish Government Intervention: Communication and records - Letter to the Permanent Secretary

Further relevant updates on this intervention activity will be published on this webpage in due course.