Bedfordshire on Sunday

The best advert placement you’ll ever see … or the most unfortunate?

I was going to write a post about the art of the social headline as opposed to the SEO headline, but I think I’ll leave that to another day.

It was going to be based on the story below, from Bedfordshire on Sunday:

best advert placement ever-a

You’d read that if you saw it on Twitter, right? Course you would.

But then I saw the advert inbetween the headline and intro:

(more…)

FOI Friday: Cannabis, university spending, race crimes at the football and asbestos in council buildings

FOIFRIDAYLOGOUnpaid court fines tops £4million – Bedfordshire On Sunday

MORE than £4 million in court fines is owed to courts in Bedfordshire, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The figures, released by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), show that last September the amount of fines owed to the county’s courts stood at £4,286,800.

The criminal with 145 crimes to his names – Newcastle Journal

A ONE-MAN crime wave racked up 145 offences in two years, re-offending figures have revealed.

The string of crimes makes the 20-year-old male from Durham the region’s most prolific offender.

He was closely followed by a 38-year-old female and a 45-year-old male who committed 130 crimes each between January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2012, say Durham Constabulary.

In total, the top nine offenders together were responsible for 702 crimes across the force area.

Freedom of Information requests to North East police forces revealed just 19 criminals were behind more than a thousand crimes in the region over the last two years.

1000 council buildings containing Asbestos – North Wales Daily Post

SCHOOLS, leisure centres and public toilets are among more than 1,000 council-owned buildings in North Wales which contain asbestos.

A Freedom of Information request by the Daily Post has revealed that all types of the dangerous substance which is now illegal to use – are found in buildings across the region including the most hazardous material, crocidolite.

The figures showed Gwynedd to have the highest number of buildings containing asbestos with 409 in total, which included Arfon Leisure Centre in Caernarfon, Bangor Swimming Pool and Hafod Y Gest care home in Porthmadog.

Pauper funeral rise in Plymouth – Plymouth  Herald

ALMOST 100 people in Plymouth have been buried in so-called ‘paupers’ graves’.

The depressing statistic paints a harrowing picture of people in the community dying penniless and in isolation.

The figures on state-funded funerals were released to The Herald through the Freedom of Information Act.

But the reality could be much worse, since people who die in hospital are the responsibility of Plymouth Hospitals Trust.

(more…)

FOI Friday: Council employee compo, eating disorders, gypsy education and spying

 1.  Employer liability claims against councils

Lancahsire County Council paid out £1,250 to a member of staff who got a bad back from carrying a heavy refreshments tray while on duty. That was one of 179 claims made against LCC, reported by the Lancashire Evening Post, over the past four years – payouts have totalled more than £2million. Perhaps the most surprising one was this one:

 £5,500 to a worker who fell out of bed responding to a phone call

2. Councils watching you 

A handy reminder of the value of returning to FOIs which may have been done elsewhere in the past. The Sunday Sun asked councils to reveal details of when they had used Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) powers to investigate members of the public.

The act means authorities can follow residents suspected of crime, trawl their internet browsing history and recruit informants and private investigators to monitor their movements. Some councils in the North even use it to snoop on their own staff.

3. Children with eating disorders

Bedfordshire on Sunday carried a worrying report on how eating disorders among young children was on the rise. It obtained the information by asking the South Essex Partnership Trust – the mental health trust for the area – for details of the numbers of cases, the sex of each case, and the age. The youngest were six and seven.

(more…)

FOI Friday: Posh cars, charity cuts, ambulance waits and smoking fines

Charity tin

1. The cuts, they hurt 

Good stuff from the Lancashire Telegraph as it set out to find where the cuts are falling at local councils, and who is suffering. For this FOI, it zoomed in on the amount being given out in grants to community groups and charities. No surprise, they’ve been cut. But the level of the cuts – some £3million – show charities are really suffering.

2. Spending on luxury cars

I sometimes wince a bit at stories which reveal how much is spent on luxury cars for public sector bosses. For example, if a police chief constable has a nice car, should we be offended? Probably not. But the Sunday Sun’s revelation that £500,000 a year is spent on cars for senior managers in the NHS in the north east could be seen as a good representation of spending which should be reviewed:

Audi TTs, Mercedes, Jaguar X types, trendy Nissan Qashqais and top of the range BMWs are among the 165 cars being leased to health leaders across the North’s health trusts

We used the Freedom of Information Act to ask eight health trusts how much they’ve spent on leasing cars to trust board members, senior managers and top nursing staff earning more than £54,000 – and a whopping £641,187 has been spent between them.

3. Serious untoward incidents on the rise

I’ve written a lot about ‘serious untoward incidents’ at hospitals, which many journalists have been using FOI to find out about. But this story from the Shropshire Star is worth mention because it not only reveals the sorts of incidents, but also breaks them down by year. The worry here is that the number of cases are going up – a sign of a stretched NHS?

(more…)

FOI Friday: 10 things we discovered thanks to Freedom of Information this week

Compensation to prisoners, use of tasers in Cambridgeshire, probation breaches in Bedfordshire and the criminal record of a football legend. FOI Friday has a distinct criminal theme this week…

Compensation paid to prisoners

The Lincolnshire Echo published details of compensation payouts to to prisoners at jails in its area. A total of £16,365 has been spent in the last two years on compensation at the county’s three prisons – HMP Lincoln, Morton Hall, near Swinderby, and North Sea Camp, near Boston.  A total of £4,500 of that was paid out for injuries sustained by inmates. A further £3,400 had to be forked out because of unlawful detention – such as prisoners being kept in the cells for longer than required.

Taser use in Cambridgeshire

My image of Cambridgeshire is of pretty little towns like Stamford, and the university city of Cambridge. Admittedly, I did cover an attempted murder of a man whose wife had hired a hitman, only to find out he was cop, in Cambridge once. But they were from Lancashire, which kind of explained it in part. Anyway, the Cambridge News used FOI to find out how often tasers had been used “to resolve dangerous situations”. The answer was 500. Shocking?

Was the Wizard of Dribble a coffee crook?

The John Terry scandal this is not, but using the Freedom of Information Act to gain information on legendary football Sir Stanley Matthews came up trumps for someone, reports the Daily Mail. The MoD released “secret” files – which presumably wouldn’t be available if Matthews was still alive today – and fellow player Stan Mortensen was arrested for trying to sell contraband coffee and soap during the Second World War whilst playing an international match in Belgium. Not a big story by any stretch, but an interesting precedent perhaps?

(more…)