FOI Friday: 10 things we’ve learnt this week thanks to the Freedom of Information Act

1. Local jobs for local workers?

We kick off this week with one which could be replicated in lots of places. The Manchester Evening News asked the region’s passenger transport executive for any statistics which revealed where construction workers employed on the Metrolink extension came from. This sort of stat is increasingly kept by public sector organisations when delivering big projects because a condition of tender is often that the work must be done by local people. The MEN found out as a result that just a third of workers on the project were from Greater Manchester.

2. Police dog attacks

We’ve had FOIs on several occasions about the number of people being attacked by dogs, but this one from the Cambridge News is the first time I have seen an FOI about the amount paid out by police for injuries caused by their police dogs.

3. Lost speeding tickets

Back on the speed camera trail again, and the Lancashire Evening Post reports on how 3,000 speeding tickets went unpaid last year – because police couldn’t track down the cars, probably because of fake number plates.

4. Drug dealing children

FOI requests about youngsters and the crimes they have committed are quite common, but this one from the Northern Echo, investigating how involved children are in drugs in County Durham, is a good new angle on it.

5. Injuries to firemen

The Scotsman in, er, Scotland has got hold of a list of injuries sustained by firefighters in Lothian over the past year. Perhaps surprisingly, many were injured during training exercises.

6. Pension deficits

The Express and Echo is Exeter this week revealed that black holes in pension funds aren’t only an issue in the private sector, but a big problem for public sector workers too. At Devon and Cornwall Police, there is currently a £1.6bn blackhole, along with Devon Council, which has a shortfall of around £590million.

7. Stolen from the police

One of the earliest FOIs I covered here involved thefts from police stations. The Manchester Evening News has gone one better, seeking information for the items stolen  from police stations and the police:

Police gear worth nearly £90,000 has been stolen from officers in Greater Manchester in the past three-and-a-half years.
Equipment – including vehicles and bicycles worth a total of more than £50,000 – has been taken from station yards, car parks, vehicles and swiped on the street, according to figures released by GMP under the Freedom of Information Act.
There were 249 thefts from the force recorded in the three years from 2006 to 2008 plus 44 in the first six months of 2009. They include one £30,000 vehicle taken from a police compound and a £10,000 vehicle taken on the street, as well as another £1,000 vehicle, 35 bicycles and three motorbikes.

Police gear worth nearly £90,000 has been stolen from officers in Greater Manchester in the past three-and-a-half years.
Equipment – including vehicles and bicycles worth a total of more than £50,000 – has been taken from station yards, car parks, vehicles and swiped on the street, according to figures released by GMP under the Freedom of Information Act.
There were 249 thefts from the force recorded in the three years from 2006 to 2008 plus 44 in the first six months of 2009. They include one £30,000 vehicle taken from a police compound and a £10,000 vehicle taken on the street, as well as another £1,000 vehicle, 35 bicycles and three motorbikes.

8. Positive drugs tests in the army

To The Sun for an FOI about drugs tests in the army. They’ve focused on the regiment which Princes William and Harry are connected to, but it would seem the statistic is easy to break down for any regiment

9. Attacks on social workers

Sticking with the Sun, although this time the Scottish edition, and here is a story about the number of attacks on social workers north of the border, including a worrying one sex attack a week on social workers.

10. A police legal bill

The Argus in Brighton reports on the near £1million a year legal bill Sussex Police faces for things like human resources and compensation claims. One side of the law which would otherwise go unreported?

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