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

Short measures

Starting this week with a brilliant bit of data which will anger all drinkers and drivers – the number of short measures recorded by trading standards officers in Wales. The Western Mail used FOI to find this out from Welsh councils. The figures are very high.

The cost of council redundancies

It’s one thing, of course, for the coalition government to talk about the need to save money by cutting jobs – but quite another to do so without talking about the main cost involved: redundancy payouts. The Beford Times and Citizen reveals through FOI that the bill in Bedford is already over £2million.

The missing books at Tower Hamlets

Here’s a story you probably won’t see in East End Life, the council paid for newspaper from Tower Hamlets: The number of books which go missing from its libraries every year. The East London Advertiser asked that question under FOI: The answer was 10,000 books which hadn’t been returned to its libraries or Idea Stores (yes, you read that last bit correctly).

Time to FOI the development agencies?

They are soon to be scrapped in the form that we know them, so is now the time to FOI the regional development agencies? The Lancashire Telegraph did that, asking how many trips to the USA the NWDA had funded after finding out it had several bases over there.

The traffic light system to grade pubs

The Cambridge News reports on the most violent pubs and nightclubs in Cambridge after asking for a list of the venues rated ‘red’ in a traffic light system used by the police. There are five such bars. Do other forces do the same? I have no idea, but it’s a safe bet they have some sort of list of the most risky venues in an area.

Streets with most gun crime

The first of two from the Express and Star in Wolverhampton, which asked West Midlands Police for the list of the street where the most gun crime had been recorded in the towns it serves.

Taser!

And, perhaps the most timely FOI I’ve seen in a while – given what happened in Rothbury – the Express and Star used FOI to find out how often tasers were being used in the region – 70 times this year compared to just 8 in the whole of 2008.

Crime at railway stations

Wales On Sunday reports on the level of crime at railway stations across Wales. They are blighted by drug users, perverts and sex attackers.

The price of a motto

At a time of budget cuts, any public organisation giving itself a rebrand deserves an FOI to find out how much it cost. The Eastern Daily Press did that to find out much it cost police to change their motto – £10k.

Sex crimes on youngsters

A good example of using FOI to get data presented in a way which is useful to you, from the Evening Times in Glasgow. It sought details of the number of sex attacks on under 16s in its area – two a day!

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