FOI Friday: NHS bonuses, crimes solved by PCSOs, hidden emails and a caution for serious crimes

1. Donald Trump v the vandals

It’s golf dominating the news today so I’ll start with the Press and Journal in Aberdeen with a golf-related FOI. Donald Trump’s plans for a golf course there have upset many, and the P&J reports on the number of vandal attacks reported to police as a result of the project – presumably by protesters.

2. Hidden NHS emails

A fascinating FOI reported in the Portsmouth News involving a woman who asked for any emails written in relation to the death of her mother in hospital. Receiving one which included the reference ‘the fun starts here’ was a bit of  a shock. Perhaps encouraging more readers to use FOI could pay dividends?

3. The impact of housing benefit

The Lancashire Evening Post revealed a fascinating set of data when using FOI to ask for housing benefits payments in the city. Payments have risen £5million in the last year – a sign of the recession maybe? – with one in 12 people in the city getting payments.

4. Raping a teenager aged 13? That’ll be a caution

This FOI won’t be new to some, but the Coventry Telegraph’s results from asking Warwickshire Police to reveal the number of people let off with a caution, and for what, are quite startling.

5. Chasing up on big schemes to see how they fare

Public authorities like nothing more than making a big splash with a project – but the predictions they make are often far removed from the reality. Take this story from the London Evening Standard, which used FOI to find out the success of a £100,000 scheme to encourage people to switch from petrol to electric cars. The number of people who signed up? One.

6. How safe are our hospitals?

Hospitals are supposed to be safe places, but the Cambridge News points to 20 crimes a month being committed in hospitals in its areas, raising questions about security.

7. Gypsy costs

Gypsy camps often generate headlines because of the upset they can cause – but what are the costs to local authorities? In Birmingham, the Mail reports that the figure stands at £8k a month.

8. Council expenses

Sheffield Council recently announced thousands of it staff were to be re-employed on cheaper contracts to save money. So there was understandable anger when the Sheffield Star reported on how much the council spends on expenses for staff, including more than £500,000 for car parking, just under the same amount for hospitality and around about the same for attending conferences.

9. How many crimes do PCSOs solve?

A brilliant FOI from the Daily Echo in Southampton. How many crimes have been solved by Police Community Support Officers? They cost over £7m in Hampshire, and the answer is fewer than 50 crimes. Critics of this FOI will argue PCSOs aren’t there to solve crime – but what do the public want?

10. Bonuses in the NHS

550 staff in NHS Tees, the organisation which runs the PCTs in Teesside, are waiting to find out if they’ll keep their jobs. The Evening Gazette has revealed their bosses, or 15 of them, received £79k in bonuses last year.

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