FOI Friday (On a Tuesday?): Knives in court, World Cup bid costs and councillor pay rises

I didn’t get round to writing this on Friday – so it’s late. But hopefully, still worthwhile…

1. Seized at the court doors

Where’s the one place you might not expect crime to be committed? We’ve already established that police stations are prone to crime, but what about courts? The Lancashire Evening Post used FOI to find out how many knives were found on people going into courts in Lancashire – more than 200.

2. Things that go bump in the night

The Cambridge News reports on an FOI request which reveals the number of reports made to the police about ghostly sightings. Twelve reports have been made in the last two years, with details of each case reported.

3. Cost of the World Cup bid to councils

With the World Cup bid now little more than a wrecked dream, the Birmingham Mail has been quick to find out how much it cost local councils, given that Birmingham was battling to be a host city. Birmingham spent £350,000 – news which will no doubt cheer the 7,000 council staff currently facing the axe.

4. Postcode lottery at university

A widely reported FOI result last week was the postcode lottery around where students who make it to Oxford or Cambridge come from. The raw numbers are illuminating, but comparing them per head of population would perhaps show a different picture.

5. The cost of a bashed door

Pictures of police officers bashing down doors during raids make for great pictures, but it seems to come at a cost for police as well. According to the Northants Evening Telegraph, £15,000 was spent paying for doors knocked down during failed raids – with almost half of raids being classed as failures.

6. Councillor pay rises

It’s hard to get through a day without a councillor appearing on TV to bemoan the cuts coming from Government. And quite right too – someone needs to fight for councils. But it’s worth checking out what is happening with councillor allowances at the moment. The Evening Standard did that and found some big increases in London.

7. Cost of cancelled projects

The Government has been quick to scrap projects to save money, but the hidden cost to councils is still emerging. Take Kent for example, which had various Building School for the Future projects cancelled. The Kent Messenger reports on the millions spent on getting the projects going – money which is now gone for good.

8. The cost of dressing the jobless

A good example of returning to a government project to see where it’s at now comes from the Express and Star in Wolverhampton. The paper reported last year on a government scheme to give jobless people up to £300 to buy clothes for interviews. They spent £1million last year – this year the figures is nearly £3million.

9. Stolen crumpets

A different twist on crimes committed against the police – this time from the Hull Daily Mail. It asked for a list of all items stolen from the police force or officers. The list is long and detailed, and includes crumpets and trousers.

10. Missed council tax

And ending where we began this week – at the Lancashire Evening Post. It reports on the number of people taken to court for non-payment of council tax. A four-year total is presented – perhaps a year by year breakdown would also reveal the impact the recession has had.


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FOI Friday is compiled using suggestions sent to me via this blog and by searching ‘freedom of information’ on a Google News search of UK news sources

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