FOI Friday: Nightstalker, OAP abuse, crime in villages and shredded letters

The nightstalker case

The conviction of Delroy Grant, the Nightstalker sex attacker who police failed to catch despite being given a golden opportunity to do so, has been headline news this week. The News Shopper in London took the opportunity to republish an invesitgation it conducted into the hunt for the Nightstalker prior to Grant’s arrest.

Reporter Linda Grant used FOI to ask how many suspects had been arrested or interviewed (none at the time), and had cost £102,000 to process 2,054 DNA samples. The Met, however, refused to tell the paper how many additional crimes they were attributing to the Night Stalker at the time. A good example of FOI to shed light on an active case.

Elderly abuse

We see a lot of FOIs relating to abuse of children, but the Evening Gazette in Teesside reports on cases of abuse to elderly people by council-employed carers. Abuse reports included financial abuse, verbal abuse and a case of medication error.

The village where no crimes are solved

The village of Hagley, near Bromsgrove, was scene of 30 vehicle crimes and 29 burglaries last year. None were solved. The figures were obtained using FOI and published by the Bromsgrove Advertiser – a clever use of FOI to get two sets of data which paint a very interesting picture.

Crimes committed in police stations

Police stations are proving to be fascinating places for FOI requests. Following on from break ins at police stations and thefts from police stations comes this one from the Bristol Evening Police: The 226 crimes committed inside police stations – over half of which were for criminal damage. A few arsons too. You can see a similar request from GetReading here.

The other things seized at court

Remember the FOI about the number of knives seized at court? The Gloucester Citizen follows a similar line, but chose to ask for a list of everything seized at court from visitors. As well as knives and blades, screwdrivers, CS sprays and darts were also seized, along with cameras and recorders

Attacks on traffic wardens

If ever there was one job which was likely to provoke abuse, it’s the role of traffic warden. And so it seems in Swansea, where the South Wales Evening Post reports on 73 reported attacks on traffic wardens, the worst of which involved knocking down a traffic warden and driving off.


Kidnapping is a crime which is quite rare, and therefore tends to make the headlines when it happens. In Cambridgeshire, the Evening News used FOI to find out how often kidnaps were reported, and what the motives were, and how long people were held for. The resulting article is a fascinating insight into some unusual crimes.

Fines for cyclists

THE number of cyclists in Wales fined for riding on the pavements has more than quadrupled since 2008. A total of 318 people were given £30 fixed penalty notices in 2010, compared to just 54 in 2008, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Royal Mail’s love of the shredder

The Royal Mail initially refused to reveal how many letters it destroys a year, on the grounds it would cause negative publicity, but later relented and revealed it shreds 25 million letters year.

And one to watch…

And here’s one to keep an eye on. Tory MP Robert Halfon has FOI’d 100 top universities to see how many of them have received donations from ‘Middle East sources’. First to be revealed this way is Durham University, which took £11,000 from Iran, and a total of £700,000 from the region.


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