FOI Friday: 999 attacks, bin fines, obese babies and plastic surgery

Police hatArea-by-area crime rates – and how many are solved (Oxford Mail)

There’s been a lot of debate about how valuable, or otherwise, the police crime maps are. They tell you about crime a month later, aren’t that accurate when it comes to naming the location and won’t tell you if the crime has been solves.

The Oxford Mail has perhaps produced something of at least equal value with an FOI to Thames Valley Police asking for an area by area breakdown of crimes committed, and the percentage solved. Not surprisingly, perhaps, there’s quite a postcode lottery at play. I would imagine the key to getting a success with this FOI is to ask for the figures broken down by area the police recognise – eg a police beat or area.

Fines for leaving the bins out (South Wales Echo)

In a week when the weekly bin collection was dropped as a policy by the government in England, a timely story about fines for leaving your bins out if you live in Cardiff:

Hundreds of households have been fined by a council for leaving their wheelie bins and rubbish bags out on the wrong day, we can reveal.

Cardiff council issued £100 fines to 416 homes in the year between April 2010 and March 2011, a Freedom of Information request to the authority showed.

Noisy animals (Manchester Evening News)

According to the Manchester Evening News, town halls in Greater Manchester have received 2,000 complaints about noisy animals in the last year – including 100 about chickens.

Among the more offbeat noisy complaints was one about a vocal parrot in Bury.

Emergency Services abuse (South Wales Argus)

A good example of multiple FOI requests coming together for one story. The South Wales Argus reported on the number of times emergency services staff in Gwent had been attacked in the course of their work, with information coming from police, ambulance and the fire service.

Sex offender goes missing for seven years (Lancashire Evening Post)

I’m sure we’ve looked at FOIs asking for the number of criminals on the run and so on before now, but this example from the Lancashire Evening Post is worth a mention because of the information the paper received.

It was able to confirm that six convicted sex offenders had gone missing – including one who has been missing for seven years.

Millions of NHS money spent on plastic surgery (Wales on Sunday)

Wales On Sunday obtained details of the plastic surgery operations which had been carried out in Wales, which revealed 2,000 people went under the knife at a cost of £3million to the NHS. Doctors insist very few of the proceedures are carried out just for cosmetic purposes.

Treating children for obesity under the NHS (Sunday Telegraph)

The Sunday Telegraph got FOI responses back from 66 of the 168 acute hospital trusts to the question of how many children were being treated in hospital for weight-linked issues.

Figures show that hundreds of children under three are being treated for obesity at hospitals around the country. At least 40 babies aged under one have been admitted in the past five years.

The figures, which were released by 66 of Britain’s 168 acute hospital trusts under the Freedom of Information Act, show that more than 5,500 children under the age of 16 were diagnosed or treated for obesity in hospitals in the past five years.

Custard in the classroom part 2 (Yorkshire Post)

The other week, the Liverpool Echo splashed on an FOI into pupil compensation claims which revealed a £750 payout for a child splashed by custard. The child perhaps needs a better lawyer – the Yorkshire Post reports on a pupil in Rotherham who got £6,000 for being splattered with custard. I suspect this is an FOI which could run and run.

Racism in the classroom – (Evening Gazette – Middlesbrough)

Is racism a problem in the classroom? The Evening Gazette used FOI to report on 359 incidents of racism in classrooms across the area. In some cases, it was broken down by schools – a good example of data held by a local education authority.

Fines for truancy (Southport Visiter)

The Southport Visiter returned to one of New Labour’s pet announcements for an FOI request – asking how many parents had been fined for letting their children truant, and how much in fines were ordered by courts. Some 144 parents were fined a total of £14,145 in total.


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