FOI FRIDAY: Prisoner DVDs, pot hole surprise, selling hospitals and policing the EDL

Wha't's that Nemo? Don't worry about the shark, you'll never guess who's watching us at HMP Durham?


The DVDs prisoners are allowed to watch (Sunday Sun)

An interesting thing to ask from the Sunday Sun: The catalogue of DVDs available for hire inside HMP Durham. The selection is both random – Finding Nemo anyone? – and perhaps worrying – more violent stuff is on the list too.

The cost of selling a hospital (Peterborough Evening Telegraph)

With selling off land and buildings one option for many public bodies suddenly short of cash, this FOI from the Evening Telegraph could be interesting. They used FOI to ask the Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust how much they had spent on consultants relating to the planned sale of the hospital site in Peterborough. The answer was £600,000 – before a buyer is even found.

The cost of policing the EDL (Lancashire Telegraph)

I get irritate by the fact journalists are constantly told to use FOI to find out how much the police spent on specific events. It should be quite easy to work out, why can’t press officers just find out? The Lancashire Telegraph turned to FOI to find out how much it had cost to police an English Defence League protest in Blackburn. The answer is £1.4million.

Discrimination payouts (London Evening Standard) 

The Evening Standard reports on £10million in payouts for cases brought against health trusts and councils in London for discrimination – age, sex, disability and so on. The £10million was made up of out-of-court settlements. This could be a gift that gives all over the country.

The expenses of university top brass (Western Mail) 

The Western Mail is the latest paper to put FOIs to universities to good effect, getting details of the credit card and expenses claims from uni top brass:

Senior staff at universities in Wales have run up credit card and expenses bills of more than £182,000 in two years, claiming for chauffeur services, luxurious hotels and meals.

The vice-chancellor of Glamorgan University spent £3,037 on chauffeur services.

A former deputy vice-chancellor at Newport University charged £239.96 in expenses to a credit card – spent on bean bag website Bean Bag Bazaar.

Pay rises at colleges (Yorkshire Evening Post) 

Redundancies at further education colleges have become quite common in recent months as bosses look to balance the books. The Yorkshire Evening Post gave some added context to redundancies in Leeds by using FOI to find out how the salaries of vice principles have changed. They’ve gone up 18% since 2010.

Attacks on speed cameras (BBC)

Police forces have often used attacks on speed cameras as a reason for not revealing data about specific cameras. So this FOI makes interesting reading on the BBC Website – the number of speed cameras attacked in Wales.

Library fines (Bracknell Standard) 

Ok, so we’ve seem the library fines FOI before, but I wanted to mention this one because it also broke down how much was owed by members at each library, making for an entertaining ‘which area is worst’ article.

Getting tough on pot holes (Birmingham Mail) 

The Birmingham Mail used FOI to find out how many claims for damages to cars caused by pot holes Birmingham City Council had received, and how much had been paid out. It turns out the real story was the number of complaints the council was rejecting, using little-known laws to do so.

And finally…. A gift which keeps on giving (Sunday Sun and others) 

The DVLA must be dead chuffed someone asked them for details of the number of drivers in their area who have more than 12 points on their licence. It is a gift which keeps on giving – as this story in the Sunday Sun proves. It’s cropping up all over the place.


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