FOI Friday: Prisoner complaints, pensions invested in cluster bombs and crime on rich streets

1. The complaints made by prisoners < < < Manchester Evening News

Inmates at Strangeways have bombarded jail bosses with thousands of often trivial official complaints in the last 12 months – including grumbles about heating, outstanding DVD orders and the quality of the food.

Records of formal inmate grievances at HMP Manchester have shown how officers are being tied up dealing with petty inconveniences. A total of almost 3,500 formal complaints were processed by Strangeways in 12 months – an average of almost 10 every day.

Details, obtained by the M.E.N. under Freedom of Information laws, show how staff had to chase up a newsagent after an inmate complained he had not received a TV listing magazine.

2. Crimes on rich streets < < < Surrey Comet

Criminals have been targeting millionaires on the exclusive St George’s Hill Estate.

In the past six months there have been eight crimes, according to a Freedom of Information request made to Surrey Police, including a suspected shotgun robbery.

The crimes include one incident of criminal damage, one non-domestic burglary, two robberies, two thefts or handling of stolen goods, one vehicle crime and one crime of violence without injury.

3. The council pension fund investing in cluster bomb firm < < < Sunderland Echo

£9MILLION pounds of council pension funds has been invested in a company that produces cluster bomb components.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Durham County Council has invested pension contributions in General Dynamics Corp.
The US firm is an arms manufacturer that produces parts used in cluster bombs.

4. Police called 700 times to pubs and clubs in one year < < < Watford Observer

Police have been called out more than 700 times to pubs and clubs in Watford in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Drugs, violence, sexual offences, animal welfare issues and nuisance behaviour were among the incidents officers had to deal with at licensed premises in the 12 months since August 2010.

According to statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, police made the bulk of their visits to establishments in the town centre – specifically the two main clubs Oceana and Area.

5. Using FOI to find out PFI costs < < < Teesside Evening Gazette

A TEESSIDE NHS trust owes almost £1bn for a hospital over the next 30 years thanks to a private finance initiative (PFI).

The money is owed to private companies brought in to build and maintain facilities at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Figures released after a Gazette freedom of information request show that the Trust now owes £129.6m as a principal debt repayment, plus a further £147.7m in interest – which could rise even further with inflation.

THE number of people paying to use Bournemouth Council’s central car parks is slowly declining during the recession.

The number of tickets purchased has fallen from 2,018,293 to 1,970,168, over the last five financial years. There were drops in four of those years.

The Daily Echo asked for the figures using the Freedom of Information Act and they cover 24 car parks in the town centre and on its edge.

A HOSPITAL has admitted mistakes after its spending on translation services soared by 80% in just a year.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show Ipswich Hospital paid out £27,000 in 2010/11, up from £15,000 the previous year.

It is unclear why expenditure jumped so dramatically but the hospital conceded it was “probably not using all the translation services in the right way”.

Taxis for school children cost the taxpayer nearly £16 million a year.

The Argus can reveal the total figure includes one child being taken 700 yards – at a cost of £12 a trip.

Another is driven daily from their Sussex home to a special school more than 120 miles away.

A PARAMEDIC was kicked in the groin by a Bucks patient who had overdosed on alcohol and Temazepam, according to ambulance records.

The incident was one of 14 alleged assaults on Buckinghamshire paramedics last year, prompting South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) to raise concerns over the safety of its staff.

A paramedic said the woman became “very violent” in Stoke Mandeville when she was refused admission to hospital following the overdose.

Incapacitating spray has been used almost 500 times by police in Reading over the last two-and-a-half years, getreading has learned.

Officers in Reading use Captor spray to subdue suspects if they face violence or the threat of violence and have used it 486 times since April 2009.

Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act also showed officers have only been forced to use Tasers five times over the same period.

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