FOI Friday: Private detectives, bus lanes, stray dogs and mental health abscondees

Spending on private detectives

A different take on how councils snoop on people – how much one council spent on hiring private detectives. Answer: £100,000 at Carmarthenshire Council, reports the Swansea Evening Post.

Bus lane fines

Fed up of FOI requests about speeding tickets or parking fines? How about asking how many bus lane infringements have occurred, as reported by the Bucks Free Press.

Stray dogs put down

Rather sad figures from the Coventry Telegraph – they revealed, using FOI, that 10% of all stray dogs rounded up in the city get put down.

Patients walking out of mental health units

An FOI story here which is the result of an FOI by a local MP – correctly credited by the Leicester Mercury. Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan says her FOI research shows 40,000 mental health patients just walked out of units, with over 3,000 of those in Leicestershire.

Metal thefts across the UK

Sticking with an FOI requested by an MP, here’s one from Tom Watson, the West Bromwich MP perhaps better known for his work on phone hacking. Watson used FOI to ask local authorities across the country metal thefts they’d suffered, as part of a campaign for tougher laws on the matter.

Police officers who commit crimes and keep their jobs

Walesonline reports that Police officers in Wales have been convicted of a number of offences – with many holding on to their jobs. 23 are in North Wales 11 in South Wales and three in Dfed-Powys. Offences include ssault, criminal damage, cruelty to animals, drug possession, forgery, having no insurance, being drunk and disorderly, benefit fraud, obtaining property by deception, speeding, theft and having a dangerous dog.

Racism in school?

More than 1,000 racist incidents were reported in Leeds schools in the last year – down on the previous two years, but still a number which jumps out a bit. Racist incidents include physical assault, verbal abuse, threatening behaviour, graffiti, offensive literature, malicious phone calls and damage to property.

Things seized on our streets

Lots of stuff recently about items seized at courts or in schools, but what about a general look at the weapons seized by police on the streets? The North Wales Daily Post did just that – and found 478 items had been seized in the last year, up 64%.

Council tax write offs

We’ve seen a few stories in recent weeks about councillors not paying their council tax, but here’s a different take from the Lancashire Evening Post: The amount of unpaid tax being written off each year. In Preston, it’s £1.5million.

A place where traffic wardens are welcome (sort of)

Expect applications to become traffic wardens in Hinckley to go through the roof on the back of this story. In Hinckley, Leicestershire, cases of abuse against traffic wardens have fallen from 13 two years ago to just one this year. A place where traffic wardens are welcome? I suspect it’s more to do with the traffic wardens developing thicker skins through necessity.

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