FOIFRIDAYLOGO

FOI Friday: Unusual council waiting lists, a housing crisis, and the theft of a six-foot cardboard copper

1. Police officers disciplined for racism

Proof of the value of FOI disclosure logs – for journalists anyway. The BBC reports on seven police officers from West Mercia Police disciplined for racism. The BBC, which used the infamous ‘BBC has learnt’ in the intro, confirms later in the piece it found the information on West Mercia’s disclosure log.

2. Life-sized copper stolen from police station

I know the ‘things stolen from a police station’ FOI has been done a lot, but I wanted to include this one, simply because of what was stolen. According to the Bucks Free Press:

The catchphrase ‘you’re nicked’ has been spun on its head by daring thieves who pinched items including a life-size cut-out of a copper from police.

The six-foot tall cardboard crime deterrent was put under the long arm of a crook at a police station in the Wycombe LPA, information obtained by the Bucks Free Press reveals.

A truncheon and ‘five blue strobe flashing lights’, likely to be from a police car, were also nabbed from Wycombe police along with an item marked ‘other’.

3. Housing crisis worsens

Does your area have a housing crisis? It would appear Oxford does. The BBC reports on FOI data which revealed how much the council spent on emergency accommodation – putting people who found themselves homeless up in hotels and other accommodation. The amount has gone up four-fold in recent years.

4. Requests made under Sarah’s Law

Sarah’s Law is something most journalists will be familiar with – the News of the World-led campaign to allow parents to ask if someone who has regular access to superivising children has a sex offenders record. It came into force across the country last April and, according to the Bolton News, 67 separate requests in Greater Manchester have led to information being released.

5. Speeding motorists on motorways

A slightly different take on speeding motorists from Cambridge News, which used FOI to ask how many people had been caught speeding on motorways in the county, and what the top speed was. The number is going up – and the top speed was 112mph.

6. How much to get all roads into a good state of repair?

This story fascinates me. I’ve seen FOI requests before about how much councils spend on repairing roads, but never how much it would cost to repair all their roads. Yet it seems that councils do hold this information, as the Yorkshire Post reveals it would cost £700million to repair all of Yorkshire’s roads. As long as they keep the westbound carriageway of the M62 open…

7. Payouts for accidents in hospitals

I remember doing an FOI request years ago asking hospital trusts about compensation payouts. They all referred me to the NHS Litigation Authority, which deals with the figures and payouts. But the Wigan Evening Post appears to have had more luck, getting a full breakdown of compensation payouts. Some interesting lines here. Made for good SEO copy too on an injury compensation firm’s website – shame they couldn’t give a link back though.

8. The offences people are jailed for in your local prison

The Boston Standard caused a bit of a stir when it asked, under FOI, for a list of crimes which prisoners locked up at the local open prison had been jailed for – there appear to be quite a few murderers in there. Nice and simple, and an obvious question: What are people in my local jail locked up for?

9. Drug and alcohol school exclusions on the rise

A good example of a year-on-year FOI request from the Halifax Evening Courier, which reports a 35% increase in school exclusions due to drink and drugs.

10. A council waiting list with a difference

The Northampton Evening Chronicle reports on the fact more than 2,000 people are waiting to rend garages owned by the local council. I didn’t even know councils rented out garages!

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