10 good examples of FOI in action from the local, regional and national media:
Scotland has a different Freedom of Information Act, but this FOI is one which should work anywhere: The number of hospital appointments cancelled (by the hospital) both as a percentage of total hospital appointments and as a whole number. In the case of Ayrshire, it’s due to a computer malfunction, but it could work anywhere.
Of course, FOI stories from campaign groups always come with a health warning, but Big Brother Watch did publish its FOI request and methodology to show exactly where the data had come from. Its decision to name so many schools which had CCTV cameras resulted in coverage everywhere. So why include it here? Well, it didn’t publish details for every school, and didn’t go after primary schools either. And this story shows the value of making the time to approach schools individually, rather than just relying on local authorities.
This is just a personal opinion, but I think too many newspapers underplay the value of school places and schools data stories to readers. I would imagine (given my daughter is only 16 months old) that not getting a school place is very traumatic. Using FOI to understand the scale of school place rejections, therefore, seems like a very good idea.
A simply horrifying story from the Evening Standard – using FOI to find out how many children are in care, the number sent to care homes outside the area and where they are sent. This almost feels as though every newspaper should be doing this FOI. You can read the Manchester Evening News story here.
Good work from the Birmingham Mail looking at crimes committed by foreigners in the region over the past 12 months – arrests up 50% with some offences doubling in 12 months. Some might argue that this plays to a tabloid agenda – I’d disagree and say the Mail has uncovered a problem which deserved reporting.
Interesting data from the Cambridge News which reveals a significant rise in the number of shifts missed due to illness, with stress being the main cause. The pressures of cuts is being blamed.
Good stuff from the Western Mail, which reveals the amount councils are making from selling your data (if you live in Wales) on the electoral roll.
An interesting FOI at a time of particular hardship for many – how many school clothing grants local councils in Scotland issue, and the amount they are prepared to pay.
Fascinating stuff in the Bucks Free Press, which used FOI to find out about the growing use of Emergency Care Assistants rather than paramedics in ambulances in the county.
And finally – revealing the complaints received about student behaviour at universities in Oxford and Cambridge created a fair bit of fuss – I suspect it is an FOI which could run and run.
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FOI Friday is compiled using Google News and tip-offs sent to this blog or to me via Twitter @davidhiggerson