FOI Friday: Tasered animals, council zero hour contracts, overpaid NHS staff and missing library books

Back from a summer break to make even an MP envious, here’s the return of FOI Friday. Thanks to several students on the PA Training course in Newcastle for giving me a nudge by saying they enjoyed it…


1. Tasered animals < Lancashire Evening Post

Police officers had to use tasers on animals on 13 separate occasions across the county between 2010 and 2012, figures reveal.

The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request to Lancashire Constabulary.

They show that in 2010 tasers were used on animals five times, a further six times in 2011 and twice in 2012.

2. Football hooliganism back < Manchester Evening News

A shock dossier compiled by the M.E.N. reveals that the menace of football hooliganism is far from extinct.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show police had to deal with a catalogue of booze-fuelled hooliganism at United and City games last season

3. Nurses not trusted to work without supervision < The Scotsman

MORE than a quarter of Scottish nurses placed under supervision as they cannot be trusted to be left alone are working in Lothian hospital wards, new figures have revealed.

Despite being fully qualified, there are 27 nurses in the region whose performances have been deemed so poor that bosses have had to arrange for more senior staff to watch over them.

The data, revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that seven of the staff members in “management of employee capability” programmes were working in the Royal Infirmary, the region’s main acute hospital.

4. 16,000 ambulance hours lost at hospitals < Daily Post

Ambulances spent more than 16,000 hours waiting outside North Wales’ three main hospitals during the last three years because they were unable to hand over ill patients.

A combination of bed-blocking – when patients  can’t be transferred from the general hospitals in Bangor, Bodelwyddan or Wrexham because of bed shortages elsewhere – and an increase in the number of people attending A&E meant they had difficulty admitting new patients during busy periods.

The longest wait for any individual 999 crew while tending an ill person in their ambulance was more than seven hours, North Wales Conservative AM  Antoinette Sandbach has discovered.

“What a waste of time for these highly-trained staff, and what a waste of our money,” said Ms Sandbach, who is now calling for Welsh  hospitals and health boards  to face financial penalties if ambulances are forced to wait outside casualty units, similar to those levied in England.

A Freedom of Information request to the Welsh Ambulance Service showed that, since January 2010, its crews waited 40,340 times outside Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan, Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor and Wrexham Maelor. The figures relate to waits of more than 20 minutes at the three hospitals. Waits at hospitals without hand-over desks were not recorded said WAST.

5. 9,000 bins missed in just four months < Hull Daily Mail

ALMOST 9,000 missed bin collections have been reported by households in Hull in just four months.

The figure for the period between April and July has been revealed in a Freedom of Information (FoI) response by Hull City Council.

6. Musical police forces < Oxford Mail

Thames Valley Police has spent more than £110,000 on allowing staff and officers to listen to music while at work and for ceremonies over the past three years.

A Freedom of Information request revealed the figure the force had paid to PRS for Music from 2010 to 2013.

The PRS – formerly the Performing Rights Society – collects royalties for composers, songwriters and publishers and gives licences for music to be played in public places.

7. Council workers on zero-hour contracts < Express and Echo

LABOUR councillors have said they are “shocked” at revelations that Devon County Council has almost 200 staff working on zero hours contracts.

The authority’s use of the controversial contracts means employees are not given fixed hours for working but are used as and when needed.

The Labour group now plans to put down a formal motion at the next full council meeting in an attempt to ban the “nil hour” contracts.

 8. Gay adoptions on the up < York Press

A GROWING number of adoptions in York are by gay or lesbian couples, new figures have revealed.

City of York Council data, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, shows that so far this year, 12.5 per cent of overall applications for adoption have been from gay/lesbian or transgender couples or individuals, and all applicants have been successful.

The figure is up from nine per cent last year and there were no such adoptions in 2009.

9. Hospital staff overpaid by £110,000 < East Anglian Daily Times

Staff at a Suffolk hospital have been overpaid by more than £110,000 over the last three years, new figures have revealed.

In all, 173 workers have been handed inflated wages at West Suffolk Hospital between 2010 and 2013.

Trust bosses last night said they would pursue every penny that has been overpaid, either recovering cash through the payroll or through debt collection.

Although the number of people overpaid in 2012 to 2013 fell to 54 from 77, the total overpayment leapt from £38,774 to £48,17

10. The missing library books < < < Bexley Times

A comic book fan has been enjoying a book on crime fighting superhero Batman for more than seven years.

Batman: The Animated Series Guide was issued by community services in May 2006, making it the most overdue book in Bexley.

In the same year, My Little Shimmery Glittery Playtime Book was taken out of Sidcup Library, Hadlow Road, Monster Mania was issued and someone borrowed Going Swimming and Spot Goes to the Farm from Thamesmead Library, in Binsey Walk.

They are among 27,204 books currently overdue from libraries across the borough, with a whopping £19,180 fines unpaid in the last year alone.

More than £70,500 was paid by dutiful library users for overdue books in the year.

If the books were returned, the forgetful readers would owe a maximum £15 per item as charges are capped.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Times.


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