FOI Friday: The cost of murder, shoplifting hotspots, firefighter complaints and the return of wrong fuel in cop cars

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The cost of Murder – Birmingham Mail

West Mercia Police spend fortune in bid to track down killers and see justice done

A Midland police force has spent more than £2.5 million on just FIVE murder investigations in the last five years.

The cases were the most expensive investigated by West Mercia Police, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Mercury.

The most money spent was £900,000 on bringing three Birmingham killers to justice for the brutal killing of a sub-postmaster in January 2009.

The investigation led to the successful prosecution of the killers of Craig Hodson-Walker, murdered during a botched armed raid.

Top of the shop … lifting hotspots < Manchester Evening News

Primark’s flagship Market Street store has topped a league of shame of Greater Manchester’s shoplifting hotspots.

The Manchester city centre shop called police more than three times a week to report shoplifting offences during 2013.

Figures released to the M.E.N by Greater Manchester Police under Freedom of Information laws detail the locations for more than 14,500 shoplifting offences last year.

Market Street – the city centre’s main shopping hub – was home to three of the region’s top four hotspots for police call-outs for reports of theft.

The crimes being committed on Facebook < Cambridge News

Facebook users have been reported by ‘friends’ to Cambridgeshire police for blackmail, child rape and grooming, as well as death threats.

Users of the social networking site have flagged up 169 possible crimes to officers since 2011.

They range from blackmail to bike theft and harassment to rape, data released by the force has showed.

Also on the Facebook crime list was harassment, intimidating or intending to instil fear in a witness to a crime, fraud, racial hatred, rape of children and threats to kill.

Spending on private ambulances due to lack of paramedics < Nottingham Post

PRIVATE companies and volunteers were paid £7 million last year to respond to 999 calls – because the ambulance service did not have enough staff.

The figure is more than twice as much as East Midlands Ambulance Service spent in the previous year and seven times higher than in 2010.

The news comes just a week after the Post revealed that the service’s own ambulances were being left unused for up to 12 hours, hundreds of times a month, because of a shortage of paramedics.

However, EMAS says it is currently recruiting more frontline staff and it expects to spend less on cover from outside bodies in coming years.

Complaints against fire officers < South Wales Evening Post

MORE than 100 complaints and disciplinary procedures have been made by fire officers against colleagues over the last five years — resulting in 10 workers being dismissed from their jobs.

The figures, revealed following a Freedom of Information of request, show that over that period the service held 56 disciplinary procedures with staff, and dealt with 49 grievance complaints.

Not a single grievance was found in favour of the person making the complaint.

However, as a result of disciplinary procedures following complaints, in addition to 10 workers being dismissed, 29 staff received written warnings, 11 verbal warnings, and six are on-going.

Dogs put down < Blackpool Gazette

Hundreds of dogs have been put down in Blackpool after council dog wardens could not reunite them with their owners.

Findings obtained by The Gazette through a Freedom of Information request found 234 animals were euthanised between 2008 and 2013 when their owners could not be traced.

The Blackpool Council numbers show 3,800 dogs were collected from the resort’s streets and 1,305 of them had to be re-homed.

Children strip-searched by the police < Guardian

Almost 5,000 children were strip-searched by the Metropolitan Police over a five-year period, it has emerged.

Some 4,638 children between the ages of ten and 16 were asked to remove their clothes before being searched by police between April 2008 and the end of 2013, with about a third released without charge.

The figures were obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

The reasons children are excluded from schools in Wales < WalesOnline

Children using weapons and drugs in school are among more than 13,000 pupils excluded from the classroom in Cardiff in just four years.

Youngsters responsible for violent attacks, bullying and theft were also banned from lessons, in some cases permanently, we can reveal today.

Students at the city’s primary and secondary schools were ejected from class for sexual and racial harassment as well as threatening, dangerous, abusive and disruptive behaviour, breaking school rules and damaging property.

In total, 13,029 children at schools in the city were excluded between September 2009 and July last year.

Cops put wrong fuel in cars < Birmingham Mail

Bungling cops from the West Midlands cost the taxpayer nearly £9,000 last year after they put the WRONG fuel into their police cars.

The force has revealed the price of repairing damaged diesel vehicles, and has announced that they have rolled out a sticker scheme to remind officers.

Police chiefs also conceded that the very low cost of repairs prior to 2013 – which were reported at just £90 in 2012 – was because of incorrect codes being submitted on repair invoices.

The force said the huge jump from £90 to £8,958 was because of the recording errors, which had now been rectified. Although pumping diesel into a petrol engine causes little damage, filling up a diesel engine with petrol can destroy the engine and can lead to bills of £5,000 or more.

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FOI Friday is made up of FOI stories which could work elsewhere, or which are of general interest to regional news journalists. If you’ve seen one worth sharing, please let me know below…

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