FOI Friday: Convicted cops, Nick Clegg’s school dinner nightmare, family court battles and ambulance waiting times rising


Legal aid cuts forcing people to represent themselves in courts < The Journal

Legal aid cuts have led to an alarming number of people having to represent themselves in family courts in the North East.

The proportion of unrepresented North East parents attending court to contest custody of their children and other family matters has leapt from 34% to 53% of litigants since the removal of legal aid from family lawyers in April 2013.

Between April and December 2012, 4,698 people represented themselves at North East courts for child-related proceedings.

In the same nine-month period for 2013, the figure jumped to 7,562. This is a year-on-year rise of 61%; the highest in England and already more than the previous year’s total of 6,502.

Schools not ready for Nick Clegg’s free school meals for all infants scheme < Birmingham Post

Almost half of city council-controlled infant and primary schools are not yet ready to provide free meals to pupils – as the Government’s national scheme is revealed to be at risk of failure.

Details revealed in a Freedom of Information request show that 74 maintained schools across Birmingham need investment to improve or expand kitchens and dining areas, while 101 schools said they had adequate facilities or did not respond to the request.

From September, every child in reception, year one and year two in state-funded schools will receive a free hot lunch, in a government scheme which aims to improve academic achievement and save families money.

Cops convicted of crimes still on duty < Lancashire Evening Post

Police officers convicted of dangerous driving, a hit and run and public order offences are on duty in the county.

Figures revealed under Freedom of Information laws show 20 serving officers working for Lancashire Constabulary have a criminal record.

Of those seven were convicted and 13 were given a caution.

The majority are for motoring offences, including three for driving without due care and attention.

Ambulance waiting times rise < Maldon and Burnham Standard

Shocking statistics have revealed ambulance waiting times for the district’s most serious casualties have almost tripled.

A Freedom of Information request by the Standard showed that the average response time of an ambulance, or transportable resource, to a life-threatening or severe injury or condition in the Maldon district has risen from eight minutes in January 2013 to 23 minutes in March 2014.

The average response time peaked at 32 minutes in March 2013.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust’s target for calls that deal with life-threatening incidents, such as cardiac arrests or trauma injuries, is eight minutes.

The police investigations costing lots of money < Edinburgh Evening News

THE machine gun killing of a man in an Edinburgh street, and the Mikaeel Kular hunt are the most expensive investigations undertaken by the new Scottish police force.

The shocking killing saw 25-year-old Mohammed Abdi gunned down by rival Somalian drug dealers following a late night car chase.

Mohamud Mohamud, 30, Cadil Huseen, 23, and Hussein Ali, 26, are are facing life sentences later this month after admitting to the murder.

Now Police Scotland have revealed that the complex probe into the shooting cost £323,486.

Det Ch Supt Gary Flannigan, of the Specialist Crime Division, said the investigation which took place into the murder last May had used telephone records, CCTV footage, forensic science and eye-witness testimony to trace those suspected of the crime.

The figure, revealed under freedom of information legislation, includes police overtime costs but not normal duty spending.

Three police officers sacked for racism in just one area < Newham Recorder

Institutional racism is a “continuing problem” within the Newham police force, according to the director of an anti-racist organisation.

Estelle du Boulay’s claim comes as the Recorder can exclusively reveal that three Newham police officers were dismissed for racism last year.

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows that the dismissals, which occured on separate occasions, included an officer who was reported by colleagues for making racist comments while on patrol in a marked police vehicle, and another who called a member of the public a racist name.

The third officer was reported by colleagues for referring to a group of Asian men by a racist term while off-duty.

Funding to maintain football pitches falls < Sky Sports News 

Annual grassroots funding for football facility maintenance by UK local councils is down by almost £1million in 2013 compared with 2007, a Sky Sports News investigation can reveal.

Sky Sports News sent Freedom of Information requests to 417 councils across the UK, asking them for their annual spending on football pitch and facility maintenance in 2007, 2012 and 2013.

Using the results from the 294 councils who responded, we can reveal a decrease in total spending on facilities across UK councils from £5,900,757 in 2007 to £4,916,072 in 2013. This is a decrease of £984,684 or a 17% reduction.

Things being stolen from police stations < Portsmouth News

BIKES, trainers, a plastic bucket, scrap cables and eight Nurofen tablets.

Those are just some of the items that have been reported stolen from police stations across the area.

The information was released after The News put in a Freedom of Information request to Hampshire police.

Between 2012 and 2014 there were 11 reported thefts from Portsmouth Central, Gosport and Fareham police stations – both inside and from car parks.

Bikes proved to be the item stolen the most from stations, with four taken over the period. One worth £100 was stolen from the car park at Gosport station in 2012 and another worth £800 was taken from the same place in 2013.

Cyclists demanding compensation after pot hole injuries < Surrey Comet

Seven cyclists have demanded compensation from Kingston Council after suffering injuries they believe were sustained on pothole-damaged roads – but only one has been successful.

The authority doled out £700 in damages to a cyclist injured in an accident in Grafton Road, New Malden, on October 4 last year.

Between 2012 and April 2014 six other cyclist have come forward with injury claims but ended up empty-handed.

The figures were revealed through a freedom of information request by the Surrey Comet asking about damage claims from cyclists between January 2012 and April 25, 2014.


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