FOI Friday: Babies missing from care homes, absent pupil fines, stalking laws and sexting complaints


Schools starting to make use of fines for absent pupils < Harrogate Advertiser

An investigation by the Advertiser series has found that nearly eight times more fines were issued in North Yorkshire, year on year, in the first quarter of the new rules.

Countywide, there were 95 fines issued from September to December, compared to 12 the previous year.

And for the Harrogate district there were 18 fines issued – compared to zero the previous year.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said: “From last September, schools have not been able by law to allow pupils to be absent from school during term time unless they receive an application in advance from a parent that the child lives with, and there are exceptional circumstances relating to the application. It is completely at the headteacher’s discretion to decide what are exceptional circumstances.”

Are the police making use of new stalking laws? < WalesOnline

The number of suspected stalkers detained by police in South Wales is “disappointing”, a leading charity has said.

The Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service said the nine arrests made by South Wales Police since stalking became a crime in November 2012 should be much higher.

The data, released under Freedom of Information laws, reveal that the force made seven arrests between April 2013 and March this year on suspicion of a stalking offence.

Since April, two people have been arrested.

Children investigated over sexting <

Children as young as 10 are being reported to police for sharing explicit photos of each other over mobile phones and social media, a BBC investigation has found.

Freedom of Information requests to secondary schools and police forces across Hampshire, Berkshire, Dorset, Sussex, Surrey and Wiltshire have revealed a sharp increase in incidents of “sexting” between underage pupils.

The investigation found teachers have begun referring many incidents to police and child safeguarding teams.

In some cases police have pressed charges for so-called sexting incidents involving minors.

Councils earning cash from selling on recycled waste < Lancashire Telegraph

EAST Lancashire councils received almost £500,000 by selling materials it had collected for recycling last year, it can be revealed.

Hyndburn, Rossendale, and Ribble Valley Councils collected a combined total of £481,078 in 2013, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

The money was used to off-set the cost of collection, documents show.

Over the last five years, Hyndburn Council has sold more than £1.12m worth of material.

Green energy investment that doesn’t add up < Hinckley Times

An eco-friendly wind turbine installed to save energy at a Hinckley college has been labelled a “disaster” after revelations it has expended more power than it has produced.

In its three year lifespan the 31.5ft turbine – thought to have a price tag of around £40,000 – has turned only 8% of the time and has not created electricity but used enough to run an energy hungry household for two years.

Hinckley retiree Dave Owen was emailed the startling statistics by college sustainability officer Serena Bacuzzi following a Freedom of Information Act request.

How police deal with hoax calls <

A Freedom of Information request has revealed there have been over 600 ‘hoax’ phone calls to North Wales Police since 2012.

In an FOI submitted by to North Wales Police, we requested information on the number of hoax / prank phone calls the force had received from January 1st 2012 to May 1st 2014.

Overall there have been 660 hoax phone calls during the above time frame. Of the 660 recorded calls, 117 arrests have been made in the past two years, resulting in three people being charged, one restorative resolution and one person reprimanded / youth case.

Within the FOI we requested a break down of figures across North Wales on a yearly basis, with 411 hoax phone calls recorded in 2012 and 188 in 2013.

Councils not returns ashes of babies of parents < BBC

Crematoria across the UK did not return the ashes of more than 1,000 babies to their parents over the past five years, according to BBC research.

Data released under Freedom of Information laws shows the return of baby ashes was routine in some parts of the country but not in others.

The revelations follow the publication of a report into the scandal at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh.

Babies’ ashes were buried or scattered there without the parents’ knowledge.

The BBC asked all 265 crematoria in the UK how they dealt with the cremation of still-born and very young babies up to six months old.

Council employees on zero-hour contracts < Surrey Mirror

SURREY County Council has defended its use of zero hour contracts after figures revealed more than 1,800 workers were employed under the controversial agreements.

Zero hour contracts have been widely criticised nationally as exploitative of workers.

Those on the contracts are not guaranteed set hours – and employers are not obliged to guarantee minimum hours – but employees are expected to be available for a “reasonable” number of shifts, sometimes at short notice.

According to figures obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, 1,812 non-school workers are currently employed on “zero hours” with the council.

Babies going missing from council care < Essex Chronicle

CHILDREN and babies went missing from county council care on nearly 2,000 occasions over two years, figures reveal.

There were 1,979 incidents of youngsters up to the age of 17 recorded as missing between January 2012 and December 2013. Two asylum seekers are still missing, while 11 of them were aged one or younger.

A spokesman said: “Essex County Council takes its responsibilities towards looked after children very seriously and that includes when children go missing.”

The figures were released following a nationwide Freedom of Information request.

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