FOI Friday: Begging arrests, restorative justice and the many languages spoken in schools


Rise in arrests for begging < London Evening Standard

A homeless charity says an increase of almost 90 per cent in arrests in London for begging is allowing more drug addicts to get treatment.

Statistics released by the Metropolitan Police under the Freedom of Information Act show 730 people were arrested on the city’s streets for begging in 2013/14, up from 385 in 2011/12.

The increase has coincided with  targeted police campaigns in central London over begging, including  moving on and arresting eastern  European rough sleepers.

Animals stolen in South Cumbria < Barrow Evening Mail

TWO lemurs, three turtles and a chicken are just some of the hundreds of animals and pets stolen in Barrow, Ulverston and Millom over the last three years.

 The majority of the 274 animals taken between 2011 and 2014 were sheep, according to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Evening Mail.
The spate of animal thefts has varied hugely in South Cumbria over the past three years, with 184 animals stolen in 2012/13 compared to just seven in 2013/14. In 2011/12, the figure was 83.

Does restorative justice work? <GetReading

Four fifths of all offenders given restorative disposals have not gone on to commit another crime, according to police figures.

The figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show since they came into action in 2009 until the end of 2013, 1,121 offenders in Bracknell have been given a restorative disposals, with only 256 (23 per cent) going on to reoffend.

Chief Inspector Dave Gilbert, Bracknell commander, said the number of people committing a crime after receiving either an Adult Restorative Disposal (ARD) or a Youth Restorative Disposal (YRD) was “encouraging”.

The guns removed from the streets of Liverpool < Liverpool Echo

An arsenal of 270 guns were taken off Merseyside streets last year.

Today the ECHO can reveal that police recovered 270 firearms in 2013, including six sub-machine guns from the clutches of criminals.

The cache also included 81 shotguns, 28 rifles and 36 handguns, according to a Freedom of Information request.

At least seven of the weapons had been reactivated and 133 were suspected to have been used in crime.

Driving test postcode lottery? < Birmingham Mail

Learner drivers taking their first practical driving test at the Shirley test centre are more likely to pass than those attending the Kingstanding centre, figures have revealed.

But Kingstanding had the highest percentage of people taking the test for the first time to score perfect passes in Birmingham, according to data revealed by the Driving Standards Agency.

Shirley, which is considered as one of six Birmingham test centres by the DSA, saw 46.9% of drivers taking their test for the first time in 2012-13 pass.

Witches, ghosts and zombies in the Midlands < BBC

More than 70 reports of zombies, witches and ghosts have been made to West Midlands Police over the past three years.

Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show the force was contacted about 15 ghosts, 55 witches, and a pair of zombies.

Birmingham East had the most reported paranormal activity, with the least in Birmingham South.

130 languages spoken in schools < East Anglian Daily Press

Macedonian, Kurdish, and Igbo are among the languages spoken by pupils at primary and secondary schools in the county, but the most common languages other than English are Polish, Portuguese and Lithuanian.

Altogether 6,325 pupils out of a total of 97,000 do not use English as a first language. 2,965 of those are in Ipswich, which is the most linguistically diverse borough in the county.

Education chiefs insist the large numbers of pupils for whom English is not their native tongue doesn’t affect the quality of education on offer, provided it is managed correctly.

The most dug up road in London? < London Evening Standard

Workmen have shattered the sleep of residents by digging up a London road hundreds of times in the dead of night.

Transport for London revealed that contractors dug up Warwick Road, next to Earl’s Court, nearly 500 times in the past five years.

Companies undertaking the works, all of which were marked “emergency” or “urgent”, included TfL, Thames Water, UK Power Networks and National Grid Gas.

Works ranged from fixing water leaks to repairing a gas escape and from excavating a “dangerous pothole” to making safe a “trip hazard”, according to a Freedom of Information Act response.

£12m bill for hospital locums < Lancashire Evening Post

Hospital bosses shelled out more than £12m in the past two years on 251 locum doctors and consultants.

Figures revealed under Freedom of Information laws show that in 2012/13 Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust spent £5.8m with locum agencies to temporarily fill posts.

And in 2013/14 the Trust, which runs the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, spent £6.8m.

Drinking in pregnancy < Teesside Evening Gazette

Four pregnant women in Teesside told midwives they have drank the equivalent of more than a bottle of vodka a week.

Although government guidelines warn pregnant women against drinking more than four units a week – the equivalent of two glasses of wine – James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough have recorded expectant mums drinking significantly more.

In the last three years, four women cared for by midwives at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough admitted to drinking more than 34 units of alcohol per week – the equivalent of 16 points of beer or more than a bottle of vodka – every week during their pregnancy.

The figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, show that 91 women said they drank at least one unit of alcohol every day – despite local midwives recommending that expectant mums drink no alcohol at all.

Number of children put under care orders rises < Blackpool Gazette

The number of children taken into care in Blackpool has gone up sharply over the last two years, new figures show.

The number of interim care orders issued in the resort rose by 43 per cent between 2011 and 2013 – up to 134.

But youth workers say Blackpool Council is “getting to grips” with the problems in the resort and the rise highlights the work put in to tackle long-standing issues.

The figures, released by Blackpool Council following a Freedom of Information request, show the number of cases that progressed to a full care order has stayed fairly constant in recent years. There were 37 full care orders issued last year, 39 in 2012 and 35 in 2011.

Fines for driving with dodgy lights on the rise < Cambridge News

t’s not just cyclists who risk the dangers of travelling under a cloak of darkness in Cambridge.

Today the News can reveal the number of ‘rouge’ motorists fined in Cambridgeshire for driving with defective lights has more than doubled in five years.

From April 2013 to March this year, traffic police have fined 119 drivers for a range of defective lighting which can put other road users at risk.

That number rose compared to the same period in 2008/9 when 44 motorists were given fixed penalty notices.

But the figures contract with the number of cyclists in Cambridge who have been caught riding without lights.

A total of 1,000 cyclists riding without lights were stopped by police in Cambridge over a few months last year with 85 per cent voided under the Lights Instead of Tickets (LIT) initiative, meaning about 850 cyclists now have lights as a direct result of the campaign.

Reasons council staff are suspended < Portsmouth News

Nearly 40 council workers have been suspended over allegations of fighting, substance misuse, theft, racism and fraud.

In one incident an officer at Havant Borough Council hit an employee in a dispute over a hat – another used a racist term.


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