FOI Friday: School places, child exploitation, serial criminals and council home waits

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How likely are you to get your child into a school? < Teesside Gazette

Hundreds of schoolchildren in Middlesbrough are missing out on a place at their school of preference.

Figures from a Freedom of Information request show that while places are in high demand, non of the town’s secondary schools were able to cater to every single applicant who requested a place at their school of choice.

Macmillan Academy, on Stockton Road, was by far the most popular school of choice, with 1030 applications for 220 places.

But, less than half the number of children, 44.4%, who put it down as their first choice, got to go to the academy.

Children at risk of sexual exploitation < Slough Observer

AT LEAST 28 children as young as 13 have been deemed at risk of sexual exploitation this year, The Observer can reveal.

The Observer submitted a freedom of information request asking Slough Borough Council how many children this year had been referred, or became known, to the council amid concerns that they are, or at some stage have been, at risk of sexual exploitation.

The youngest child referred was 13 years and nine months old. The figures also showed at least 23 children have been identified in previous years.

More details of the suspected exploitation could not be provided because it would have taken too long to search through records, the council said.

The 1,000 crimes committed by 50 criminals < Rossendale Free Press

Nearly 1,000 crimes have been committed by the top 50 worst in Rossendale, the Free Press can reveal.

The most habitual yob is a 37-year-old man from Bacup who has committed 87 offences – including 74 thefts from vehicles – and has been charged 20 times.

Also making the top 10 list of shame is a 19-year-old man from Rossendale who has already committed 40 offences including 18 thefts from vehicles and has been charged by police 13 times.

Campaigners and MPs have branded the figures ‘appalling’ and said the system of justice is ‘not working’, calling on the courts to impose harsher sentences for repeat offenders.

Figures released by Lancashire Police under a Freedom of Information request show that 972 offences have been committed in the Valley by the top 50 offenders.

Waiting a decade for a council home < Wrexham Leader

HUNDREDS of residents have been on the council house waiting lists for more than 10 years, according to figures.

The figures, uncovered after a Freedom of Information, showed that 130 people in Flintshire and 114 in Wrexham have been waiting for more than a decade.

The figures also revealed that 627 people in Flintshire and 175 in Wrexham had been waiting more than five years.

Fancy dress crimes committed on Halloween < Nottingham Post

ROWDY Jelly Babies, a thieving nun and an anti-social Santa have all been reported to police – and costumed criminals are out in force on Hallowe’en.

October 31 is the busiest night for complaints about people in fancy dress – with five of the 41 incidents since 2011 being clocked up on fright night.

The incidents also include an alien causing trouble at Trowell Services, off the M1, and reports of a gingerbread man and a panda causing criminal damage.

And Professor Mark Griffiths, a psychologist as Nottingham Trent University, said costumes could give people “an excuse to do something out of character”.

Things removed from patients < Sunday Sun

A broken bulb, scissors, a googly eye, a trolley token and polystyrene balls are just some of the items North medics removed from patients’ bodies.

A Sunday Sun investigation has revealed a host of unusual objects that have been dislodged from different parts of the body.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information request reveals that surgeons within the North Cumbria University Hospital trust removed a metal ball bearing, a midge, expanding foam and an electronic cigarette end, in the long list of items.

Incidents at libraries < Boston Target

Library staff have been forced to deal with paedophiles, threats of violence and people using the computers to look at porn, the Target can reveal.

Details of incident reports filled out by Boston’s librarians have been released to the Target under the Freedom of Information Act.

They show there have been 49 incidents in the last three financial years as well as two between April and August this year.

One of the most shocking incident was in February, when one library user reported that someone was using the library computers to groom young adults by email and on Facebook.

Police claiming compensation < Stoke Sentinel

POLICE officers injured on duty have claimed more than £130,000 in compensation – from their own force.

An investigation by The Sentinel has revealed bobbies, special constables and PCSOs at Staffordshire Police have successfully claimed cash for incidents ranging from slipping on ice to suffering hearing loss from a loud headset.

Police taking sick people to hospital < Teesdale Mercury

THE number of patients being taken to hospital by police officers because ambulances have not turned up is on the rise.
Durham Police logs reveal they are increasingly having to step in because of failures by the “crisis” hit North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
a freedom of information request has revealed that between April and December 2013 police had to transport 55 patients to hospital, while between January and July 2014 the figure was 87 people.
Since April taking patients to hospital has taken up 164 police hours, including 25 in September alone.

Sex offences in schools < Bath Chronicle

Children are just as likely as adults to commit sex offences in schools, according to information released by Avon and Somerset Police under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the past three years 93 sex offences, including rape and other serious sex offences, were committed in schools and reported to police in the Avon and Somerset area.

Thirty-one of the suspects were children, four fewer than the number of adults recorded as a suspect by police.

Eleven rapes and 56 serious sexual offences were among the offences recorded over the three-year period. Only nine adult victims were recorded.

Brothels reported to the police < Romford Recorder

Reports relating to as many as 18 brothels have been made to Havering Police in the past year, new figures show.

Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information (FoI) request reveal 51 reports referring to brothels in Havering were logged by police.

Are very old or very young drivers the safest? < Liverpool Echo

Liverpool has more than 300 motorists over 90-years-old – and they might just be the most careful drivers of all.

The oldest people to hold full licences in the city are two men, aged 103 and 102, figures obtained by the Sunday ECHO show.

A 97-year-old is the eldest woman in Liverpool to have a full licence.

Council evictions rise < East London Lines

Council tenant evictions have risen by 60 per cent in one year, a Freedom of Information request by the Hackney Green Party has revealed.

The request found 98 people were evicted from their homes between April 2013 and April 2014 due to rent arrears, compared to 61 the year before. Hackney Greens have blamed the Government’s Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap for the rise after finding that 108 evictions took place in 2013-14 compared with only 72 in 2012-13.

Charlotte George speaking for the Hackney Green Party said: “These welfare reforms are hitting the poorest and the most vulnerable in our communities. How the Government can say that they are ‘fair’ and ‘helping’ people is beyond me.”

Prisons become wheelchair friendly after rise in OAP convictions < Manchester Evening News

A rise in crimes committed by pensioners is forcing prisons to have wheelchairs, lifts and shower chairs installed for ageing inmates, the M.E.N. can reveal.

Greater Manchester Police has arrested 3,811 over-65s since January 2009 – the third-highest in the UK at an average of 70 a month, according to figures revealed under Freedom of Information laws.

The cost of bonfire night < Birmingham Mail

Chiefs at Birmingham City Council have been accused of sending taxpayers money “up in smoke” – after spending £40,000 on a fireworks display for Bonfire Night.

The authority, which is currently faced with making up to £150 million of unprecedented cuts from the 2015/16 budget, has blown tens of thousands pounds on fireworks for the celebrations at Pype Hayes Park tonight (November 5).

That works out at more than £83 of fireworks going off every minute – if the display lasts for the whole two hours of the event.

Mental health bed shortages < Kent Online

The county’s NHS mental health trust spent more than £5 million on private hospitals last year due to a shortage of beds for patients.

A Freedom of Information request shows 356 patients in Kent were placed into private care over just 12 months because beds could not be found.

The patients, detained under the Mental Health Act, were sent to “places of safety” up and down the country at a cost of £5,671,000 to the taxpayer.

Data breaches at councils < Sheffield Star

Confidential data has been lost, misplaced or leaked by Sheffield Council 22 times since February 2012, The Star can reveal today.

The information includes eight letters sent to the wrong address and a document which contained children’s names going missing.

In one breach, a spreadsheet naming 1,729 people who received payments from the council was published online.

Other lapses include a file containing financial information and staff payment details going missing and a paper notebook and diary which contained personal data being stolen from a vehicle.

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