FOI Friday: Post office closures, 653 ambulance visits to one house, the cost per fan of policing football and more…


Ambulance called to one house over 600 times in one year < Birmingham Mail

An MP is demanding tougher action against bogus 999 callers after shock figures revealed ambulance crews were sent to one Birmingham address 653 times in 12 months.

Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe plans to raise the issue in parliament after statistics showed 30 Midland addresses were responsible for almost 5,000 emergency calls last year.

The figures from West Midlands Ambulance Service show under-pressure paramedics were called out an average of 13 times a day to the homes.

In one case an address in the Shard End area of Birmingham was visited 653 times – an average of almost twice a day – in the last 12 months.

Post office closures by stealth? < ChroniceleLive

The Post Office today stands accused of cutting down its network “by stealth” as an investigation reveals 17 North East branches have been “temporarily closed” for more than a year.

A Freedom Of Information probe has uncovered huge gaps in the region’s Post Office service, with seven out of a total of 20 branches marked as ‘closed temporarily’, having actually been shut for more than five years.

The Communication Workers’ Union has branded the situation “ridiculous” and claimed Post Office chiefs are letting down communities in the region who rely on their local branch.

The cost per fan of policing football games < Yorkshire Post

West Yorkshire Police faced costs of nearly a quarter of a million pounds when policing Leeds United games at Elland Road last season, new data has revealed.

Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request show that the taxpayer was hit with a burden of £203,846.30 for policing home Leeds United matches over the course of the 2013/14 campaign.

Special Police Services, charged to Leeds United, added over £350,000 to the price, bringing the total to a huge £571,560.86 to police Elland Road during matchdays.

2,000 historic sexual abuse claims reported in North East < Newcastle Chronicle

Thousands of victims of sexual abuse have reported attacks from their childhood in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, The Chronicle can reveal.

In the years following the revelation that the late DJ Jimmy Savile was a serial sex predator, more than 2,000 people in the North East have shared their own stories of historic sexual abuse with police.

Many felt unable to report what happened to them at the time due to a fear of not being believed.

But while the recent scandal has encouraged them to finally come forward, it has also forced them to revisit long-buried feelings, according to Tyneside sexual abuse counsellors.

Reasons drivers keep their licences with more than 12 points < Sunday Mercury

A pensioner who clocked up enough points to get an automatic driving ban is STILL on Birmingham’s roads, sparking anger from safety campaigners.

The 77-year-old, whose identity has not been disclosed, is the oldest motorist in the city to get 12 points or more, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

All of his points are for breaking the speed limit, potentially putting lives at risk.

And an investigation into the city’s worst drivers shows that out of the twenty oldest to cross the threshold, NONE has been barred from the roads.

The list of shame includes one 57-year-old with an incredible 26 penalty points – almost all of them for having no insurance.

(Note: I particularly like this FOI because it has asked for the reasons points have been issued in the first place.)

Schoolgirls having multiple abortions < Daily Record

SCORES of schoolgirls in Scotland have had multiple abortions before the age of 16, shock figures revealed yesterday.

Statistics obtained under freedom of information found around 80 girls aged under 16 underwent more than one termination before reaching the age of consent over the past five years.

The true figure is likely to be even higher as some health boards – including, Greater Glasgow – were unable to provide statistics.

NHS Lothian recorded 77 cases while NHS Forth Valley said they had seen two.

Thousands of hospital meals thrown away – and how much each hospital spends on them < South Wales Evening Post

THOUSANDS of hospital meals are being thrown away untouched each year across South West Wales, new figures show.

A total of 275,260 untouched patient meals were disposed of across Wales, according to data uncovered by the Welsh Conservatives. The party claims this amounts to an annual cost of £839,544.

The data, released under Freedom of Information laws show that locally, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) health board spends £3.78 per patient per day. The Welsh Conservatives claim this equates to £198,195 in wasted meals each year.

Hywel Dda health board spends £3.42 per patient per day — equating to an annual cost of £122,534.30. AM Darren Millar, shadow health minister, said the waste was not affordable in the light of Welsh Government cuts to the NHS.

Councillors paying back benefit < The Cornish Guardian

A CORNWALL councillor has been forced to repay thousands of pounds in falsely-claimed housing and council tax benefit, the Cornish Guardian has learned.

The councillor, who has not been named, settled the debt without being taken to court. Housing benefit helps pay the rent of people on low incomes and council tax benefit (now called council tax support) is also payable to people on low incomes. Both benefits are administered by Cornwall Council. On average the council prosecutes about 100 people a year for benefit fraud. Last year fraudulent claims cost taxpayers nearly £500,000.

Clinical staff sacked for being incompetent < North West Evening Mail

HOSPITAL bosses in Cumbria have had to sack 12 clinical and patient-facing staff for incompetence in the last four years.

The tally includes junior doctors, registered nurses and clinical support workers at all three hospitals covering South Cumbria, including Barrow’s Furness General Hospital, Westmorland General in Kendal and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

The figures, unveiled thanks to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Evening Mail, show the bulk of the dismissals were made in 2012 when eight people had their employment terminated by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

Why police pull over cyclists < Gloucestershire Echo

Police have pulled over cyclists for being drunk in charge of a bicycle five times in five years, figures released by Gloucestershire Constabulary show.

And more than 50 riders have got in to trouble with the law for a lack of lights.

The figures were requested under the Freedom of Information Act, after we reported last year how a Dursley man downed 16 pints of lager and a bottle-and-a-half of spirits before riding along the wrong side of the road and hitting a car in Gloucester.

Eating disorder cases amongst young people rise < Nottingham Post

“AIRBRUSHED” celebrity role models are driving more young people to risk their lives in a bid to stay super-slim.

The number of young people in Nottinghamshire seeking help for eating disorders has rocketed and medics say it’s partly down to pressure on children to look like “impossibly” beautiful celebrities

Figures obtained by the Post show reveal that the number of under-18s attending the city’s hospitals with disorders like anorexia or bulimia has tripled since 2010.

Fire brigade call outs to obese people < Derby Telegraph

DERBYSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has been called out to 62 incidents over the past four years to assist obese people – costing the authority more than £5,000.

The incidents included a woman who was trapped and another who had collapsed. The service also assisted a person with a broken ankle and another with a broken pelvis.

Thirty-five of the call-outs were to assist the ambulance service.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Derby Telegraph revealed the authority responded to 16 calls in 2011-2012 and 15 incidents during 2012-2013.

How many prison warrants are issued for non-payment of council tax? < Teesside Gazette

A prison warrant for non-payment of council tax was issued only once in Teesside – despite more than £27m being owed to cash-strapped local authorities.

Teesside’s three councils – Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland – all saw a rise in the amount of court summons issued to households who did not pay council tax.

They also sent out more liability orders – a legal demand for payment – and instructed bailiffs to seize property more regularly in 2013/14 than in previous years.

But only Redcar and Cleveland issued a warrant for prison, to one household, for non-payment – whilst instructing a bailiff 6,431 times.

How councils are snooping on residents < Get WestLondon

Investigatory powers to spy on residents have been used by a west London council on nearly five times as many occasions as the average council.

Hammersmith and Fulham council has invoked the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) on 44 occasions over the last three financial years according to figures released to getwestlondon under the Freedom of Information Act.

Offences investigated using the powers range from illegally parking using a blue badge to subletting, fraud and drug dealing.

RIPA allows a council to monitor communications data (although not content), set up hidden cameras or employ undercover operatives for the purposes of combating crime.

The injuries and attacks reported by city council staff < Birmingham Mail

ONE Birmingham Council worker is attacked EVERY DAY while trying to help the public, shocking new figures reveal.

Figures obtained by the Birmingham Mail show that even school lollipop ladies and special needs school assistants have been targeted.

Staff have been bitten, punched, kicked, spat on and subjected to sexual harassment on a daily basis.

Statistics sourced under the Freedom of Information Act show that in the last 12 months there were 440 recorded attacks, some of them brutal.

Logged reports include wounds, cuts and concussion. There were also 22 cases of bruising, and eight of multiple injuries.

How long do you wait for a council house? < Kingston Guardian

More than 1,500 people in the borough have been waiting 10 years or longer to be assigned a council house, a freedom of information request by the Surrey Comet has revealed.

Kingston Council’s reponse to our request also shows that more than 2,100 people have been waiting for between five and 10 years for a home.

At the end of the last financial year, 7,390 people were on the authority’s housing waiting list – more than the number of homes available, which is about 4,000.

The authority and housing associations can house about 400 people per year.

Police call outs to hospitals < Sky News

There are calls for drunks and others who commit offences on NHS premises to be dealt with more severely after a Sky News investigation found the police are being called about crimes every 10 minutes.

Figures show officers deal with more than 60,000 crimes in hospitals across the UK every year – and the number has risen in the last 12 months.

The number of offences is so high that several police forces, including Greater Manchester and Lancashire, have started basing liaison officers at some of the busier A&E departments

Reasons people call 999 from a train < North West Evening Mail

A BOMB scare, luggage theft and harassment are among the crimes and major incidents that Furness Line passengers have endured, figures have revealed.

British Transport Police statistics show the extent of illegal and disruptive behaviour on trains travelling between Barrow and Lancaster from January 2012 to November 2014.

The figures, obtained via an Evening Mail Freedom of Information request, detail 993 major incidents, crimes or cases of anti-social behaviour, the equivalent to almost one a day.

Reasons for being banned from the library < Sunday Mercury

Three people have been banned from Birmingham’s flagship library – for being too SMELLY.

They have been barred from browsing the bookshelves in the £189 million landmarkfor having ‘personal hygiene issues’.

More seriously, two have been barred for indecent exposure, with another three excluded for aggressive behaviour towards staff.

The figures have been released to the Sunday Mercury under the Freedom of Information Act.

Moonlighting police officers < Liverpool Echo

Hundreds of working coppers on Merseyside are boosting their incomes by moonlighting through second jobs.

Police officers of all ranks, from PCs to chief inspectors and above, are earning extra income from non-police work.

Information about the second jobs of police officers was released by Merseyside Police in the force’s annual register of business interests.

As of September, almost 300 officers and 98 civilian staff had declared secondary incomes.

The register includes PC David Woods, who came under fire in October for a sideline business selling machetes, knives, replica guns and Nazi insignia.

Run-offs from cabs < Hereford Times

REPORTS of customers running from taxis without paying are now a weekly occurrence in Herefordshire, figures show.

In the last 12 months there have been 46 reports of “run-offs” from taxis in the county, according to the findings of a Freedom of Information request made to West Mercia Police by this paper.

Frequent fliers at hospitals < Manchester Evening News

A woman patient visited A&E more than a 100 times last year.

She is one of hundreds of patients across the country who made dozens of repeat visits to embattled hospital emergency units.

Figures obtained by the MEN under Freedom of Information laws show the woman had logged 116 visits to Wythenshawe Hospital by November 12 – an average of once every three days.


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