FOI FRIDAY: Clown crimes, daily A&E visitors, attacks on buses and pauper funerals

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Sexual exploitation within a police force < Birmingham Mail

Three West Midlands Police officers abused their position of authority by sexually exploiting underage children in the last two years.

The predators in uniform were sacked or resigned after being convicted at court for targeting a 15-year-old and two 14-year-olds.

Meanwhile, other officers from the force have been dismissed or disciplined for a range of offences or conduct relating to sexual exploitation of members of the public.

The shocking details were revealed after a Freedom of Information request by the Mail to the force.

The problem with clowns < Liverpool Echo

Disguised with colourful wigs and white face paint, the Echo today reveals how crooks dressed as clowns carried out bogus charity collections, vandalised property and even armed robbery.

Police on Merseyside dealt with 14 incidents involving people posing as clowns in the past two years – and most were no laughing matter.

One of the red-nosed crimes was caught on camera, when a robber dressed as a clown walked into a Walton shop in July to demand cash.

Attacks on buses < Cambridge News

sleeping girl was groped on a Cambridge school bus and is among victims of sex attacks and violent abuse while travelling on public transport.

Hair pulling, throat grabbing, torrents of verbal abuse, racist onslaughts using the ‘n-word’ and sex attacks have been reported to Cambridgeshire police after the incidents happened on buses in the county, new data has revealed.

There has been a total of just 21 such incidents reported to the force since 2012 but documents obtained by the News detailing what happened make for disturbing reading. And police have issued advice on what to do in a dangerous situation on a bus.

Visiting hospital every other day < Liverpool Echo

A 45-YEAR-OLD man went to A&E at the Royal Liverpool Hospital more than 150 times last year.

The patient racked up a total of 164 casualty attendances between January and December 4, according to records obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

This means he was attending A&E once every two days on average.

A second patient – an 84-year-old woman – visited A&E at the hospital 140 times over the same period, while a third patient – a 55-year-old man – clocked up 102 visits.

Hospitals penalised for financial problems < Hemsworth Gazette

Millions of pounds in funding is being withheld from the district’s hospitals because of government financial penalties.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust had £21.3m in government funding withheld from its budget in a two-and-a-half year period for admitting too many patients.

The trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, was hit with penalties of £9m in 2012-13, £8.7m the following year and £3.6m in the first six months of 2014-15.

Pauper funerals on the rise in Yorkshire < Sheffield Star

Doncaster Council has had to pay for more than 140 ‘paupers’ funerals’ in less than three years because there is either no-one willing or able to pay for the service.

The authority paid out for 50 funerals in 2012/13, 44 in 2013/14 and 47 so far this year – spending more than £130,000 providing the cremations and burials.

The town has held the highest number of ‘public health funerals’ in the whole of South Yorkshire, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed.

The number of potholes revealed < The Journal

A North council which last year said it had cleared its pothole problem now has over 6,500 to tackle, according to new figures.

Northumberland County Council’s Labour leaders pledged early last year to clear the authority’s backlog of potholes, and later claimed that it had achieved that task.

Figures provided by the authority now reveal that its current backlog stands at 6,600.

A council boss said Northumberland’s massive road network had suffered from long-term under-investment and bad weather, but that it has invested heavily in tackling potholes.

The disappearing hospital beds < Daily Post

Hospitals across the region have 400 fewer beds and more than 350 fewer nurses than five years ago.

Back in 2009/10 there was an average of 2,744 available beds but that figure had dropped by 439 to 2,305 in 2013/14.

And a Freedom of Information request to the health board shows that the number of nurses has dropped by 369 from 6,276 five years ago to 5,907 as of October last year, during which the amount of inpatient cases has risen by 6.7%.

Lookalikes taking driving tests < Yorkshire Post

WHEN you mention lookalikes, a celebrity double livening up a party or a politician’s vision in a comedy sketch may spring to mind.

But it seems rising numbers of learner drivers are relying on their lookalikes to cheat their way through their driving tests.

More than 670 impersonators were caught sitting theory and practical exams so far in 2014/15, more than a fifth higher than the previous financial year, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said.

The criminals targeting schools < Daily Post

Schools across North Wales have been targeted more than 700 times by thieves and thugs in the last three years.

Figures obtained by the Daily Post via a Freedom of Information request show that between April 2011 and September 2014, schools in the region reported 760 incidents of burglary, theft and criminal damage.

Flintshire schools were the most targeted across North Wales, with 227 incidents being reported during the three year period. Schools in Wrexham were the second most hit with 164 incidents while Denbighshire reported 88 incidents, Gwynedd 67, Conwy 45 and Anglesey 22. While the location of 147 reported incidents was unable to be determined.

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