Wolverhampton express and star

FOI Friday: Prisoner complaints, police redundancies, thefts from bars, dangerous dogs and ‘kebab crimes’

FOI ideas image: Yarn Deliveries

‘Kebab crimes’ in Scarborough < Scarborough News

There’s a saying that a pint and a fight are the ingredients to a great British night out, but an investigation has unearthed the shocking crimes committed in Scarborough’s pizza shops and curry houses by rowdy revellers after they’ve sank one too many.

Scarborough’s ‘kebab crimes’ include bloody beatings, callous charity box thefts and staff being racially abused.

And in one incident, a woman was attacked with a doner kebab.

Our probe found out that 19 crimes were committed in takeaways, restaurants and chippys over the past 12 months.
CCTV and a heavy late-night police presence have helped officers nab the majority of offenders, but North Yorkshire Police have now revealed details of the takeaway offenders still on the loose.


FOI Friday: Jollies in Cannes, guilty police, empty homes, naughty soldiers and road rage incidents

So does a trip to MIPIM pay off? < Brixton Buzz

£20,000 was taken by Lambeth Council from four property developers to help fund the trip to Cannes by four council employees. A Freedom of Information Request shows that although “conversations took place” at MIPIM World back in March, no actual deals were reached following the local authority jolly.

Which must have been disappointing for all involved…

MIPIM World is the international property fair for corporate developers. It is the Cannes Film Festival equivalent for folk who believe in gentrification. Lambeth Council wanted a piece of the action, but understandably felt slightly nervous about spending £20,000 of local authority money on a trip to the South of France.

Police found guilty of crimes in last five years < Belfast Live

Forty-six police officers in Northern Ireland have been found guilty of committing crimes in the past five years.

According to figures released to Belfast Live by PSNI, the law-keepers have turned lawbreakers by committing a variety of crimes including tampering with a motor vehicle and death by dangerous driving.


FOI Friday: Children at risk, data lost in the post, unsolved murders and the not-so-smart motorways

FOIFRIDAYLOGOCriminals avoid jail despite dozens of crimes < Get WestLondon

Criminals in London are escaping jail sentences for serious crimes, despite dozens of previous convictions for similar offences.

A burglar in London was not given a custodial sentence at a court appearance in June 2014, despite 33 previous burglary offences and 58 total previous convictions, making them the most prolific burglar in the region to avoid jail for an offence last year.

Another criminal who avoided jail for drug offences last year had 26 previous drug convictions, as part of a total 37 previous convictions, according to figures released following a Freedom of Information Act request to the Ministry of Justice.

The not-so-smart motorways < Wolverhampton Express and Star

The fourth lane of the M6 was shut to Midlands motorists on more than 70 days last year because of technology faults, it has emerged.

The extra lane opens up at busy times to ease congestion between junctions eight at West Bromwich and 10a at Essington.

But from January 1 to December 31 there were 74 days where it was out of action, ranging from up to nine hours to less than a minute.

The figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show there were 141 technology faults reported, with the most being in May.

Community service on the up  < Edinburgh Evening News

The number of community service orders dished out by courts in Edinburgh has doubled in the last two years, with crooks carrying out almost 84,000 hours of unpaid work last year alone – the equivalent of nine and a half years.

But official figures revealed almost half of all payback orders – handed out as an alternative to prison – are never completed, landing many offenders back in court if they fail to explain themselves.

Edinburgh City Council has spent more than £7 million in the last three years carrying out and supervising the orders, but a spokeswoman today insisted the majority of the cost – which is pumped into staffing and tools – would be covered by a government justice grant.

Figures obtained by the News through a Freedom of Information request show 839 unpaid work orders were handed out by city courts in 2014, compared to just 420 two years earlier.


FOI Friday: Nightmare roadwork roads, self service checkout crimes, cost of PFI and student disciplinary offences


The roads dug up more than 600 times in a year < Birmingham Mail

Road repairs in Birmingham are causing traffic chaos with some routes being dug up almost every day for the past FIVE years, the Birmingham Mail can reveal.

Workmen have had to carry out maintenance on Birmingham’s Broad Street three times a week since 2009. The entertainment district – known as the Golden Mile – has been dug up an astonishing 684 times.

Yet it is not the most repaired road in the city.

Crime caused by self-service checkouts < Sunderland Echo

FORGETFUL shoppers are turning other wise law-abiding citizens into criminals after it was revealed that cash-back worth £1,260 was stolen from self-service tills in Sunderland in the last three years.

Figures obtained by the Echo via a freedom of information request to Northumbria Police, show thefts are going up year-on-year in line with the increase of popularity of automated systems in supermarkets.

But police say many people do not realise that pocketing cash accidentally left behind at self-service checkouts is theft and will be treated as such. And those caught on CCTV can often find themselves appearing in newspapers and online as part of crime appeals.

Forty-seven thefts of cashback were reported between April 2011 and March this year within Sunderland Area Command, after being left at self-service tills. Thirteen thefts were recorded in 2011/12, increasing to 16, in 2012/13 and 18 in the last financial year.

Youngest fire-arm offenders < Cambridge Evening News

A boy aged just 11 is now the youngest person in Cambridgeshire to be arrested over a firearms offences, shock data has revealed.

Information released by the Cambridgeshire force has also uncovered the youngest children arrested over drugs and sex crimes.

The youngest children arrested over sex offences are two boys aged just 10 years old.

One boy was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman and another was arrested over the rape of another boy aged under 13 years old. Both were given a reprimand and no further action was taken.


FOI Friday: Most frequent ambulance callout addresses, affordable homes, benefits families moved hundreds of miles, and fire crews freeing kids from cars


52 visits to one address by ambulances … and just two patients taken to hospital < Dundee Telegraph

Ambulances were called out to a Dundee property a staggering 52 times in just ONE year it has been revealed.

And on just two of those occasions somebody was taken to hospital by paramedics.

The figures, from a Freedom of Information request, also showed crews spent 31 hours and 43 minutes going back and forward between the property between April 2013 and April 2014. In Arbroath, the Scottish Ambulance Service attended one single property 36 times, with only four of those occasions ending in someone being driven to hospital. The statistics don’t include nursing or care homes.

Numbers of affordable homes falling in the North East <  The Northern Echo

HOUSEBUILDING has collapsed in most of the region, The Northern Echo can reveal – despite Government claims of a “success story”.

The number of ‘affordable homes’ being built has fallen in 13 of 17 areas since the Coalition came to power, after housing programmes were axed.

And it has plunged sharply in many areas, including in Hartlepool (down 62.5 per cent), Middlesbrough (down 59.1 per cent) and Stockton-on-Tees (down 54.5 per cent).

Fire crews freeing children from cars once a week < Wolverhampton Express and Star


FOI Friday: Air gun attacks, stressed out students, pauper funerals and troubled families


Bedroom tax rent arrears < Wolverhampton Express and Star

Out of 3,803 Sandwell people affected by the removal of the Government’s spare room subsidy, 2,432 have now fallen into rent arrears.

But the Labour-led council has not yet evicted anyone for falling into arrears as a result of what has become widely known as the bedroom tax.

The numbers of people in arrears and affected by the policy were revealed under the Freedom of Information Act after a request by a member of the public.

Troubled families < Brighton Argus

Nearly 1,000 problem families have been identified in Brighton and Hove since the launch of a Government scheme nearly two years ago.

The Troubled Families programme was launched as part of a scheme to get children off the streets and to help families get back into work.

According to a Freedom of Information request, the city council has identified 963 “troubled families” in Brighton and Hove and has so far “turned around” 317 of these.

Prisoners in your area < Daily Post

More than a third of all North Wales prisoners are from a single county, latest figures reveal.

There are a total of 857 from the region behind bars at prisons in England and Wales – 308 of which originate  from Flintshire.

The county also has the third highest number in Wales  – beaten only by Cardiff and Swansea.

The next highest in North Wales is Gwynedd with 163 prisoners followed by Wrexham (129), Conwy (118), Denbighshire (90) and Anglesey (49).

The figures, based on data up to December 31 last year, have been released following a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice.


FOI Friday: Teachers causing concern, prisoners on Facebook, school place fraud and teenage career criminals


Teachers on the ‘concern list’ < Basildon Echo

ALMOST 170 teaching staff are on a council list showing there are concerns about their working in schools.

They are not barred from working, but schools will be aware of the list of concerns, compiled by Essex County Council.

A total of 23 teachers and 14 other school workers have been added to the list in the past five years due to allegations of a sexual nature, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Social networks in prison < Daily Record

PRISON bosses last year shut down 80 Facebook accounts run by inmates in Scotland.

The social networking pages were updated using smartphones smuggled into jails and have been used by convicts to taunt victims or contact fellow criminals.

Officials investigated 118 allegations in 2013 that prisoners were running accounts on Facebook from behind bars, freedom of information figures released yesterday revealed.

Caught defrauding the school selection process < Camden New Journal

FIVE children in Camden were removed from school or had offers of places withdrawn after their families were caught fiddling the state admissions system, the New Journal can reveal.

In a response to a Freedom of Information request, Camden Council confirmed it had conducted 11 investigations into potentially fraudulent school place applications between 2012 and 2013. It had opened only two similar probes over the previous two years.

A “fraudulent” application was defined as using a temporary address, using a family member’s address, faking religious observance or supplying false information on application forms.


The 12 days of Local Pressmasness 12: Great front pages

pressmanessAnd it was all going so well. 11 days, 11 numerically-themed pieces which look at different aspects of the regional and local press. And then I get to day 12 – it should be the easiest of the lot, 12 great front pages.

I didn’t want to do just 12 front pages I liked – I’d probably be biased towards titles I work with, which maybe I am in the list below anyway – because that would too subjective. Instead, I wanted to do 12 front pages which showed the regional Press off at its best, but which also told stories about the way the regional Press is going, or where it’s come from.

And so I end up with 20 (more if you include the others I’ve referenced here too). That’s the beauty of grammar I guess – I’ve just moved the colon in the headline a bit so it’s still correct – it is the 12th post, it’s just far more than 12 front pages.

I’ll try and explain the whole thinking of the 12 days of local Pressmasness tomorrow.


The 12 days of local Pressmasness: 6 criminal Grannies


If Christmas is all about giving, then it’s only right we celebrate the Freedom of Information request which keeps on giving – the one about old people and the crimes they first commit.

It’s a bit like The Snowman, or Only Fools and Horses – a repeat which can be guaranteed to turn up at Christmas, but remains compelling all the same.

I first read a story about criminal pensioners – revealed using FOI – in the Bristol Post back in 2009, and they’ve appeared almost everywhere since.

Criminal OAPs were served up as Christmas stories in several places this year.

In Gloucestershire, the Citizen reported that theft was the most common crime pensioners were arrested for, while the Hertfordshire Mercury reported pensioners cultivating cannabis and offending public decency.

As it’s Christmas, and Channel 4 seems to be full of nothing but best of compilation lists, here are six of the best OAPs uncovered thanks to FOI:


The 12 days of local Pressmasness: One ‘bostin’ Nativity

pressmanessThis idea might not work but I’ll give it a go – 12 blog posts celebrating the uniqueness of stuff regional and local newspapers and websites do over the festive period and, in some cases, across the year.

It’s meant to be light-hearted but with a serious message: We have some traditions which can be seen as peculiar but which are also loved by many readers, and reach the parts which other media often don’t, or can’t.

So lets  see how this goes – and start where it all began … Christmas that is, not the regional Press.