The Associated Press published today an extensive report on the efficiency of Freedom of Information legislation in the countries that have passed the Act.
AP has put FoIA to the test around the world and discovered that although 105 governments have freedom of information legislation in place, only half of them actually abide by their own laws. The report states: “Most countries did not provide us with any of the information we asked for. Three out of 10 requests were completely ignored.”
AP also published documents about the methodology they used, including copies of requests and spreadsheets.
The report also discusses Tony Blair’s now famous U-turn on FoIA in the UK. Before his election, Blair was a great advocate of the people’s right to know but changed his mind while in power. In 2005 the former Prime Minister wrote of his decision to install the act: “You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop”, adding, “You can’t run government without being able to have confidential discussions with people on issues that are of profound importance”.
After its implementation in 2005, the Freedom of Information Act has been used to uncover a series of documents that have embarrassed Blair and given the public insight into his affairs. These include the redrafts of a dossier supporting his government’s case for the invasion of Iraq, frequent phone calls with Rupert Murdoch and personal correspondence sent to George Bush.
FoIA appears healthy in the UK today. The number of requests made in the UK is increasing year on year, with nearly 44,000 requests made last year and 60% of those responded to with disclosures.
Almost half of BBC’s personnel are called ‘managers’
Almost half of the job positions at BBC have the word manager in their title, is has emerged today. The Daily Mail reports that in a time the broadcaster faces massive cuts, of the 4,420 jobs that exist, 1,894 include the word manager. The newspaper also mentions that it is thought there is more staff that is classed and paid as managers, even without having the above title.
Scottish police force spends £4m on murder investigation
A Freedom of Information investigation conducted by The Herald has revealed Strathclyde Police’s 10 most expensive murder investigations. The newspaper reports Scotland’s biggest force police has spent £4m in Emma Caldwell’s murder.
10-year-olds subject to criminal record checks
Children as young as ten, are subject to criminals records checks when applying for volunteering, The Daily Mail reports. Data released after FoIA requests reveal in 2010, there were 259,540 applications for Criminal Records Bureau checks on young people aged 18 and under, with 74,559 on those aged 16 and under. In the first ten months of this year, there were nearly 60,000 applications for CRB checks on children aged 16 and under.
Less stop and search operations by Wales’ police over the past three years
FoIA requests have revealed stop and searches by Wales’ largest police force have fallen by more than 30 per cent, The Western Mail reports. The newspaper also points out that while data relating to stop and searches in 2009-2010 indicate more than a quarter of people searched by UK forces belong to ethnic minorities, in South Wales the figure is much lower, approaching 7 per cent.