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Gove contests ICO’s private email release order

Education Secretary Michael Gove is challenging an order from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to release material from his private email account, leading to fears over the future strength of freedom of information laws.

The government has been considering an appeal for several weeks, after Information Commissioner Christopher Graham decided material contained within an email between Michael Gove and his special advisers qualified as government business.

The commissioner found the Department for Education in breach of freedom of information laws for having failed to disclose requested information – the subject line of the email and the date and time it was sent. He ordered the department to either release the material or issue an official refusal notice with reasons for withholding.

Read more here.

Public Service| 30 March 2012

Call for a smoking ban in parks and play areas.

Anti-Tobacco group wants Wales-wide prohibition.

Outdoor spaces owned and maintained by local authorities could be the next natural target for a smoking ban, following the success of the enclosed public spaces ban, which came into force five years ago today.

Almost all health boards now restrict smoking in hospital and clinic grounds and the Welsh Government has pledged to introduce legislation to outlaw smoking in cars carrying children if the three-year Fresh Start Wales campaign fails to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

Now Ash Wales is calling for councils to act and extend no smoking regulations to parks and outdoor play areas.

A Freedom of Information request by the charity found Caerphilly and Powys councils are the only local authorities in Wales to have policies forbidding smoking in such areas. Caerphilly council acted to ban smoking in around 100 play areas following a campaign by the local youth forum.

Read more here.

Madeleine Brindley| Western Mail| 2nd April 2012 

Police report 6,000 more speeding drivers on roads.

A growing number of motorists are risking themselves and others by speeding – including one who was clocked 133mph.

Leicestershire police last year recorded a total of 43,458 speeding offences, compared to 37,188 the previous year.

The figures, obtained this week by insurance firm LV, under the Freedom of Information Act, include offences committed on motorways and major and minor roads.

Read more here.

Leicester Mercury| 31st March 2012

Rise in number of rape victims aged under 13 in North Lincolnshire.

Results from a Freedom of Information request show that last year there were 20 rape victims under the age of 13 whose cases were being dealt with by Humberside Police.

For the previous two years, the family protection team was supporting seven victims in each year.

But although the number has now increased, it is not certain that all new reported cases are of offences in 2011.

Read more here.

Selina Maycock| Scunthorpe Telegraph| 31st March 2012

Teach TDs to use twitter #wasteofcash?        

MOST people get the hang of social media themselves, but Irish taxpayers have had to spend almost €3,000 training TDs and senators on how to use Facebook and Twitter, writes Mark Tighe.

ICS Skills, a technologytraining company, has been paid €2,990 to give courses in social media to 11 politicians and 77 Oireachtas staff, according to records released under the Freedom of Information Act.

A number of politicians who attended the courses don’t seem to have been spurred into more socialmedia action. Among them was Michael Healy-Rae, an independent from Kerry South, whose Facebook page shows little sign of activity and has attracted just 115 “likes”. Healy-Rae also appears to have a Twitter account but it has not been used this year. He did not return a call last week.

Mark Tighe| The Sunday Times|1st April 2012

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