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Hundreds of Croydon families worse off as Government’s £500-per-week benefit cap is tested in the borough

Hundreds of Croydon families worse off as Government’s £500-per-week benefit cap is tested in the borough

According to data obtained by East London Lines through a Freedom of Information request 553 households in Croydon are set to be affected by the changes with 180 losing £100-£300 a week and seven losing over £300 a week.

Combined with the bedroom tax which came into effect on April 1 and saw tenants with one spare bedroom receiving a 14 per cent cut in their housing benefit and 25 per cent for those with two or more, many residents are expected to be forced to move home. The average weekly rent for a three-bedroom property in Croydon is £258, for properties with four bedrooms or more it is £381.

One local housing association, Wandle, told ELL that they have 95 under-occupiers and 20 households affected by the benefit cap and confirmed that a number of families are planning on moving due to the changes. Read more

East London Lines | 15th April 2013

Police officers report theft from own station after thief steals tin of biscuits

Officers were so outraged when the snacks went missing from their control room kitchen they logged the theft as an official crime.

Details of the theft are unclear but it is thought officers suspected a colleague of taking the biscuit tin from the station at Heavitree Road in Exeter, Devon. The crime at Devon and Cornwall Police’s headquarters was logged on February 28, 2012 – and remains officially unsolved.

Officers have been forced to reveal the biscuit tin crime following a Freedom of Information request. A spokesman for the force said staff are encouraged to report stolen goods regardless of value. Read more

Alice Philipson | The Telegraph | 17th April 2013

USA: Boston bombing outage rumors shed light on mobile and Internet ‘kill switch’

Following the Boston Marathon bombings, news began to spread of a US government cellphone network shutdown. While the claims were quickly shown to be false, a secret federal rule does, in fact, make such a shutdown possible.

While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has in the past denied the existence of Standard Operating Procedure 303, as Ars Technica recently pointed out, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) challenged the secrecy of such documents in 2012 by filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

What EPIC found via its lawsuit was that a 2007 report stated that the network shutdown policy was adopted in March of 2006. According to that report, the National Coordinating Center, a part of the DHS, was to be the main player in “any actions leading up to and following the termination of private wireless network connections, both within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.” Read more

RT | 17th April 2013

USA: ATI, CEI FOIA Suit for EPA’s Instant Messages Leads EPA Head to Acknowledge Poor Record Keeping, Begs Question of Extent of Legal Violations

WASHINGTON, DC – Stung by widespread publicity resulting from recent American Tradition Institute (ATI) and Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits seeking emails and instant messages (IMs) filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), acting administrator Bob Perciasepe yesterday reminded EPA employees they are expected to comply with open-record laws.

Notably, this all-staff memo promised to do better managing IMs — an alternative to email that we now know that EPA provides its employees, but which the Agency apparently has never provided to Congress or FOIA requesters.

This indicates the public should expect to hear whether EPA has simply been refusing to search and produce from IM accounts, or destroying the transcripts. As these are clearly federal records this would represent a possible violation of the U.S. criminal code, specifically 18 U.S.C. 2071 (Concealment, removal or mutilation of federal records). Read more

The Wall Street Journal | 17th April 2013

USA: The information’s public, but it’ll cost you 10 bucks

If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to be the victim of a burglary, mugging or other similar crime, chances are you’ve had to pay the Montgomery County government $10 for a copy of the one-page police report on the incident to submit to your insurer.

Ever wonder how the county can charge you for a police report when Maryland’s version of the Freedom of Information Act greatly restricts the government’s ability to charge you for copies of public documents such as police reports?

It’s easy: They aren’t charging you for a copy of the report; they’re charging you for the materials (i.e. the ink and paper) used to copy the report, according to the county regulation setting the fee. As they say in baseball “you can look it up.” It’s County regulation 35.07.01. (But don’t ask the county for a copy!) Read more

Timothy F. Reynolds | Maryland Community News Online | 17th April 2013

AUSTRALIA: Barton Highway cameras collect the lion’s share of $25.5m revenue

The Barton Highway between Curran Drive and Gold Creek Road has proved the most lucrative stretch of road for the ACT Government in the last three years, generating nearly $4 million in traffic infringement fines.

A document released under Freedom of Information shows that of the nearly $25.5 million in total revenue from red light and speed cameras in the territory from 2010 to 2012, cameras on that section of the highway accounted for over 15 per cent.

While it continues to be the biggest money spinner, the number of infringements recorded there has been reducing each year, with the 7408 infringements issued last year down nearly 30 per cent from 2010. That echoes a slight downward trend in revenue across all cameras, with around $9 million raised in 2010, $8.3 million in 2011 and $8.1 million in 2012. Read more

Fleta Page | The Canberra Times | 18th April 2013

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