Thousands of children in care go missing every year
Nearly 3,000 children placed in care were repeatedly running away last year, with one able to go missing a total of 67 times in twelve months, figures released today reveal. The news raises fears about the vulnerability of children to child sex grooming gangs preying on the care system, such as those which operated in Rotherham and Rochdale.
According to the NSPCC, which collected the data under the Freedom of Information Act, police forces in England and Wales recorded more than 28,000 individual incidents involving children who are recorded as having absconded more than once.
The charity found that 7,885 children in total went missing, including those who only absconded once. Most were aged 13-17 years old and the youngest was only six. Read more
Kevin Rawlinson | The Independent | 24th April 2013
The infuriating inside story of how a Labour MP’s £24 rail ticket ended up costing taxpayers £27,000
This is a sorry story which encapsulates all that has gone wrong with modern democracy and how taxpayers’ money is being scandalously wasted. It involves a quango squandering our money, a pugilistic MP and an extraordinarily large bill from lawyers. All over a £23.90 train ticket.
The saga started after a Labour MP launched a legal challenge against the Commons expenses watchdog because it rejected his claim for reimbursement of the fare for an 80-mile rail journey.
What makes the story all the more farcical is that the watchdog — which ran up a £27,000 legal bill — was set up in 2009 in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal specifically to save money for the taxpayer. Read more
Zoe Brennan | The Daily Mail | 25th April 2013
Can Liberate Tate free the arts from BP?
I was told something would happen at Tate Modern on Monday, but not exactly what. In the event, had you wandered through the London museum mid-afternoon, you would probably have missed the three activists winding their way through the galleries, whispering chunks of the transcript of the BP Deepwater Horizon trial into phone-sized cameras.
Last year, Liberate Tate, the group founded three years ago with the aim of ending the sponsorship of Tate by BP, delivered a wind turbine blade to the gallery. The year before, a naked man covered in oil curled up in a foetal position on the floor. By contrast this week’s “performance”, timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the notorious oil spill, is low-key. Read more
Susanna Rustin | The Guardian | 24th April 2013
What a Blessed earful! Cameron and foghorn-voiced actor meet at Downing Street
It may not have been his most hostile confrontation of the day but it was probably the loudest. David Cameron emerged from Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday to be bearded in Downing Street by foghorn-voiced actor Brian Blessed.
The larger-than-life star, 76, was at No 10 to deliver a petition calling on Mr Cameron to end the secrecy surrounding testing on animals for research.
It was signed by a host of celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy and Prunella Scales. The Government is consulting on a review of the regulations which exempt such tests from Freedom of Information rules. Read more
The Daily Mail | 25th April 2013
ICO FoI response reveals massive rise in data breach fines
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has stepped up its enforcement activities, by issuing double the number of data breach fines in 2012-2013 as it did in the previous 12 months. This is according to data obtained via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by digital comms vendor ViaSat.
The ICO issued 20 monetary penalties in 2012-2013 totalling £2.6 million, according to the figures. During the previous year, the organisation fined just nine organisations generating £791,000 in the process. Read more
Caroline Donnelly | IT PRO | 24th April 2013
TURKEY: Media freedom is essential for peace process
Reporters Without Borders representatives yesterday attended hearings in two trials in Silivri, 60 km northwest of Istanbul, that have major implications for freedom of information in Turkey.
One is the trial of Kurdish journalists who are accused of being members of an alleged “media committee” created by the outlawedUnion of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK). The other is a trial of alleged members of the Ergenekon ultranationalist conspiracy.
“We are here to yet again demonstrate our support for those who have been jailed because of their work as journalists and to point out that Turkey currently holds the world record in this category,” Reporters Without Borders said. Read more
Reporters without Borders | 23rd April 2013
China may have provided Pakistan with nuclear weapon designs
Washington: In the late 1970s, Central Intelligence Agency had information that China might have provided a fairly comprehensive package of proven nuclear weapons design information to Pakistan, a recently declassified document has revealed.
According to recently declassified CIA data, obtained by the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA had evidence suggesting close Pakistan-China nuclear cooperation, to the point of facilitating a nuclear weapons capability, although the intelligence community saw this as possibly a special case based on an alliance that had existed since 1963.
“This allegation has come up before, for example in a State Department document and in major news stories but this is the first time the CIA has released some of its own information,” according to the set of two documents obtained by the National Security Archive. Read more
IBN Live | 24th April
USA: After beating of Michigan family caught on tape, bill could prohibit release of 911 recordings
In the wake of the beating of a Farmington Hills family last year that left a man dead and two others severely injured, a state lawmaker is trying to limit the release of 911 recordings requested under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, said he wants to strike a balance between the public’s right to the information and the need to be sensitive after potentially horrifying emergencies.
“It seems to shock the conscience,” Heise said of making 911 tapes immediately accessible to the public. “What we’re trying to do is at least create a cooling off period to investigate these matters properly and also have some respect for victims or those who may know the victims.” Read more
Lansing State Journal | 23rd April 2013