Labour warns over £3.6bn school repairs backlog
Children face being taught in overcrowded classrooms with leaky roofs because of a £3.6 billion “black hole” in the budget for school repairs, according to Labour. Figures suggest that the amount of money set aside to rebuild state schools in England will cover less than a quarter of the real costs.
Data published following a series of Freedom of Information requests suggests that local councils are facing a significant repairs backlog because of budget cuts.
But the Government dismissed the claims as “nonsense” and insisted it was spending more than Labour put aside in its first eight years in power. Read more
Graeme Paton | The Telegraph | 12th April 2013
Three police fired for social media misuse
Three police officers have been sacked for misusing social media over the past five years, figures from Scotland Yard have shown. Allegations linked to the use of sites including Facebook and Twitter have been recorded against 75 Metropolitan Police officers since 2009.
Figures revealed after a Freedom of Information request by the Evening Standard showed that 38 of the claims were substantiated. Of these 25 resulted in formal action, including the three officers who were sacked, five who received management advice and 17 who were given a written warning.
The release of the figures follows a furore involving Kent Police where the country’s first youth crime commissioner Paris Brown was forced to resign over offensive Tweets. Read more
Margaret David | The Independent | 11th April 2013
Suffolk teachers take time off over stress of Ofsted visits
The number of teachers taking time off in one county has rocketed – and the intense stress of tough Ofsted school inspections is being blamed. There has been a 16 per cent rise in days off sick among school staff in Suffolk.
The average number of sick days per teacher rose to 6.45 last year from 5.53 in 2010, according to new figures – the equivalent of every teacher having an extra day off through illness.
The statistics have been released by Suffolk County Council following a Freedom of Information request. They revealed that some 86,138 days were lost to sickness during the last three years – equal to a staggering 441 academic years of teaching time. Read more
News Agencies | The Telegraph | 11th April 2013
USA: ACLU accuses the IRS of reading Americans’ private email without a search warrant
The group believes the tax collection agency has run afoul of the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches.
The tax man may have his hand in more than just your pocket. The IRS routinely searches Americans’ emails, sometimes in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the American Civil Liberties Union claims.
The ACLU released a trove of documents on its website Wednesday that it obtained from the nation’s tax collection agency through a Freedom of Information Act request. The group says they “reveal that the IRS Criminal Tax Division has long taken the position that the IRS can read your emails without a warrant.” Read more
David Knowles | New York Daily News | 10th April 2013
USA: Freedom of Information Conference affirms benefits of openness
CONNECTICUT – Openness makes for a safer society, panelists at an annual Freedom of Information Conference concluded Tuesday.
In the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, the issues of transparency in government is a timely topic, Freedom of Information Commission Executive Director Colleen Murphy said to a crowd of town officials from across the state gathered at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station.
Questions whether gun permit records and death certificates should be public created discussion among panelists and audience members, but the overall consensus was that the release of information is crucial to a fully democratic society. Read more
Viktoria Sundqvist | New Haven Register | 10th April 2013