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Weekly News Round-Up: Public bodies, prisoners and pavements

Concerns over rise in Scottish FoI failures

An increasing number of public bodies are failing to respond to Freedom of Information requests, the Scottish Information Commissioner has reported.

In her annual report, Rosemary Agnew said there had been a 14% rise in appeals to her office in 2012/13.

She said 27% of those appeals related to a failure by the public authority to respond – the highest proportion of such appeals to date.

Public authorities are legally obliged to respond within 20 working days.

The publication of the report coincides with new research which reveals that only 49% of the Scottish public are confident they would receive an FoI response within 20 working days, with only 10% stating that they would be “very confident” of a response. Read more

BBC News | 1st October 2013

Five prison staff assaulted by inmates every day in London

Five prison staff are assaulted by inmates every day in London, the Standard can reveal.

Nearly 4,000 attacks on wardens have been carried out in the past two years, with almost half of all prison officers in the capital attacked, figures show. The shocking statistics, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, reveal more than 14,000 assaults on prison staff in Britain last year, with many of the most violent attacks in London and the South East.

The figures from the Ministry of Justice show that at Belmarsh maximum security prison there were eight serious attacks on wardens in the past year — one of the highest figures in Britain — and 68 other assaults. At Pentonville, there were 268 assaults — five serious ones — on the 520 staff in 2012/13. In one case, two guards were hospitalised after being beaten by a prisoner who was refused a second helping of food. Read more

Benedict Moore-Bridger | The Evening Standard | 4th October 2013

Tripping on a pavement costs councils £47m

Nearly £47million has been paid by councils to pedestrians injured by shoddy pavements.

The payments were for personal- injury claims made by people who have tripped or fallen on poorly maintained walkways during the past four years.

Over the same period, spending on pavement maintenance went down by £2.7million to £162.2million.

The total payment figure, which includes compensation and lawyers’ fees, is likely to be higher because half of the 272 councils approached with freedom of information requests failed to respond at all or within 20 days. Read more

Hayden Smith | Metro | 4th October 2013

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