On the Isle of Wight it’s been largely about cocaine and ecstasy, at Glastonbury the hauls of Ketamine have been creeping up, while the drug of choice for heavy metal fans would seem to be Jack Daniels and other booze.
As a tens of thousands of young (and not so young) music fans await another festival season, new figures based on police activities at 10 major festivals over the past four years provide an insight into the range and scale of drugs seized…
Across all ten festivals – Glastonbury, V, the Isle of Wight, Bestival, Download, Sonisphere, Leeds, Reading, Womad and Wireless- there has been a sharp decline since that year in the value both of cocaine and cannabis seized, according to the figures obtained through a series of Freedom of Information requests by Request Initiative, a nonprofit that makes requests for charities and NGOs.
Brazil passes information access law
A freedom of information law has taken effect in Brazil, challenging an embedded culture of secrecy and bureaucracy.
Proponents, including President Dilma Rousseff, said the measure is nothing short of a revolution for a system that has kept tight control over information for decades.
But even as the president hailed the potential of the law that went into effect Wednesday, experts cautioned that it will take more than a piece of paper and political goodwill at the top to change attitudes about the flow of information. Most citizens, even journalists, are unfamiliar with the concept of free access to public information.
Associated Press | 17th May 2012
Spanish government OKs freedom of information law
Spain’s government has given the green light to a new freedom of information law aimed at giving taxpayers a better look at how their money is spent, while punishing officials who miss budget targets.
The approval came Friday at a Cabinet meeting amid a wave of public disgust over corruption and the mismanagement of public funds in a country saddled with an economic crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the bill will go to Parliament for debate after the Summer and if approved take effect in a year or so, once government Internet portals for information-sharing are set up.
Associated Press | 18th May 2012
‘Private firms should face freedom of information’
Freedom of information laws should be extended to cover private companies supplying services to the public sector, an influential committee of MPs has said, with concerns that the taxpayers must be allowed to scrutinise how their money is spent.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee complained there was “little transparency” when it came to the “financial affairs of companies which derive their income solely from government”.
“Where companies depend on public sector contracts for the bulk of their income they can expect their performance, profits and remuneration packages to be subject to proper scrutiny,” the committee said in a recent report.
PublicService.co.uk | 18th May 2012
Racism complaints against Islington police revealed as officer faces sack over vile language claims
An Islington police officer could be sacked over claims of racism as the Gazette reveals there have been dozens of similar complaints in recent years.
The Pc and a Metropolitan Police staff member are alleged to have made racist comments while on duty in the borough on March 26.
Islington police have refused to disclose details of the incident, but the Pc has been suspended and faces a gross misconduct hearing. The other staff member has resigned.
Figures obtained by the Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act reveal there were 31 other complaints of racism made against Islington officers by the public between January 1 2009 and March 31 this year.
Tom Marshall | Islington Gazette | 18th May 2012
Revealed: The £3,000 cost of council award
Scarborough Council spent more than £3,000 to send staff to a “Oscar” style awards ceremony, the Evening News can exclusively reveal.
The council forked out £3,319 for 10 members of its legal team to attend the 2012 Local Government Chronicle Awards, in London.
The shock revelation, made via an Evening News Freedom of Information request, showed the council paid £1,800 just to visit the awards.
Scarborough Evening News | 18th May 2012
Council spends £140,000 on Newport town stores schemes
More than £140,000 of public money has been spent dealing with supermarket applications in Newport in the last 12 months, a Freedom of Information Request has revealed.
Telford & Wrekin Council has spent almost £112,000 on the Sainsbury’s scheme in Station Road, according to the figures released today.
More than £50,000 of that figure was spent carrying out a public consultation.
Shropshire Star | 18th May 2012
NHS reform risk report veto is sign of freedom of information downgrade, says watchdog
Blocking the publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms is a sign that ministers want to downgrade freedom of information laws, a watchdog has warned.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham launched a scathing criticism of the decision to exercise the Government’s veto in a report on the case to Parliament.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley deployed it to block an Information Tribunal ruling that he should meet Labour demands to disclose the document.
Joe Churcher | The Independent | 15th May 2012
Private firms face FoI for government contracts
The Commons public accounts committee says companies doing business with central government should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and should have their performance and contracts examined by the government’s spending watchdogs.
In its report on the Work Programme on Tuesday, the committee recommended that the Cabinet Office Efficiency Reform Group (ERG) should extend its work to ensure that taxpayers get better value from companies that depend on central government deals for most of their income.
Jane Duhman | The Guardian | 15th MAy 2012
Anonymous takes down ICO web site
Hacktivist collective Anonymous has taken down the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) web site.
The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is thought to be directed by a group on Twitter calling itself the “Anon Ateam” in protest against what it believes is corruption within the Leveson inquiry.
A spokesperson for the ICO, a pubic body that deals with independent advice and guidance about data protection and freedom of information, confirmed that access to the web site had been “disrupted over the past few days”.
Lee Bell | The Inquirer | 15th May 2012
Civil servants caught looking at private files in personal data breaches
Almost 1,000 DWP staff were disciplined in a 10-month period for unlawfully or inappropriately accessing social security records, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information laws.
Meanwhile, over the past year there were at least 13 cases per month of unlawful access to medical records reported to the Department of Health (DoH).
Andrew Hough | The Telegraph | 14th May 2012
Ofcom has appointed a special team to step up its investigation into News Corporation‘s holding in BSkyB, following a FoIA request by The Financial Times and seen by The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.
The regulator has created a unit called Project Apple earlier this year to look at details of phone hacking and alleged bribing of public officials that have emerged from the Leveson enquiry and in media reports.
If Ofcom finds against BSkyB, News Corp could be forced to sell down some of its holding or James Murdoch could be forced to step down as chairman. It is understood BSkyB has already been discussed at four Ofcom board meetings, the most recent last month.
Border officials on ‘club class’ trips
Hundreds of immigration officials travelled Club Class on cross-Channel ferries and racked up £1.1million in hotel bills in Calais last year at taxpayers’ expense a FoIA request has revealed, The Daily Mail reports.
Until February last year, when the perk was stopped, their premium tickets were costing £7,000 a month. Since they have been forced to travel economy, the average bill has nearly halved to less than £4,000 a month. A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We stopped staff travelling this way more than a year ago and are looking at other ways of driving down costs to provide better value for the taxpayer.’
Cost of London Games rises to £11bn as report unveils Olympian-scale security overspend
A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reveals the true cost of the 2012 Olympic Games is now around £11bn. The report is highly critical of the London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog)- a private company not subject to Freedom of Information legislation – and the Home Office.
When the bid was won in 2007, the budget was set at £2.4bn, but that rose to more than £9.3bn within two years. But this does not include £788m spent buying land for the Olympic Park in Stratford and at least £826m on legacy projects, bringing the true cost to almost £11bn.