Disability hate crime is at its highest level since records began
There were 1,942 recorded incidents of disability hate crime in England and Wales in 2011, an increase of more than 25% on the total for 2010 and the highest since this data was first recorded in April 2010.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows the number of recorded incidents grew by 60% between 2009 and 2011.
While almost 2,000 reports were made to the police last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) made just 523 convictions for disability hate crime over the same period.
John Burn-Murdoch | The Guardian | August 14th 2012
Claire Savage | BBC | August 14th 2012
USA: This is not a trial. It is an attempt to legitimise a death threat’
A US Army officer representing one of Guantanamo Bay’s most notorious prisoners has spoken out against the secretive nature of the Military Commissions system, insisting it risks becoming little more than a “show game” to execute suspects, denying them and the American people the right to a fair trial.
Captain Jason Wright was appointed by the military to represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is charged along with four others with conspiring and executing the 9/11 attacks. Yet, the officer revealed to The Independent, rafts of vital evidence – including the three and half years his client spent at secret CIA “black” sites – have been deemed classified.
It was only through a Freedom of Information request that redacted files were released showing that Mohammed had been subjected to waterboarding interrogation 183 times, kept awake for seven days straight and had his family’s lives threatened.
Terri Jodd | The Independent | August 15th 2012
Over £1m to police Olympic torch relay in Northern Ireland
It cost the PSNI more than £1m to police the Olympic torch run in Northern Ireland.
The figure was revealed following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC to the police.
The exact cost to the taxpayer was £1,029,749.
In comparison, according to a Metropolitan police briefing paper, it cost the Met almost £750,000 to police the Olympic torch relay in London.
The Metropolitan police force covers Greater London which has a population of almost 8m people, and the torch relay was in the city for seven days.
USA: FAA Documents Raise Questions About Safety of Drones in U.S. Airspace
Under pressure to open the nation’s skies to drone flights, federal regulators are relying on decades of aviation rules that imagined a human being in the cockpit – not an onslaught of remotely piloted aircraft – prompting questions about whether federal flight rules for drones are strong enough to prevent accidents and midair collisions, recently released documents show.
Congress in February directed regulators to more rapidly establish guidelines for the wider embrace of drones, and a subsequent debate about them leaves the impression for many Americans that unmanned aircraft have rarely operated here. Yet experimental drone flights accompanied by their own set of rules have occurred for years and are described in thousands of pages of FAA experimental flight records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting through the Freedom of Information Act.
GW Schulz | Wired | August 14th 2012
Zombie FOI request costs Lincolnshire County Council
Questions about a zombie pandemic and the cost of biscuits are among the requests costing Lincolnshire County Council up to £500,000 a year.
The authority said Freedom of Information (FOI) request numbers have risen from 450 to 1,000 in three years.
It added responding to some was “not a good use of public funds”.
An organisation supporting the legislation said people needed to know about important information that is not in the public domain.
BBC | August 14th 2012
Guantanamo Bay inmates were ‘injected with mind altering drugs and interrogated’ according to Pentagon report
Guantanamo Bay prisoners were interrogated while being dosed up on ‘mind altering drugs’, according to a secret Pentagon report released under Freedom of Information laws.
The two-year probe by the Pentagon’s inspector general into the use of anti-psychotic medication during interrogations revealed detainees inside the U.S. military’s facility in Cuba were forcibly injected with powerful sedatives used in psychiatric hospitals.
‘Certain detainees, diagnosed as having serious mental health conditions being treated with psychoactive medications on a continuing basis, were interrogated,’ the inspector general concludes in the report.
The Daily Mail | July 12th 2012
Tiffany Jenkins: Authorities are out of tune on music tuition
EVERY child must have the chance to learn to play an instrument for free, purely for the love of music.
When the BBC broadcast the Young Musician of the Year contest in May, which cello player Laura van der Heijde, 15, won, there was little fanfare and even less fuss. Compared with X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice, there was no well-promoted, prime-time programme on a mainstream channel (it was on BBC4), and no endless strings of adverts or emotive cajoling to get people to phone and vote for their favourite. Few know her name like they do One Direction, created by X Factor.
Details obtained by Conservative MSP Liz Smith, via Freedom of Information laws, revealed a number of authorities charge, or are about to, including Aberdeen, Highland, Dumfries and Galloway, and Renfrewshire, which recently began charging for additional tuition.
The Scotsman | July 14th 2012
Hundreds of stalking cases over last five years
Street has been identified as a stalking hotspot in figures obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.
Almost 300 cases of stalking have been reported to police in Mendip over the last five years, the figures reveal.
The area’s stalking hotspot is Street North, which includes Clarks Village, the High Street, Strode College, Strode Theatre and Crispin School with 21 cases reported to police since 2007.
Wells Journal | July 12th 2012
Australian Police ring up $34,400 phone bill on directory assistance
POLICE are spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to have phone calls connected by an operator rather than dial numbers themselves.
Victoria Police spent more than $34,400 for information calls in the year to May, documents released to the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information laws show.
Herald Sun | July 16th 2012
UK public bodies fail to reply to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA), finds monitoring exercise by Information Commissioner, reports CIO news.
The monitoring of nineteen public bodies has revealed that, whilst the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Cabinet Office made improvements in FoIA response times, the Welsh government and Nottingham City Council have been made to sign undertakings to hasten their responses.
Amongst the poor performers were also Kent County Council, Cornwall Council, North Somerset Council and East Lancashire NHS Trust.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham commented that “Responding promptly to freedom of information requests is important for maintaining public confidence and achieving greater transparency…it is vital that [the MoD and Cabinet Office’s] improvements are sustained”.
An all-party parliamentary group, chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie is asking for full disclosure of intelligence documents possibly implicating British officials in secret renditions of UK residents to Guantánamo Bay and other notorious jails.
The Guardian reports that an Information Tribunal is currently examining whether or not those documents should be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, as lawyers for the Foreign Office claim.
The newspaper also mentions that Tyrie’s parliamentary group is opposing the refusal of the FCO with the support of the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.
The team asks for the release of documents relating to three cases: The rendition and ill-treatment of UK resident and Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, the FCO’s request to former US state department legal adviser John Bellinger to claim Washington opposed the disclosure of CIA information about Mohamed that was passed on to MI5 and MI6, and finally communications between Britain’s intelligence and CIA about Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, who were also held in Guantánamo Bay.
Ian Cobain, a journalist for the Guardian, told the tribunal that a pattern of allegation and denial followed by later acknowledgement that the allegations may have had substance after all “has been repeated several times over the last six years”. The case continues.
Doctor trainees’ rotas might ignore EU directive
FoIA replies relating to junior doctors’ rotas in NHS trusts had been brought into question by Bob Greatorex, the head of workforce planning and professional standards, it emerged today. The Telegraph reports 57 of the 77 trusts questioned replied to British Medical Journal Careers’ requests and although the data show all comply with the EU directive of a 48-hour limit, Mr Greatorex doubted its accuracy saying many trainees work extra hours not recorded under the system.
Scottish Executive’s secretary communications flooded with personal data instead of governmental issues
Sir Peter Housden seems more preoccupied with mundane hobbies, films and shopping than governmental issues, judging by his weekly updates to thousands of his staff. An FoIA request filed from The Telegraph, revealed that the Scottish Executive’s permanent secretary even received a complaint from a civil servant that he was not saying enough about his actual job.
Scottish First Minister criticised for ‘culture of secrecy’
Alex Salmond was brought under pressure last night for refusing to disclose information about any legal advice received pertaining to independent Scotland’s statutes in Europe, the Scotsman reports today. Following an FoIA request, the First Minister said according to the Ministerial Code of Conduct such advice is confidential, but a spokesman for the Scottish Labour party complained Mr Salmond was adopting a “culture or secrecy”. “The only thing stopping him from doing it may be that the Scottish Government hasn’t taken legal advice, or that it fatally undermines his case,” he said.
Carmarthenshire council spends £100,000 on private eyes
A freedom of information request to Carmarthenshire council revealed it has spent £100,000 on private detectives over the past three years, This is South Wales reports.