Medical and social security records being stored unlawfully and inappropriately accessed, statistics show
Medical and social security records kept by public bodies are being unlawfully or inappropriately accessed dozens of times a month and hundreds of civil servants disciplined for data offences, according to Government records.
Staff at the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) are being reprimanded at a rate of nearly five per day for breach of the rules governing its vast database – thought to be the largest of its kind in Europe – while the Department of Health (DoH) last year recorded 13 cases a month of unlawful access to medical records.
The statistics, obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches under the Freedom of Information Act, will increase concern about the security of personal data and the ease with which private investigators are selling access to personal and confidential information, much of which is held on state computer systems and is illegal to obtain without suitable authorisation.
Cahal Milmo | The Independent | 14th May 2012
IVF clinics accused of putting money before safety
IVF clinics in the UK are practising aggressive fertility treatments that are putting women and children at unjustified risk, experts say.
The commercially driven industry uses unnecessary procedures, high doses of powerful drugs and risky interventions to help desperate couples spending thousands of pounds to conceive.
There were almost 30,000 cases of OHSS – which can cause chest pains shortness of breath and, in rare cases, kidney failure and death – between 1991 and 2007 in the UK, according to figures obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Jeremy Laurence | The Independent | 14th May 2012
Majority of adults think children should be protected from tobacco marketing
The vast majority of UK adults [84 per cent] think children should be protected from marketing by tobacco companies, according to new research by Cancer Research UK.
Four out five people believe tobacco marketing is harmful to children, while more than two thirds agree that eye catching logs, colourful and distinctive branding on packets make cigarettes more appealing to children.
Last week, a Bristol-based NHS body, Smokefree South West, set up to tackle smoking in the region, said it was being bombarded by an overwhelming number of by Freedom of Information requests from organisations funded by the tobacco industry.
Nina Lakhani | The Independent | 14th May 2012
Shock cost of wheelie bins
REPLACING wheelie bins has cost Wigan Council more than £400,000.
Figures released through a Freedom of Information request have revealed that in the past three financial years Wigan Council has spent £406,086 on replacing the coloured recycling bins across the borough.
Wigan Metro says that the bins cost between £15 and £20 to replace dependent on size, colour and the amount ordered. With an average cost of £17.50 that means that in the past three years, Wigan Council has replaced approximately 23,204 bins. However, the council say the reasons for replacing wheelie bins takes into account many different factors
Wigan Today | 14th May 2012
British temping agency bosses are paying their workers through foreign-owned firms to cut costs and dodge tax. Paperwork obtained by the Daily Mirror through the Freedom of Information Act found that one arrangement was reported as “highly suspicious” but the overseas company was given a licence by UK regulators anyway.
Recruitment Solutions Limited boasts that it can increase profits for employment agencies by 10% to 30% and claims to be exempt from national insurance payments by being based abroad. Any savings are shared with the agency and not with workers.
An official at the Gangmasters Licensing Authority left the tick box next to whether RSL was “fit and proper” blank and warned “this could open the floodgates for other companies based outside to make similar applications”.
Another GLA official who approved RSL’s licence agreed there was a “potential breach” with this “highly suspicious” arrangement.
RSL boss Wilhelm Meier has an office address in Hong Kong but his website is registered on the Isle of Man. He told the Daily Mirror that he “complies with all UK laws”.
Unsolved murder cases regularly reviewed
Scotland Yard has published a list of “undetected murders” which shows all unsolved cases are regularly reopened. In response to a Freedom of Information request, it was shown that all 290 unsolved murder cases n Greater London over the past 13 years have been investigated again, the Times reports.
Funding cuts denying NHS fertility treatments
Women are being denied fertility treatment as NHS trusts cut the number of IVF cycles they are willing to fund. A Freedom of Information responses to Pulse magazine from 29 NHS trusts revealed that the average number of IVF cycles provided so far this financial year is down 14 per cent on the whole of last year, the Independent and Telegraph both report.
Deceased Wu-Tang Clan rapper’s FBI file released
The FBI has released a 93-page file on Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard which shows that the rapper was linked to a selection of crimes, the Guardian reports. The report was released in response to a Freedom of Information request by Rich Jones of the Gun.io blog and reveals that Russell Tyrone Jones, aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard, was “heavily involved” in “murder, car-jackings…and the sale of drugs [and] illegal guns” and was arrested more than 15 times.