Nearly 3,000 children placed in care were repeatedly running away last year, with one able to go missing a total of 67 times in twelve months, figures released today reveal. The news raises fears about the vulnerability of children to child sex grooming gangs preying on the care system, such as those which operated in Rotherham and Rochdale.
According to the NSPCC, which collected the data under the Freedom of Information Act, police forces in England and Wales recorded more than 28,000 individual incidents involving children who are recorded as having absconded more than once.
The charity found that 7,885 children in total went missing, including those who only absconded once. Most were aged 13-17 years old and the youngest was only six. Read more
Kevin Rawlinson | The Independent | 24th April 2013
This is a sorry story which encapsulates all that has gone wrong with modern democracy and how taxpayers’ money is being scandalously wasted. It involves a quango squandering our money, a pugilistic MP and an extraordinarily large bill from lawyers. All over a £23.90 train ticket.
The saga started after a Labour MP launched a legal challenge against the Commons expenses watchdog because it rejected his claim for reimbursement of the fare for an 80-mile rail journey.
What makes the story all the more farcical is that the watchdog — which ran up a £27,000 legal bill — was set up in 2009 in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal specifically to save money for the taxpayer. Read more
Zoe Brennan | The Daily Mail | 25th April 2013
I was told something would happen at Tate Modern on Monday, but not exactly what. In the event, had you wandered through the London museum mid-afternoon, you would probably have missed the three activists winding their way through the galleries, whispering chunks of the transcript of the BP Deepwater Horizon trial into phone-sized cameras.
Last year, Liberate Tate, the group founded three years ago with the aim of ending the sponsorship of Tate by BP, delivered a wind turbine blade to the gallery. The year before, a naked man covered in oil curled up in a foetal position on the floor. By contrast this week’s “performance”, timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the notorious oil spill, is low-key. Read more
Susanna Rustin | The Guardian | 24th April 2013
It may not have been his most hostile confrontation of the day but it was probably the loudest. David Cameron emerged from Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday to be bearded in Downing Street by foghorn-voiced actor Brian Blessed.
The larger-than-life star, 76, was at No 10 to deliver a petition calling on Mr Cameron to end the secrecy surrounding testing on animals for research.
It was signed by a host of celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy and Prunella Scales. The Government is consulting on a review of the regulations which exempt such tests from Freedom of Information rules. Read more
The Daily Mail | 25th April 2013
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has stepped up its enforcement activities, by issuing double the number of data breach fines in 2012-2013 as it did in the previous 12 months. This is according to data obtained via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by digital comms vendor ViaSat.
The ICO issued 20 monetary penalties in 2012-2013 totalling £2.6 million, according to the figures. During the previous year, the organisation fined just nine organisations generating £791,000 in the process. Read more
Caroline Donnelly | IT PRO | 24th April 2013
Reporters Without Borders representatives yesterday attended hearings in two trials in Silivri, 60 km northwest of Istanbul, that have major implications for freedom of information in Turkey.
One is the trial of Kurdish journalists who are accused of being members of an alleged “media committee” created by the outlawedUnion of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK). The other is a trial of alleged members of the Ergenekon ultranationalist conspiracy.
“We are here to yet again demonstrate our support for those who have been jailed because of their work as journalists and to point out that Turkey currently holds the world record in this category,” Reporters Without Borders said. Read more
Reporters without Borders | 23rd April 2013
Washington: In the late 1970s, Central Intelligence Agency had information that China might have provided a fairly comprehensive package of proven nuclear weapons design information to Pakistan, a recently declassified document has revealed.
According to recently declassified CIA data, obtained by the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA had evidence suggesting close Pakistan-China nuclear cooperation, to the point of facilitating a nuclear weapons capability, although the intelligence community saw this as possibly a special case based on an alliance that had existed since 1963.
“This allegation has come up before, for example in a State Department document and in major news stories but this is the first time the CIA has released some of its own information,” according to the set of two documents obtained by the National Security Archive. Read more
IBN Live | 24th April
In the wake of the beating of a Farmington Hills family last year that left a man dead and two others severely injured, a state lawmaker is trying to limit the release of 911 recordings requested under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, said he wants to strike a balance between the public’s right to the information and the need to be sensitive after potentially horrifying emergencies.
“It seems to shock the conscience,” Heise said of making 911 tapes immediately accessible to the public. “What we’re trying to do is at least create a cooling off period to investigate these matters properly and also have some respect for victims or those who may know the victims.” Read more
Lansing State Journal | 23rd April 2013
ONE child sex attack was reported every 20 minutes last year, police figures out today show.
About 23,000 children were reported victims in England and Wales during 2010/11 but fewer than 10 per cent of cases ended in a conviction.
There were 4,973 alleged victims aged ten and under, including 1,472 younger than six. And six times as many reported offences were committed against girls as against boys.
More than a third of all sex crimes reported were against children.
The statistics, obtained by the NSPCC in a freedom of information request, cover rape, incest and child prostitution. The charity said a major effort was needed to protect children and boost conviction rates.
Read more here.
The Daily Mail | 4th April 2012
The Guardian’s court victory is an important step towards transparency
The court of appeal today took a bold step forward in advancing court transparency. The decision in Guardian News and Media Ltd v City of Westminster Magistrates Court established in common law for the first time the right of ordinary people and the media to obtain documents that are used in court cases.
It has been a long time coming. The UK has undergone a transparency revolution over the past 10 years. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) has forced over 100,000 government bodies to make the information that they collect and use in daily actions available on request to the public. Recent government initiatives have made the expenditures of government bodies and local governments available online. Parliamentary bills, reports and proceedings are available online quickly.
Read more here.
David Banisar | The Guardian | 3rd April 2012
£83 million backlog of repairs at Warwickshire schools
WARWICKSHIRE schools have a staggering £83 million backlog of repairs.
Warwickshire County Council bosses estimated the cost of getting all the county’s schools up to a reasonable standard of repair.
The figures were uncovered by the Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act.
It comes after Coventry education bosses admitted it would take a staggering 100 years to rebuild the city’s crumbling schools if they continued at the current rate
Read more here.
Lucy Lynch | Coventry Telegraph | 3rd April 2012
£30,000 owed by overseas patients
SCARBOROUGH’S NHS Trust is owed more than £30,000 in hospital bills, racked up by overseas patients not entitled to free treatment.
The figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request to Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust, show that since February 2009, £33,229.41 has either been written off or is currently being chased by the Trust.
The numbers include £10,297 that the trust is still chasing from a Syrian patient who underwent treatment in May 2010.
Read more here.
Scarborough Evening News | 2nd April 2012