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Posts Tagged ‘Police’

National police unit monitors 9,000 ‘domestic extremists’

National police unit monitors 9,000 ‘domestic extremists’

A national police unit that uses undercover officers to spy on political groups is currently monitoring almost 9,000 people it has deemed “domestic extremists”.

The National Domestic Extremism Unit is using surveillance techniques to monitor campaigners who are listed on the secret database, details of which have been disclosed to the Guardian after a freedom of information request.

A total of 8,931 individuals “have their own record” on a database kept by the unit, for which the Metropolitan police is the lead force. Read more

Paul Lewis, Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian | 

NHS chiefs fail to report surgeons over botched operations due to loophole

Bungling surgeons are being left off NHS danger lists because of a lethal loophole which puts patients at risk and leaves cowboy doctors riding high in performance tables.

Sub-standard surgeons are supposedly monitored on a database which registers operations that go wrong.

But under narrow guidelines, botched cases are only recorded if patients die, get infected or have to return to the hospital. Read more

Andrew Gregory | The Daily Mirror | 26th June 2013

BBC spent £28 million in eight years for stifling criticism

It’s paradoxical that figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the BBC, an organisation dedicated to disseminating ideas and promoting freedom of speech, has spent £28 million in the last eight years ensuring that people who leave will not speak out.

So-called “compromise agreements” have been signed by 539 staff, of whom 14 received more than £300,000 for their silence.

Tony Hall, the new director-general, has ordered pay-offs to be capped at £150,000 from September, but he hasn’t said whether confidentiality clauses will continue. Read more

The Economic Times | 25th June 2013

More than 4,000 officers disciplined for criminal behaviour in five years

More than 4,000 police officers were disciplined for criminal behaviour in the past five years. They include an inspector who was sacked after being arrested for shoplifting and a PC who resigned after installing a camera in a ladies toilet.

A sergeant in Lancashire was also sacked after he was discovered with three sub-machine guns and ammunition. A colleague from the same force resigned after being caught drug-trafficking. The number of officers found guilty of misconduct has shot up by 56 per cent – from 559 in 2008 to 873 in 2012. In total, 4,115 officers were disciplined over criminal behaviour, of which 643 were dismissed or forced to resign. Read more.

Steve Robson | The Daily Mail | 25th June 2013

Suffolk: More than 1,000 prosecutions are dropped in past six years

Figures from Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Suffolk, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that between 2007 and 2012 a total of 1,032 proceedings were dropped for a range of reasons.

Reasons for cases being scrapped include other sentences, which accounted for 465 dropped prosecutions, a caution being more suitable and the effect on the victim’s physical or mental health.

Other reasons given were a long delay between the offence or charge and trial, the age of the offender and “loss or harm put right”. Read more

Lauren Everitt | The EADT24 | 25th June 2013

£2k a day for trainee doctors as costs spiral out of control

£2k a day for trainee doctors as costs spiral out of control

Trainee doctors are being paid more than £2,000 a day for locum shifts in NHS hospitals as the bill for agency staff spirals out of control, a Telegraph investigation has found.

Ministers warned NHS managers to “get a grip” on the problem, saying that some hospitals were now relying on unacceptably high levels of temporary staff. In some cases doctors were being paid rates of £15,000 a week – the equivalent to a doctor earning an annual salary of more than £700,000.

Senior managers at hospitals spending more than £2,000 a day on medical staff admitted that costs were “spiralling out of control” and sums paid had become “ridiculous”. Our investigation discloses how hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent paying doctors via agencies, which take a cut of the payments. Read more

Laura Donnelly | The Telegraph | 8th April 2013

The secret cost of injustice

SCOTLAND’S new single police force is under pressure to publish hidden payments to victims of wrongful arrest after MSPs demanded action. They urged the new body to come clean about the public money being paid out in response to complaints of police errors, by regularly publishing all future compensation payouts.

The Sunday Herald has had to use Freedom of Information legislation to establish that £70,000 was paid by police in 34 successful claims of wrongful arrest between 2008 and 2012. These payments are never normally disclosed and crucial details of the cases remain secret.

Margo Macdonald, Independent MSP for Lothians, said: “It would be an excellent statement of intention and a defining statement as regards the attitude of the new single force if it said it would consider regularly publishing all compensation payments.

“The important thing is it is open and accessible to the general public. That way we’ll see how much money is involved, what sort of wrongful arrest it was and what sort of misdemeanours were committed.” Read more

Ben Riley-Smith | Herald Scotland | 7th April 2013

Tobacco firm to challenge plain cigarette pack plan

THE tobacco giant JTI is preparing to challenge the Scottish Government’s plain cigarette packets plans in an advertising campaign next week. It will reveal correspondence, obtained through Freedom of Information, from the Department of Health in which officials state there is no hard evidence to suggest the change will cut smoking levels.

SNP health minister Michael Matheson announced last week that Scotland would be the first part of the UK to introduce plain packaging and insisted this was based on “available evidence”. Scottish Government officials say the Public Health Research Consortium has found the plans will reduce attractiveness and stop youngsters taking up the habit.

The FOI correspondence, which has been seen by The Scotsman but cannot yet be published, will be part of an advertising campaign and dates from 2011. Read more

The Scotsman | 5th April 2013

NHS hospitals in bid to treat far more private patients

Hospitals are seeking a radical increase in revenue from the treatment of private patients as their budgets come under pressure from the needs of an ageing population, according to new figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Great Ormond Street children’s hospital has budgeted for an extra £11m from treating private patients in the financial year ending in 2013 compared with 2010 – a 34% increase. The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is also expecting to boost revenues by £9m over the same period – a 42% rise.

The Royal Marsden is expecting an extra 28% increase on 2010 revenues, equating to about £12.7m. Across all trusts an 8% increase in revenues from private patients is expected to be posted for 2012-13 compared with 2010-11. Read more

Daniel Boffey | The Observer | 6th April 2013

Huge payout bill for classroom accidents: Schools pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds to injured pupils

Schools are paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation to pupils involved in classroom accidents, figures show. Families in Lancashire have been awarded almost £800,000 over the past five years after they sued over falls, slips, fingers trapped in doors and other mishaps.

Campaigners have hit out at this growing compensation culture, warning the spiralling council payouts mean less money is spent on education. The figures come a month after it emerged that compensation for teachers injured at work broke through the £30million barrier for the first time in 2012.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there were 100 successful claims for injuries sustained by pupils on Lancashire school property between 2006-7 and 2011-12. The resulting payouts added up to £783,831. Read more

Sarah Harris | Daily Mail | 6th April 2013

Murderers, rapists and paedophiles among 400 wanted criminals on run in the UK for more than five years

More than 400 wanted criminals, including murderers, paedophiles and rapists, have been at large in Britain for more than five years. The dangerous offenders should have been returned to prison after committing fresh crimes or breaking the rules of their early release.

But they have evaded the police and are instead walking the streets. Critics said the criminals posed a ‘tremendous risk’ to the public. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that 413 offenders ‘unlawfully at large’ at the end of last year had been wanted for more than five years. Read more

Jack Doyle | Daily Mail | 7th April 2013

£1.2m Midlands police bill for informants

West Mercia Police spent £127,018, according to figures released through the Freedom of Information Act. In Staffordshire, police spent £305,260 and in the West Midlands £850,976, creating a combined bill of £1,283,254.

Senior police officers today defended the bill, saying informants are sometimes the only means to crack down on serious organised crime and terrorism. They say there are strict controls, laid out in law, on payments to such sources.

Sarah Buxton, spokeswoman for West Mercia Police, said: “Informants play a vital part in bringing offenders to justice and are a valuable source of intelligence. “They often help to speed up an investigation, resulting in significant cost and time savings, which can then be passed on to the communities West Mercia Police serves.

Read more

Shropshire Star | 8th April 2013

Judges confirm Hart investigation; Daily News FOI request denied by county

Midland County has denied a Freedom of Information Act request from the Midland Daily News for a report of an investigation of Chief District Court Judge John H. Hart. While the report was not released, a statement from the Midland County judiciary gives more details about the case.

The Daily News was attempting to gain copies of a report composed in the summer of 2012 after allegations of sexual harassment against Hart surfaced. The Daily News mailed the Freedom of Information Act request on March 14 to Midland County Administrator/Controller Bridgette Gransden.

 On March 20, the Daily News received a reply from the county’s attorney, L. William Smith, stating he had received the request and was putting the newspaper on notice that he was extending the time in which the county had to answer the request by 10 additional business days.

Friday, Smith contacted the paper to advise the request was being denied. “Your request is denied, for the reason that the information requested is not the record of a public body as defined in Sec. 15.232, because it is a record of the judiciary (MCL 15.232(v)) and in addition the document requested contains privileged information exempt from release pursuant to 15.243(1)(8) of the Freedom of Information Act,” the denial letter states.

An attempt to reach Hart for comment was unsuccessful. Read more

Kelly Dame | Midland Daily News | 7th April 2013

PAKISTAN: Freedom of Information law: Senate body orders Ministry to table the draft

Senate’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Friday issued directives to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to table the draft of Freedom of Information law before the committee within 15 days. The directive was issued during the committee meeting chaired by Kamil Ali Agha at the Parliament House while examining the proposed code of conduct of Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

The committee was informed that the draft of the law had been finalised and presented to the former information minister for approval. The committee hoped the caretaker minister, being himself a journalist, will play his role for early enactment of freedom of information law. Chairman Pemra Chaudhry Rashid Ahmed presented the details of the draft prepared by Pemra and the code of conduct issued by Election Commission regarding election coverage. Read more

Business recorder | 6th April 2013

CANADA: Cattlemen unhappy with release of personal data

There’s no love lost between the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state’s largest cattle organization spoke out again on Friday about its latest source of disenchantment with the federal watchdog agency.

The group is unhappy about an EPA decision to release what the Cattlemen describe as personal data about members — including specific locations of feedlots and names, addresses and phone numbers, to so-called activist organizations in response to a freedom of information request.

Kristen Hassebrook, director of natural resources and environmental affairs for the livestock group, said what the EPA provided amounts to “a one-stop shopping database” for organizations that might represent a security threat. Read more

Art Hovey | Columbus Telegram | 5th April 2013

£14m bill for gagging axed public officials

£14m bill for gagging axed public officials

Last month the Government banned gagging orders for NHS employees after it emerged that more than £18 million had been spent on silencing 600 staff.

However, the use of similar orders is widespread for departing employees across both local authorities and Whitehall, leading to accusations that ministers are being “hypocritical”.

In Whitehall, more than 200 civil servants and officials have signed compromise agreements in the past two years, at a total cost of £14 million. Officials said it was “standard practice” for them to include confidentiality clauses.

One of the biggest payoffs was made to Philippa Williamson, a former chief executive of the Serious Fraud Office, who left on voluntary redundancy.

She received £462,000 and is thought to have signed a confidentiality agreement.

Local authorities have signed 4,562 compromise agreements with former staff, according to figures released under freedom of information laws. Most of them contain confidentiality clauses. Read more

Steven Swinford | The Telegraph | 2nd April 2013

Six European privacy investigators launch investigation of Google’s privacy policy

Six European data protection authorities will conduct formal investigations of Google’s privacy policy after the company repeatedly rejected their requests that it reverse changes it made to the policy last March, they announced Tuesday.

Data protection authorities in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. have resolved to conduct investigations or inspections of Google’s privacy policy, following an initial investigation by the French data protection authority. The precise nature of the actions will depend on how the European Data Protection Directive has been transposed in their respective national laws.

In Germany, Hamburg’s Commissioner for Data Privacy and Freedom of Information said it will review the way in which Google processes users’ data. Although Google seeks their consent, it is impossible for users to foresee the scope of this consent, Commissioner Johannes Caspar warned in a news release.

Analyses compiled by CNIL raise questions about the legality of Google’s processing of personal data, Caspar said.

The six countries will now take a close look at Google’s compliance with the law. “Should the data protection concerns be confirmed, appropriate supervisory measures may be taken in the individual member states,” he said.

The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) said it has notified Google of the initiation of an inspection procedure.

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office followed suit. An ICO spokesman confirmed the investigation into whether the March 2012 privacy policy is compliant with the Data Protection Act, and added, “As this is an ongoing investigation it would not be appropriate to comment further.” Read more

Peter Sayer | Computer World | 2nd April 2013

How 1,800 suspended police keep their pensions

The figure will intensify mounting concern over how police can avoid the consequences of incompetence and misconduct, after Sir Norman Bettison, the former West Yorkshire chief constable, was criticised for stepping down while he was facing a disciplinary investigation.

Last week the police watchdog said Sir Norman, 57, would have faced gross misconduct charges and possible dismissal had he not resigned last year, entitled to a pension worth an estimated £87,000 annually.

Chief constables and their deputies will come under the closest scrutiny in the light of the new figures because a record number of senior officers have been sacked or suspended for misconduct in the last two years.

Last week the deputy chief constable of Cleveland police was sacked for gross misconduct.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show 1,813 police officers in England and Wales retired or resigned while under investigation for disciplinary offences in the 10 years to 2011, the most recent data available. Read more

David Barrett | The Telegraph | 31st March 2013

90 MPs get free iPads for working on ‘paperless select committees’

The iPad tablet computers, worth tens of thousands of pounds, have been lent to 91 MPs who agreed not to receive information on the committees on paper, according to a Freedom of Information request.

It means that in all more than 250 MPs now have the iPads, because other colleagues choose to claim for tablet computers through the MPs’ expenses system.

Campaigners questioned why the MPs were entitled to iPads when there were cheaper tablet computers on the market.

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is incumbent on the Commons authorities to demonstrate that money really is being saved by paying for tablets instead of automatically printing out committee documents.

“Otherwise people will suspect that it’s a ruse to allow the MPs to get their hands on the latest gizmo courtesy of the taxpayer.

“In any event, iPads are a top-of-the-range, premium product and there are much cheaper alternatives available which would save even more taxpayers’ money.”

The MPs are all members of one of nine committees which scrutinise the work of central Government on behalf of the House of Commons. Read more

Christopher Hope | Daily Telegraph | 2nd April 2013

Edinburgh Council ruled to have breached freedom of information

City of Edinburgh Council has been heavily criticised for its lack of disclosure of information about a statutory repair scheme.

The council has been accused of overcharging hundreds of city residents for allegedly unnecessary building repair work and expending “a disproportionate amount” of the Information Commissioner’s resources by taking 16 months to release information that should have been disclosed within 20 working days, a report has said.

In October 2011, Edinburgh property owner Helena Wilson asked her local authority for photographs and engineer and surveyor reports, as well as a breakdown of her repair costs.The council insisted that Ms Wilson’s request could prejudice an investigation amid allegations of breach of practice and refused it, the commissioner said.

The council reconsidered and pledged to provide the information in March 2011. But it took another 11 months of pressure by the commissioner to unearth the bulk of the information.

The commissioner has ruled that the council was not entitled to withhold most of the information requested and that it breached freedom of information guidelines. Read more

The Scotsman | 29th March 2013

Nigeria: Oyo State Not Bound To Domesticate The FOI Act – Commissioner

The Oyo State Government said on Monday that it was not bound to domesticate the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Ojo Adebayo, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan that the state’s decision on the Act was guided by the position of the law and not by the selfish interest of the government.

“It is not about the government, but of the law and the law says that both the federal and state government can concurrently legislate on it.

“Being an item on the concurrent list, both of us are free to either legislate on it or not.

“However, while the federal government had legislated and now we have the Act, Oyo State has not done that.

“The law is, therefore, made for the federal government and its agencies all over the country and it is not applicable to us in Oyo State.

“We are not bound by the Act, because we are operating federalism and the state is a co-partner in the federation,” he said.

The Attorney-General added that the state government may, however, voluntarily elect to domesticate the Act.

“Although we are not an appendage of the federal government, we may legislate on it if we feel otherwise,” he said.

NAN recalls that the Freedom of Information Bill was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in May 28, 2011. Read more

Leadership Newspapers Nigeria | 3rd April 2013

Scilly’s Council Criticised For Ignoring Information Requests

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is continuing to ignore some freedom of information queries. And they’ve been issued with their second notice in six months warning that they have breached the Freedom of Information Act.

The Council has refused to explain who gave authority for an official apology to be made in a meeting last May. At the time members were unclear who had authorised the public apology for comments that had allegedly upset an employee during a debate the previous July.

It later emerged that the upset staff member was offered a sum believed to be £500, after they went to a mainland employment tribunal.

The Council refused to say who had signed off the statement, saying it was confidential.

The Information Commissioner has criticised their response for not properly explaining why the information couldn’t be released and for failing to provide an internal review of that decision. Read more

Andy Hargreaves | Scilly Today | 2nd April 2013

Fears thousands of drivers can’t read basic road signs

Thousands of motorists could have passed their driving test without being able to read English road signs, experts fear.

At least 3,144 learners in Greater Manchester needed translators to guide them through their practical test last year. This was up from 2,274 in 2010/11 and 1,561 the year before.

The figures, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, revealed a growing trend that the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is looking to ban amid fears that new drivers will not understand basic road signs.

The DSA is also concerned that translators – often a family member or friend – could help the learner to cheat. Since 2009, £94,500 a year has been spent on cases outing such fraudsters. Read more

Mia de Graaf | Manchester Evening News | 2nd April 2013

FBI Denies UFO Crash ‘Hottel Memo’ Is Evidence Of Aliens

The FBI has insisted that a formerly secret document about UFOs which became an internet sensation after its release does not prove the existence of aliens.

The so-called Guy Hottel Memo was published in 2011 after a Freedom of Information Act request.

The document dates from 1950 and states that an investigator “for the Air Force” had reported three “flying saucers” had crashed in New Mexico. Read more

Michael Rundell | Huffington Post UK | 3rd April 2013

Children as young as SEVEN are being admitted to hospital with alcohol addiction

Children as young as seven are being admitted to hospital with alcohol problems, an investigation has found.

Shocking new figures have revealed dozens of under-10s have been hospitalised suffering from mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol use.

A Freedom of Information request to all of England’s 166 NHS hospital trusts revealed a total of 380 children aged 10 or under were treated for alcohol intoxication between 2008 and 2012.

Worryingly, 67 of the trusts approached either failed or refused to the Freedom of Information request, meaning the figures are likely to be even higher. Read more

Anna Hodgekiss | Daily Mail | 3rd April 2013

Women prisoners clamour to read ‘mummy porn’ novel Fifty Shades Of Grey after jails give in to requests to stock the book

Female prisoners at some of the toughest women only jails have been putting their names on waiting list for copies of Fifty Shades Of Grey after prison chiefs bought copies of the novel, it has been claimed.

According to a Freedom of Information request revealed today, taxpayers’ cash has been spent stocking at least five prison libraries with the ‘mummy porn’.

Now prison sources say the inmates, desperate to read the book, are putting their names on library waiting lists to get hold of it.

The book is stocked at HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire – a 310-capacity jail, which was previously home to Soham killer Ian Huntley’s partner Maxine Carr

A jail source added: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey has proved massively popular throughout the female prison estate.

‘Women were constantly requesting the book from prison libraries but were told it was not available, so in the end it was decided to get some copies in.’

It comes as Justice Secretary Chris Grayling orders all X-rated films must be removed from jails, but the crackdown does not include books. Read more

Daily Mail | 2nd April 2013





Black Nurses miss out on Top NHS Jobs

Black Nurses miss out on Top NHS Jobs – Report from Nursing Standard finds shortfall in numbers holding senior positions

BLACK NURSES are not being promoted to top jobs within the NHS despite making up a fifth of the workforce, a report has found.

The Nursing Standard, the UK’s leading nursing journal, compiled the data after sending Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to 40 NHS trusts.

It discovered that at eight of the 40 organisations there were no black or ethnic minority (BME) nurses in most senior  ’Band 8′ positions which pay between £46,621 to £97,478.

Department of Health figures show that 94 per cent of nursing directors in 140 NHS trusts across England are white.

Read more

Voice Online | 14th November 2012

London Councils spend £23 million telling us about them

London councils spent more than £23 million on publicity last year, including on free newspapers.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that a third of boroughs in the capital spent more than £1 million.

Tower Hamlets, one of London’s poorest boroughs, topped the list with a bill of £3.2 million, according to its budget documents.

Read more

Pippa Crerar and Anthony Kimber | Evening Standard | 14th November 2012

South Yorkshire Police staff morale low, survey finds

In figures disclosed after a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC, more than 1,200 staff said morale at work was “low” or “very low”.

The survey was conducted in March, six months before a damning report into South Yorkshire Police failings over the Hillsborough disaster.

The force said it was working with staff to tackle the issues raised.

Read more

BBC | 14th November 2012

The Guardian covers Request Initiative’s findings on drug seizures at 10 popular UK music festivals

Research by Request Initiative is published today in the Guardian. Figures obtained via the Freedom of Information act (FOIA) reveal the amount and nature of drug confiscations at ten of the UK’s most popular music festivals.

Ahead of  2012′s festival season, Alex Montague, information manager at Request, obtained figures from constabularies around the country who are responsible for policing the UK’s most high profile live music events. The data spans 2008-2011 and the festivals included:

-       Bestival (Hampshire Police)

-       Download Festival (Leicestershire Police)

-       Glastonbury (Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

-       The Isle of Wight Festival (Hampshire Police)

-       Leeds Festival (West Yorkshire Police)

-       Reading Festival (Thames Valley Police)

-       Sonisphere (Hertfordshire Police)

-       V Festival (Staffordshire Police)

-       Wireless Festival (Metropolitan Police)

-       Womad (Wiltshire Police).

The Guardian’s Ben Quinn and John Burn-Murdoch  have reported on the data gathered under the headline Revealed: types and quantities of drugs seized by police at UK music festivals. Further analysis is available on the Guardian’s Data blog which includes charts of the street value of the seized drugs.

Brendan Montague, executive director of Request Initiative said: “This is the first major research project providing empirical evidence showing the extent and nature of drug taking at national music festivals in the UK and shows that Class A drugs including cocaine and MDMA are still very popular among music fans.”

Read the full story.

Suspended police chief at centre of fraud probe spent £55,000 on taxpayer-funded credit card

A chief constable used a publicly-funded credit card to spend thousands on restaurant bills and more than £1,000 buying flowers, it has been revealed.

Sean Price, who is currently suspended from his role at Cleveland Police, based in Middlesbrough, spent over £55,000 on his corporate card over a five-year period.

Just over half the total was spent on hotel stays, with around £7,000 spent on restaurants.

Another £1,350 was spent in one purchase from a furniture supplier while smaller-scale spending was also recorded with the likes of John Lewis, Argos and Marks & Spencer.

Spending on the card is forming part of an ongoing police inquiry into a range of allegations surrounding Cleveland Police Authority and the Cleveland force.

Any wrongdoing identified could result in either misconduct or potential criminal charges against Mr Price.

A law firm representing Mr Price, who lives in North Yorkshire, said he was unable to comment on the details of the spending while investigations continued.

The credit card data was obtained via freedom of information requests.

Read more.

Emily Allen | Daily Mail | 16th April 2012

Public bodies urge FoIA clampdown in post-legislative review

The Telegraph reports that public bodies are urging the government to restrict the Freedom of Information Act, including by charging for requests, as Parliament announces a fourth session of scrutiny for the Act.

The Commons Justice Select Committee will summon former Cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell, historian Peter Hennessy and NHS managers before a panel examining the future of the FoIA in the wake of David Cameron’s testimony that it is “furring up the arteries” of government.

Hampshire County Council leader Ken Thornber said: “We spent £365,000 in 2010 answering Freedom of Information requests. What else could I do with that money? More social workers, more school inspectors, more spent on road maintenance.”

But the Telegraph pointed out that local governments routinely spend more on council offices (£111m, Newham borough) and other facilities.

The Department of Work and Pensions spent more on ‘search engine biasing’ than it did answering FOI requests, while eight departments spent more on ministerial cars, and O’Donnell’s own pension (£300,000) nearly matched Thornber’s figure.

Murderers and rapists among 30,000 still sought by police

An FOI request by the BBC found that over 2,000 suspects of violent crimes remain at large despite outstanding warrants for their arrest.

Figures from 52 police forces across the country found 30,000 people were wanted, of whom 14% were suspected of violent crimes and 3% of sex-related ones.

Among them is 25-year-old Kimamo Wanjunki Kimamo, who skipped bail in 2009 after being charged with the rape of Heidi Olseen at a London house party.

Javed Khan, chief executive of charity Victim Support, said: “Not only does this create considerable anger and frustration for victims but it means that justice is not achieved and puts more people at risk of becoming victims.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alison Roome-Gifford of the Association of Chief Police Officers said forces had “robust” systems for tracking wayward suspects and that many of the warrants were for minor crimes such as traffic offences.

NHS hospital paid £20,000 a week for agency doctor

NHS trusts have spent more than a billion pounds a year on temporary clinical staff since 2009, the Telegraph reports. Staff shortages in hospitals are blamed on the European Working Time Directive, which introduced a maximum 48-hour-week in Aug 2009, and has allegedly led to billion of pounds being spent on agency doctors.

In total, 83 out of 164 hospital trusts responded to Freedom of Information requests about the sum they spent on temporary doctors, nurses and other clinical staff, showing £1.03 billion was spent in 2010-11 and £1.05 billion the year before. 28 hospital trusts admitted spending more than £1,000 a day to hire individual doctors and nurses via agencies since April 2009.

North Cumbria University Hospitals paid £20,000 for a doctor who worked 56 hours in shifts and 112 on call in one week. Christie foundation trust paid £11,029 for a haematologist for 48 hours work over six days. Mid Staffordshire foundation trust paid £5,667 for a doctor who worked a 24 hour shift in A & E.

Irish Foreign Affairs Staff Fork out €1,000 a Week on Wine Last year.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs spent more than €50,000 on wine in 2011 according to a freedom of information disclosure, reports the Irish Times. Compared to 2010, Ireland’s taxpayers faced a four-fold increase on annual spending by the Department of Foreign Affairs on wine.

In total, almost €200,000 has been spent on wine since 2005 with the stored stock having cost €81,917 at the turn of last year. The increase has been attributed to visits by Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama as well as last year’s Presidential election. But Fianna Fail’s spokesman for foreign affairs said the news would offend the public. The spokesman said: “Members of the public who have had wage cuts and are struggling to pay their mortgages at the moment will be offended by this.”

Cambridge Colleges ask government to be exempt form Freedom of Information Act 

Colleges at the University of Cambridge have asked government for exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA), the Cambridge Student reports.

In a request to the Justice Committee, Cambridge University’s colleges argued that FoIA leads to undesirable and unnecessary costs. Richard Taylor, however, from the website WhatDoTheyKnow.com has criticised the colleges’ demands, warning: “If colleges were exempt from FOI [Freedom of information], this would dent the ability of students – their members – to effectively hold them to account… both the university and the colleges ought to remain subject to FOI.”

Councils’ £1m bill for private detectives

The Telegraph has reported that UK local councils have spent £1million hiring private detectives to spy on people in the past five years.

Information obtained via a Freedom of Information (FoIA) request, reveals that one third of the largest councils have used private detectives to spy on people claiming compensation for accidents, those suspected of benefit fraud and families involved in care proceedings. Former council staff, suspected of theft, have also been monitored at the taxpayers’ cost.

The FoIA request revealed Nottinghamshire council spent £60,000 on private eyes, while Croydon spent £30,000 gathering evidence in fraud and anti–social neighbour cases.

Kirklees council spent £2,050 to spy on one of its own employees’ activity at work. Leeds spent £25,000 spying on families involved in care proceedings.

Furthermore, the Telegraph states: “Westminster hired private detectives at a cost of £600 to find out if a family was homeless, while Walsall spent £4,500 to see if a father had moved back in with his son and partner”.

Director at campaign group Big Brother Watch, Nick Pickles, has said: “spying on residents in such a manner is intrusive and inappropriate.”

13% of 2011 drink driving charges made against ‘morning after’ motorists.

A Freedom of Information (FoIA) request made by the company Autoglass has revealed that, nationally, 13% of those arrested for drink-driving last year were caught between 5am and 12 noon- usually the morning after alcohol consumption.

Reported in the Press Association, the FoIA request was made to 26 of Britain’s 43 police forces, who in turn released data revealing: “In total, these forces made 39,259 drink-drive arrests last year, with 5,049 of these taking place between 5am and 12 noon. Of those arrested in the period December 24 2011 to January 1 2012, 15% were caught in the seven hours up to 12 noon.

Collapsed police corruption trial cost tax-payer millions

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the investigation behind Britain’s biggest ever police corruption trial cost South Wales Police over £9million

It emerged last night that the force had spent a total of £9,215,191 on the 10-year inquiry and has been critisised due to frontline cutbacks in policing.

The trial over the murder of 20-year-old Cardiff prostitute Lynette White, in which the accused were found not guilty, collapsed in December when the prosecution abandoned its case following claims that files of evidence had been shredded.

Eight former officers and two civilians who were accused of perverting the course of justice in an investigation that led to the wrongful jailing of three men for the 1988 murder of 20-year-old Cardiff prostitute Lynette White were subsequently acquitted on the basis they could not get a fair trial.

Former Scotland Yard detective and current Conservative AM for South Wales West, Byron Davies, said: “The public expect a professional service and knowing that this money could have been put to much better use is disappointing.

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