FOI holiday news

There were several interesting stories related to FOI over the break. I’ll be adding more as I have time and apologies for the lack of posts but I’ve been busy with other activities.

Monday January 7, 2008

EU grant cut for landowner whose gamekeeper tried to kill birds of prey
The Guardian

A farmer in the Scottish Borders has become the first landowner in the UK to have his agricultural subsidies cut as a punishment after his gamekeeper was convicted of trying to kill protected birds of prey. George Aitken, who works as a gamekeeper near Lauder in Berwickshire, set traps holding live pigeons and placed dead pheasants laced with poisons on moorland close to the southern upland way, a popular walkers’ route. The fine, disclosed to the Guardian under freedom of information legislation, is the first time ministers have used wide-ranging powers under European law…

3 January 2008

Taxpayers fund huge rise in costs for interpreters

Taxpayers have witnessed a near-fourfold rise in the cost of interpreter services in Scottish courts over the past three years. Country-wide costs increased by an average of 291 per cent over the last three years. The translation service now costs taxpayers £653,000 a year, compared with £167,000 in 2003-4, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Freedom of information – three years on
Information World Review

Unsurprising news today that MPs from the Commons Justice Committee have recommended that the government need to severely strengthen the Data Protection Act.

£10,000 of goods stolen from police premises
Newcastle Chronicle

Crooks have stolen more than £10,000 worth of goods from under police officers’ noses in the last year. The Chronicle used the Freedom of Information Act to ask both police forces for details of all goods stolen from them in the last year.

2 January 2008
Ex-inmate in plea as suicide bids in Ulster prisons triple
Belfast Telegraph

Suicide bids within Ulster’s prisons almost tripled over the past year. On average, throughout 2007 there were two suicide attempts a month by inmates. The information obtained by the Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act also shows there was a rise in self-harm incidents from 84 in 2006 to 105 from January through to the end of October 2007.

1 January 2008
Red alert over release of 250 grey squirrels

The government has licensed the release of more than 250 grey squirrels, which are originally from north America, back into the wild in England. The European Squirrel Initiative used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that 257 grey squirrels had been released over an 18-month period.

Where the thieves are not court in the act

Laptops, cat food and an airline ticket are among dozens of items stolen from Scotland’s courts in the last two years, it has been revealed. Even being under the very nose of the law does not deter some light-fingered criminals from striking, according to details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. One fashion-conscious thief stole denim trousers, a shirt and boots from Dumbarton Sheriff Court, while cat food, slippers and bread were taken from Kilmarnock.

31 December 2007
Battling for council information
St. Albans Observer – St. Albans,England,UK

A Frustrated St Albans man has been battling the district council for months to get information on a controversial mobile phone mast scheme. Frank Hore, one of a group of residents who have been campaigning for the council to agree a large mast in Clarence Park to avoid the need for several smaller ones near their homes, made a request under the Freedom of Information Act in June. Six months later and after a three-stage complaint process, he has still not seen the documents he requested, and the authority has only just agreed to reconsider its initial decision that they were covered by legal exemptions.

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