Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 22/4/22 – #FOIFriday 

Freedom of Information requests can be a great way to hold public bodies to account – where a lack of information may make tackling crime harder or where action doesn’t match policy decisions.

Missing crime reports

The effectiveness of FOI often rests on the effectiveness of records management. But poor records management can cause other problems beyond time limit refusals. And the lack of records or their inaccessibility may be the story.

Hundreds of reports of sex abuse in Scottish football may have been ‘lost’ as Police Scotland admit over 30 years worth of data is missing, according to a report in the Daily Record

The cops revealed “very little” information exists of reports made to Strathclyde Police between 1966 and 1997 in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Littering and dog mess

The ultimate local news hot button issues! But is saying you’re going to tackle these enough, if you don’t actually take action?

Barrow Council put in place a public spaces protection order (PSPO) in 2019, which allows authorised council officers to issue fixed penalty notices of £100 for particular transgressions occurring in public places.

The order was last month extended for an additional three years.

However, an FOI by the Mail found the order has never been used for littering or dog mess (having worked in local news for more than a decade I’m going to guess this isn’t because of a lack of litter or dog mess!).

Book squeeze

Local elections are fast approaching, and well organised candidates and parties have got their FOI requests in ready to highlight local issues in their campaigns.

Potential hot topic in Redditch is plans to close the library and move the services to the Town Hall.

A Freedom of Information request to Redditch Borough Council has revealed that unused floor space at the Town Hall is only a seventh of the area of the library, the Redditch Advertiser reports. At 321 square metres, it’s less than a third of the area of a standard-sized 50m x 25m swimming pool.

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