Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 29/7/22 – #FOIFriday

Freedom of Information requests can be a great way to get more detail. This week’s FOI ideas round-up looks at localising crime rates, breaking down offending by age and gender, and digging into parking problems by street.

Local unsolved burglaries

Charge rates have fallen dramatically – but what those numbers look like locally might have more of an impact than more general national figures.

Police in East Staffordshire have solved just eight burglaries in a year from the 312 that were reported to them, Staffordshire Live has reported. The FOI was requested by East Staffordshire borough councillor Richard Grosvenor, who asked how many burglaries had been reported in East Staffordshire borough in the year April 2021 to April 2022 and how many were solved?

The response from the police said: “Between April 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022, there were 312 burglaries in the East Staffordshire area. With regards to how many were ‘solved’ the outcomes for ‘charged/summonsed postal requisition’, ‘caution’, ‘community resolution’, ‘offender deceased’ and ‘offender too ill’ have all been included. This returned eight burglary crimes in East Staffordshire that were ‘solved’ in the time period requested.”

Revenge porn

Youngsters as young as 10 in the West Midlands have been investigated for sending revenge porn, BirminghamLive has revealed. West Midlands Police said it investigated 75 youth offenders – aged between 10 and 18 – in 2021. While there were five cases where suspects were aged between just 10 and 12 last year.

However, out of the 75 accused school pupils, just five cases – 6.6 percent – resulted with any action being taken last year. Figures were drawn from three offending age groups 10-12 (five offenders), 13-15 (17 offenders) and 16-18 (53 offenders), a Freedom of Information request showed.

Gender driving offences gap

Men were responsible for five times more driving offences in Norfolk than women last year, figures in the Lynn News show. Male drivers were responsible for 8,638 motoring offences, compared to 1,783 by women.

Some 2,955 of the incidents were speed-related, including 108 motorists detected driving over 100mph. In total, 10,520 offences were detected by police in Norfolk last year, including speeding, driving without insurance and driving without proper care and attention.

Lots of detail in this FOI response, that could make requests of their own. The oldest person recorded in the data was a 92-year-old woman in Downham driving without due care and attention. She was fined and had points put on her licence.

Potentially looking for any gender gaps in offending could work for other crimes.

Lost property

Bicycles, cash and a sewing kit are among the items stashed in lost property at police stations in Barrow and Kendal, according to the Mail. Also among the array of items are a hammer, a ‘broken’ watch, a metal air gun pellet, as well as several lost wallets, keys and mobile phones.

A total of £173.18 is stored in lost property at the stations, according to the police. The list of items stored was released by Cumbria Police following a freedom of information request.

Nowhere to park

Do people keep complaining to you that parking is impossible where they live? (Do these same people live in households with two cars?). Is the problem that loads of people on the street have cars and most of them have permits to park in the residents’ bays?

The street in Cardiff that has the most residential permits is King’s Road in Pontcanna, which has 277 permits. This was followed by three streets based in Roath: Inverness Place with 238 residential permits; Arabella Street with 228; and Donald Street with 208.

These statistics were made available following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by WalesOnline. The figures also provided the number of electors on the register for each of these streets. While King’s Road – the street with the highest number of resident permits – had 402, there were other streets on the list with fewer permits but more electors on the register (doing this as a rate per resident could have been another potential way to calculate competition for spaces).

Agency social workers

The use of agency social work teams by councils to plug workforce gaps in children’s services has increased 10-fold in just five years, according to an investigation by CYP Now. A Freedom of Information request sent to all 151 local authorities found among the 100 that responded to the request, 25 said they had used managed teams of social workers and social work managers in 2021/22 compared with just two in 2017/18.

Overall, 43 per cent of local authorities say they have commissioned a managed team between 2017 and 2022, amounting to a total cost of £41.1m across all councils.

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