Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 10/3/2023 – #FOIFriday

The main idea behind FOI Friday is to highlight good uses of the Freedom of Information Act in the news – to highlight issues, find out new information, and tell important stories.

These are usually requests that could be replicated – you could send the request to a different public body and potentially get a similar story for your area.

Recently the Liverpool ECHO used FOI to reveal the names of 14 politicians who together had a total of 51 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for parking rescinded by council officers over a five-year period without using formal processes.

Now LincolnshireLive has asked the same question. It found eight councillors in Boston and East Lindsey have had parking tickets cancelled in the past five years, and the reasons why they were rescinded – such as a perceived problem with a councillor’s email account.

This week’s inspiration might contain some ideas for requests to send locally.

Dog attacks

The number of dog attacks recorded by police in England and Wales has risen by more than a third in the past five years, a BBC investigation has found.

Last year, there were nearly 22,000 cases of out-of-control dogs causing injury. In 2018, there were just over 16,000. The UK’s dog population is estimated to have risen by only 15% in that time.

The BBC’s findings are based on 37 responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made to all 43 police forces.

Ambulance taxis

A crippling lack of ambulances has seen hundreds of desperately ill patients rushed to hospital by taxi at a cost of £129,000.

East of England Ambulance service ferried 27 critical condition patients by cab between April and November last year. Each was on a category 1 call – needing life-saving intervention or resuscitation. A further 281 taxi rides were used for category 2 patients – with conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, sepsis or burns.

A Freedom of Information request revealed the £129,100 bill is a massive rise on the £35,180 spent during 2021-22, the Mirror reports.

Far from home

Some Northamptonshire residents were moved more than 100 miles away, Northants Live reveals. North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) said it moved some residents to Brighton and Hove in Sussex since it was formed in 2021.

A freedom of information (FOI) request showed NNC has moved people to 17 places outside North Northamptonshire since its formation. Most of them are relatively close, including Northampton. It also moved people to Market Harborough, Hinckley and Leicester in Leicestershire and Bedford, Dunstable and Luton in Bedfordshire. It also paid for a person or people to stay in Letchworth in Hertfordshire.

Long trolley waits

A patient had to wait more than 55 hours to be seen to by an accident and emergency department in northern Lincolnshire. Freedom of information (FOI) requests made by the Labour Party have revealed the longest patient waits in NHS Trusts across the country between September 2021 and September 2022. The requests asked for the longest wait and any explanation as to why there was such a delay.

In Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG), the longest trolley wait for a patient was 55 hours and 39 minutes, Grimsby Live reports. However, the main reason for the wait was due to patient care needs, not staffing or bed availability.


Nearly 70 people have ended up in hospital or A&E with malnutrition in the Glasgow area over the last year. One or more boys aged four or under were among 68 residents seen for the serious condition in 2022, freedom of information statistics show.

In 2021, 76 people were in hospitals with malnutrition according to NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde figures obtained by the local democracy reporting service, GlasgowLive reports.

Housing benefit shortfall

Almost three quarters of housing benefit claimants living in private rental accommodation in West and South Belfast are being charged more than their Housing Benefit allowance, Belfast Live reports. These figures have come to light following a Freedom of Information request submitted by SDLP Collin candidate Gerard McDonald.

As of March 3, within housing benefit workgroup 201 which includes South and West Belfast encompassing Poleglass and Twinbrook, 71.85% of claimants have a shortfall between the rent charged by their landlord and the applicable Local Housing Allowance for the property occupied.

Parking tickets near hospitals

Wigan Council has brought in more than £120,000 in the last five years from ticketing people parked illegally outside the town’s largest hospital, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The authority has collected £122,891 from tickets issued on roads outside the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, according to a Freedom of Information request (FOI). Council officers issued 5,111 fines between the start of 2018 and the end of 2022.

Missed bin collections

Always a hot topic for irritated local residents – as many as 1,500 bins across Kent are being missed each week, new figures have revealed.

Data obtained through Freedom of Information requests shows residents’ waste has gone uncollected more than 155,000 times over the last 2 years, ITV News reports. Tonbridge and Malling and the Canterbury district are responsible for about two-fifths of cases since 2021.

Meanwhile, Swale and Sevenoaks are the only authorities to have received fewer than 4,000 missed bin reports over the same period.

Drunk on the motorway

This story highlights how keyword search FOI requests can turn up interesting stories within the results.

There were at least 16 calls made to police in Lancashire last year reporting drunk people walking into traffic or drinking beer while stood on the motorway.

A Freedom of Information request from Lancashire Police asking for logs on every police incident linked to ‘lager’ and ‘beer’ in 2022, has brought up some interesting tales.

While many of the logs were related to the shoplifting of alcohol, or beer garden brawls, there were some concerning incidents involving intoxicated pedestrians and the county’s roads.

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