Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 30/6/2023 – #FOIFriday

Just a quick #FOIFriday this week (I’ve been away on an actual holiday). So what FOI stories made the news this week?

Sent away

The Isle of Wight Council is forking out millions of pounds to relocate them to the mainland. Since 2013, the number of off-Island placements for children in the Isle of Wight Council’s care has risen 365 per cent — from 20 in 2013 to 93 in 2023.

During the past ten years, the council has had to find 318 suitable placements for Island children, costing the authority £32,464,445, a recent Freedom of Information request has found. In the last ten years, six children have gone to placements in Wales and four to Scotland, the Isle of Wight County Press reports.

Prison officers off sick

The number of prison officers in England and Wales who took sick days for mental health reasons nearly doubled over five years. Staff taking time off rose from 1,456 in 2016/17 to 2,879 in 2021/22, Ministry of Justice data obtained by BBC Radio Kent shows.

The Prison Officers’ Association (POA) says long hours, violence and poor pay are causing staff burnout. The government says it is providing extensive mental health support.

Out of action care homes

The Liberal Democrats submitted freedom of information requests to local authorities in England asking them to detail council-owned or operated care home buildings that are not currently being used to provide care services. The investigation found that 94 care homes across 46 councils are not being used for their original purpose.

Thirty-seven of the unused care homes were found to be not fit for purpose, while 15 are lying empty, the Telegraph reports. Nineteen are currently being refurbished and another 15 are being used for other purposes, such as to provide office accommodation.

Food hygiene woes

There was quite a few of this type of story this week, and it’s a good one. Why has that eatery (this is surely a word only found in local newspapers) got such a low food hygiene rating? Usually the full report is more than enough to put you off a trip for dinner until the place has had a better review.

A months-old steak, leaking taps and unclean surfaces all contributed to a high-end Liverpool city centre hotel being hit with a one star hygiene rating. The 30 James Street hotel was inspected by environmental health officers from Liverpool City Council on March 29 and was hit with the second lowest score for hygiene – meaning that major improvement is necessary.

The Liverpool Echo used Freedom of Information laws to receive a copy of the full inspection report. The inspection uncovered a host of issues across two kitchens that led to the poor rating.

Anti-social behaviour

The Liberal Democrats claim that police failed to attend an estimated four million complaints since 2019, the Daily Mail reports. Some forces, according to Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said some forces failed to attend 75 per cent of incidents.

The Lib Dems obtained data through freedom of information requests sent to 45 police forces across the UK, 38 of which responded. Of these, the worst performers in 2022 were Avon & Somerset and Cambridgeshire – with 81 per cent and 80 per cent of anti-social behaviour reports going unattended respectively, according to the party.

Medical issues

Almost 580,000 motorists have been taken off the road due a health issues between 1 January 2014 and 1 June 2023, according to official records. The data has been shared following a Freedom of Information request made to the DVLA by car leasing comparison site LeaseLoco.

Dementia and alcohol dependency were two most common reasons for the DVLA to medically revoke a driving licence, with more than 16,000 cancelled licences since the start of 2022. Among the top ten medical conditions resulting in terminated licences is double vision, epilepsy, vascular or arterial disease, cataracts, seizure, giddiness, being unsafe due to medication and sleep apnoea.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.