You are currently viewing Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 23/2/2024 – #FOIFriday

Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 23/2/2024 – #FOIFriday

The power of Freedom of Information requests is you can ask for whatever information you want (you might not always get it).

The first two stories this week feature FOI used for follow-ups – to official data or to another FOI. Using the Act this way means you potentially get more detail to broader statistics.

For example, hundreds of people having their hospital care disrupted by hospital maintenance issues is a strong story, but using FOI to get the reasons why buildings are failing makes it stronger.

Your submitted information will be used to send you emails. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Unmaintained hospitals

Sewage leaks, floods and failing equipment featured in incident records obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to NHS data, the care of more than 2,600 acute hospital patients was disrupted last year by estates and infrastructure failure. The BBC asked 210 hospital trusts for examples, and a total of 86 trusts provided a response.

Incidents included:

  • Patients awaiting dialysis were sent home because of water supply issues
  • Green algae growth in a hydrotherapy pool
  • Power lost in an operating theatre
  • Sewage leaked into a waiting area for ophthalmology
  • Parts of a ceiling collapsed in a clinical area
  • An operating theatre reached 29C because of a broken air conditioning unit

Ofsted complaints

An FOI about an FOI.

Ofsted has come under increased scrutiny following the suicide of headteacher Ruth Perry. She took her own life months after Caversham Primary School in Reading was downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’.

New figures, obtained by the PA news agency’s Radar service through a freedom of information (FOI) request, show there were 1,199 complaints about Ofsted handled in the year to March 2023. Of these, 502 included concerns about the behaviour of inspectors.

In Blackburn with Darwen, three such complaints were dealt with over a three-year period.

The Lancashire Telegraph has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Education about the nature of the complaints, and which schools in Blackburn with Darwen they were made by, and will publish any response received in due course.


The rate at which children left the classroom for home education doubled last year, with big increases in some of the country’s most deprived areas, a Schools Week investigation suggests.

Analysis of freedom of information data from around two thirds of councils suggests around 140,000 pupils nationally were home educated at some point in 2022-23, a rise of 12% on the 125,000 the year before. The pupil population grew by just 0.8% over the same period.

The 12% increase is double the 6% rise from 2020-21 to 2021-22. The number of children now in home education is 80% higher than in pre-pandemic 2018-19.

Homes (or not) for Ukraine

Potential issues with the Homes for Ukraine scheme have been the subject of FOI before but it’s one that’s worth following up again.

Scores of Ukrainian refugees who came to Wiltshire under the Homes for Ukraine scheme have at some point registered as homeless or threatened with homelessness, according to a Freedom of Information request sent to Wiltshire Council.

Wiltshire Council’s response stated 1,500 Ukrainian people have come to live in Wiltshire households since the scheme began. It also revealed that 82 of those refugees had registered as homeless or threatened with homelessness after coming to Wiltshire.

Home schooling

The number of children being taught at home across the West Midlands has jumped by more than 2,000, according to the latest government figures.

At the start of the autumn term in 2022 there were 9,080 pupils being home-educated, but the number had jumped to 11,130 by last summer, the Department of Education (DofE) said. Sandwell has seen an 81% rise in recent years, from 402 in 2019-20 to 730.

Figures were issued to BBC Radio WM in a freedom of information request.

Cancer treatment

Data from within the last six months, sourced by the Labour Party through Freedom of Information requests, showed some cancer patients at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital have waited up to 188 days for treatment – over twice the national target.

A spokesperson for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are committed to ensuring we see more patients requiring cancer treatment sooner and, although we remain above average in relation to waiting times for cancer, we recognise this is below the national standard.”

Dangerous dogs

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Daily Echo uncovered data from the past four years -last year, there were a total of 11 dogs seized by Dorset Police, with four impounded in June.

The same number of dogs were also seized in 2022. In total, 41 dogs were seized throughout 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Road closures

Nearly a third of roads in Suffolk were closed for longer than estimated to enable works to take place during the last five years, according to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The EADT has obtained data from Suffolk County Council showing that out of 7,847 road closures since the financial year 2018/19, some 2,152 went beyond the estimated completion date.

During 2022/23, roads in the county were closed for 6,710 days, compared to 5,700 days the year before, although in 2019/20, there were 7,730 days of closures.

In the red

A councillor has called for a review of a council’s parking operations after figures suggested the authority was spending more than it was making.

Figures obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests and shown to the Local Democracy Reporting Service show the cost of running a dozen car parks in Newport totalled £1.17 million in 2023.

The council collected slightly more than £1m from pay machines at the same car parks in the 2022/23 financial year.


How much is your local council spending on pothole repair? How does that compare to previous years and how do people feel about that?

According to data from a Freedom of Information request, four of nine boroughs in Greater Manchester were found to have a drop in the number of potholes repaired in the 2022/23 year. Among them, Trafford was lowest with 22 percent less potholes being repaired than in the 2021/22 year.

Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh my

Tigers, a zebra and a leopard are among the potentially dangerous animals privately owned in Kent. There are more than 100 wild creatures owned in the county, figures released by wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation, show.

Dover has the highest number, with two tigers, an amur leopard and more than 25 different breeds of venomous snakes kept in the harbour town. These include puff adders, rhino vipers and timber rattlesnakes.

The two tigers and amur leopard belong to Wingham Wildlife Park and are being kept on a separate site as the zoo is in the process of producing a new enclosure.

Image by Nothing Ahead on Pexels

Leave a Reply

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