You are currently viewing Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 15/3/2024 – #FOIFriday

Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 15/3/2024 – #FOIFriday

A quick round-up of Freedom of Information stories this week…

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Weapons in schools

A knuckle duster and nunchucks were among the weapons seized from children in schools across the Avon and Somerset area in recent years. A Freedom of Information request disclosed Avon and Somerset Police seized 13 items in schools in its force area during 2023 – more than double the number of weapons seized in 2022.

Across 2023, the force was called to 29 reports of having an article with a blade or point on school premises in the region, compared to 34 reports in 2022 and 19 reports in 2021. They also responded to two call-outs of possession of an offensive weapon on school premises without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

Out of date machines

Patients are being exposed to excess radiation because the NHS is using out of date machines, it has been revealed.

Medway Foundation Trust in Kent said it has been unable to replace radiology machines, which expired in 2020 and 2022, due to money. According to the trust documents, first reported by the Health Service Journal, the radiation levels that patients are being exposed to are “within the upper limit of safe.”

In October last year, freedom of information responses published by Labour revealed 48 per cent of NHS trusts still use MRI and CT scanners which are past the recommended life span of 10 years.

SEN funding

More than 20 councils have been given ministerial approval to quietly slice £67 million from their schools budget to prop up gaping SEND funding black holes.

If councils wish to transfer more than 0.5 per cent, or want to move 0.5 per cent or less of their core schools budget without agreement from their schools forum, they must get approval from the Department for Education.

For 2024-25, the government approved £67 million worth of transfers from 23 councils, figures obtained after a freedom of information request by Schools Week show.

This compares with at most £17 million from the three councils given approval in 2020-21.

Long A&E waits

More than 7,300 patients had to wait more than one day in a Scottish A&E department last year before they were treated, according to figures.

The stats from Public Health Scotland, which were obtained by Scottish Labour through freedom of information (FOI), showed that 7,367 patients spent more than 24 hours in an emergency department before being discharged, admitted or transferred in 2023.

The longest wait in A&E last year was at NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s University Hospital Crosshouse, where a patient waited more than 122 hours, or five days.

Illegal vapes

Nearly a quarter of all illegal vapes seized in the UK were found in Greater Manchester, a shocking new report has revealed.

Just five boroughs — Manchester, Salford, Wigan, Rochdale, and Bolton — accounted for the 345,684 dodgy vapes taken by councils. That represents 22 percent of the 2023 nationwide total of roughly 1.5 million, according to the ‘2024 Illegal Vaping report’.

The figures, released following a freedom of information request, shows how quickly the illicit products have become an issue. Manchester saw no seizures until 2022, when the statistic was 13,960. A year later, it was 158,434.

Car park income

West Northamptonshire Council earned more than £3m and North Northamptonshire Council more than £1m. The Local Democracy Reporting Service gathered figures after making freedom of information requests.

Figures showed St Johns multi-storey, in Swan Street, Northampton, generated £607,472 and was the highest-earning West Northamptonshire car park. The Grosvenor multi-storey, in Greyfriars, Northampton, generated £422,050

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