You are currently viewing Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 8/3/2024 – #FOIFriday

Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 8/3/2024 – #FOIFriday

Writing this week’s FOI Friday from the train in the way to OpenDemocracy’s Freedom of Information conference.

I’m speaking on a panel about the ICO’s record – I think the broad theme is there’s been an improvement on the FOI side but the bar, following Liz Denham’s time as Commissioner, was on the floor.

The ICO is now issuing enforcement and practice notices, which is really the bare minimum they should be, but it feels like it’s going to take a while to undo some of the really bad habits public bodies have picked up.

The prioritisation of complaints based on public interest appears to be working well. A complaint about Nottingham Council not releasing a report into its financial mismanagement made it to decision notice in months.

So a good start but so much more work to be done.

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Clare’s Law

In Freedom of Information requests, the BBC asked 44 police forces about the Clare’s Law applications they had received since the scheme was launched.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare’s Law, gives people the right to ask police if their partner has an abusive past.

Thirty-eight forces responded with data, of which 17 were able to provide more detailed figures about disclosure rates and response times.

Every force which provided relevant data had taken longer than the 28-day limit to respond to some applications. Some took more than a year to respond to members of the public who had asked for disclosures about their partner.

Bedfordshire Police took 223 days to respond to one “right to ask” application in 2023 – the longest wait among forces which provided data for last year.

Diversity schemes

According to Wednesday’s budget councils are apparently going to fund the ever rising cost of social care by cutting diversity schemes. FOI suggests that probably isn’t going to work.

A group of Conservatives – Conservative Way Forward – sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to hundreds of councils and other public bodies in 2022 asking for details of the number of roles focussed on issues of equality, diversity or inclusivity – and their salary band.

The group identified around £30m being spent across 397 local councils (that works out at just over £75,000 each, on average).

BBC Verify went through the responses they got and found Birmingham City Council (having financial problems) had spent £450,000. But that was only equivalent to 0.02% of their £2bn budget.

Children’s home inspections

A Welsh children’s care home has been heavily criticised in a series of inspections. Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) officers raised safety concerns over the way Ty Cariad in Milford Haven has been run.

Through a freedom of information request WalesOnline has obtained a priority action report – which means immediate action needs to be taken because a provider is breaching regulations – issued to Ty Cariad by the watchdog. The report came last September following three damning inspections at the home from December 2022, January 2023, and September 2023.

You can find out more about care inspections in Wales, and for adults or for children in England.


The number of Leicestershire under-18s being targeted by “sextortion” gangs soared by 443 per cent from 2021 to 2023. The crime often involves high-tech foreign criminal gangs setting up fake accounts to form friendships and get explicit pictures from youngsters before demanding money not to release them.

In the year from June 2020 to May 2021, only 28 cases of sextortion were reported by under-18s to Leicestershire Police, a Freedom of Information Act request shows. That figure jumped to 48 for 2022 and rose to 152 child victims in the year up to May last year.

Dog attacks

Paramedics rushed to aid 120 bite victims across the region over the past three years, with Freedom of Information figures detailing the ‘worst hit’ area in Birmingham.

Already in the first five weeks of 2024, there has been five emergency alerts to animal bites across the region – an average of one every week. Three of the five injured victims were bitten in Birmingham postcodes; B14 covering Kings Heath and Yardley Wood, B38 covering Northfield, Longbridge & Frankley and B31, covering Turves Green, Rednal & Northfield.

Local gangs

A freedom of information request (FOI) by the Halstead Gazette to Essex Police revealed there have been six reports of a gang of youths in Halstead Public Gardens, off Trinity Street, over a 12-month period.

The dates range from February 1, 2023, to January 31 this year, and the FOI also confirmed there has been two reports of attempted theft or robbery in the gardens reported to the police.

Electric cars

The Kia Niro was the most stolen battery electric vehicle in the UK last year, research by Leasing Options has found. According to data gained under a freedom of information request to the DVLA, 199 Niro models had been stolen, more than double the next most taken EV, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (96 documented thefts).

This was a fivefold increase compared to 2022, which saw 36 Niro models had been stolen. The third most stolen EV was the Kia EV6, which fell victim to theft on 91 occasions.

Picture by Almighty Shilref on Pexels

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